Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi: The statistics behind the greatest rivalry

Goals keep flowing in the defining on-pitch rivalry of the modern era. Ahead of their eagerly anticipated reunion, we examine the statistics that underpin the age-old duopoly.

By Tim Williams Published: 27 October 2020 - 3.05pm

It’s the debate that has dominated column inches and shaped the language of football discourse: Is Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi the pre-eminent present-day player?

The defining rivalry of the modern era is set for its latest chapter on Wednesday night when Messi’s Barcelona travel to Turin to take on Ronaldo’s Juventus in the Champions League.

The Argentine and Portuguese legends are set to face off for the first time since 2018 and ahead of the blockbuster meeting, btsport.com have taken a look at some of the key head-to-head stats so you can make an informed decision about who is the greatest.

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Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi: Club goals

5

Season

2002/03

Lionel Messi

-

6

Season

2003/04

Lionel Messi

-

9

Season

2004/05

Lionel Messi

1

12

Season

2005/06

Lionel Messi

8

23

Season

2006/07

Lionel Messi

17

42

Season

2007/08

Lionel Messi

16

26

Season

2008/09

Lionel Messi

38

33

Season

2009/10

Lionel Messi

47

53

Season

2010/11

Lionel Messi

53

60

Season

2011/12

Lionel Messi

73

55

Season

2012/13

Lionel Messi

60

51

Season

2013/14

Lionel Messi

41

61

Season

2014/15

Lionel Messi

58

51

Season

2015/16

Lionel Messi

41

42

Season

2016/17

Lionel Messi

54

44

Season

2017/18

Lionel Messi

45

28

Season

2018/19

Lionel Messi

51

37

Season

2019/20

Lionel Messi

31

3

Season

2020/21

Lionel Messi

2

641

Season

Total

Lionel Messi

636

Cristiano Ronaldo

Season

Lionel Messi

5

2002/03

-

6

2003/04

-

9

2004/05

1

12

2005/06

8

23

2006/07

17

42

2007/08

16

26

2008/09

38

33

2009/10

47

53

2010/11

53

60

2011/12

73

55

2012/13

60

51

2013/14

41

61

2014/15

58

51

2015/16

41

42

2016/17

54

44

2017/18

45

28

2018/19

51

37

2019/20

31

3

2020/21

2

641

Total

636

Ronaldo and Messi boast staggering goal scoring records in club football.

Since his professional debut for Sporting CP in 2002, Ronaldo has scored 641 goals in 854 club games (0.75 per game). Remarkably, the Juventus man netted 50+ goals for six successive seasons for Real Madrid between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

Messi, who is the top scorer in Barcelona’s history, has scored 636 goals in 736 games (0.86 per game).

Ronaldo’s most prolific season to date was in 2014/15 (61), while Messi scored the most in 2011/12 (73).

Both players’ goal returns have fallen slightly in recent years, but they’re still among the most potent forwards in the top European leagues every season.

In international football, the Portuguese has scored 101 goals in 167 games (0.60 per game), whereas the Argentinian has scored 71 goals in his 140 games (0.51 per game).

Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi: Champions League stats

130

Statistic

Goals

Lionel Messi

116

171

Statistic

Appearances

Lionel Messi

144

0.76

Statistic

Goals per game

Lionel Messi

0.81

Cristiano Ronaldo

Statistic

Lionel Messi

130

Goals

116

171

Appearances

144

0.76

Goals per game

0.81

Ronaldo is the all-time leading scorer in Champions League history with 130 goals, while Messi is the second highest scorer with 116 goals.

The Barcelona star has a marginally superior goals per game ratio in Europe’s elite competition (0.81) than Ronaldo (0.76).

Ronaldo was the first to reach 100 goals with a single club, though. He reached the mark for Real Madrid on 14 February 2018. Messi completed his century exactly one month later.

