N.B.: The Championship Manager 01/02 editor has a little kink where it reverts any created player with an age below 16 to aged 20 when you load the game. This means that both