Both have eight hat-tricks in Europe to their name, although the diminutive Argentine leads the Portuguese 69-63 in all-time group stage goals.

The former Manchester United man has the most assists (40) in the competition’s history, too. Messi, predictably, is second (36).

Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi: Titles

5

Competition

Champions League

Lionel Messi

4

3

Competition

UEFA Super Cup

Lionel Messi

3

4

Competition

Club World Cup

Lionel Messi

3

2

Competition

La Liga

Lionel Messi

10

2

Competition

Copa del Rey

Lionel Messi

6

2

Competition

Spanish Super Cup

Lionel Messi

8

3

Competition

Premier League

Lionel Messi

0

1

Competition

FA Cup

Lionel Messi

0

2

Competition

English League Cup

Lionel Messi

0

2

Competition

Community Shield

Lionel Messi

0

2

Competition

Serie A

Lionel Messi

0

1

Competition

Italian Super Cup

Lionel Messi

0

1

Competition

Portuguese Super Cup

Lionel Messi

0

1

Competition

European Championship

Lionel Messi

0

1

Competition

UEFA Nations League

Lionel Messi

0

0

Competition

Olympic Games

Lionel Messi

1

0

Competition

U20 World Cup

Lionel Messi

1

Cristiano Ronaldo

Competition

Lionel Messi

5

Champions League

4

3

UEFA Super Cup

3

4

Club World Cup

3

2

La Liga

10

2

Copa del Rey

6

2

Spanish Super Cup

8

3

Premier League

0

1

FA Cup

0

2

English League Cup

0

2

Community Shield

0

2

Serie A

0

1

Italian Super Cup

0

1

Portuguese Super Cup

0

1

European Championship

0

1

UEFA Nations League

0

0

Olympic Games

1

0

U20 World Cup

1

Ronaldo has won titles for every team he has played for (Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus). The Portuguese has won more Champions Leagues and FIFA Club World Cups than Messi, although the Argentinian has won more titles overall, largely due to Barcelona’s dominance in Spain.

Ronaldo has arguably won more prestigious honours on the international stage, helping Portugal to European Championship and Nations League glory. Messi, on the other hand, has famously struggled on the international stage, although he has won the Olympics and the U20 World Cup with Argentina.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi: Individual awards

5

Title

Ballon D'Or

Lionel Messi

6

4

Title

European Golden Shoe

Lionel Messi

6

1

Title

FIFA World Player of the Year

Lionel Messi

1

3

Title

Champions League Best Player

Lionel Messi

2

7

Title

Champions League Top Scorer

Lionel Messi

6

1

Title

Premier League Top Scorer

Lionel Messi

0

3

Title

La Liga Top Scorer

Lionel Messi

7

2

Title

FIFA's The Best

Lionel Messi

1

Cristiano Ronaldo

Title

Lionel Messi

5

Ballon D'Or

6

4

European Golden Shoe

6

1

FIFA World Player of the Year

1

3

Champions League Best Player

2

7

Champions League Top Scorer

6

1

Premier League Top Scorer

0

3

La Liga Top Scorer

7

2

FIFA's The Best

1

Remarkably, Ronaldo and Messi had a complete stranglehold on the Ballon D’Or – the most recognised individual gong in football – between 2008 and 2017.

The Barcelona legend has won one more (6) than Ronaldo (5), although the Portuguese has scooped more awards in the Champions League.

He was top scorer in the Champions League more times than the Argentinian (7-6) and has won the award for the competition’s best player more times (3-2).

Both were named FIFA World Player of the Year before the award was subsumed into the Ballon D’Or.

Have you made your mind up yet? Take a step back from the empirical data and the unavoidable debate often comes down to personal preference.

Hyperbole aside, Ronaldo and Messi are two of the greatest players to ever play the game and they will renew acquaintances once again when the Champions League returns for Matchday 2.

Watch Juventus v Barcelona on Wednesday 28 October exclusively live on BT Sport 3 HD and online.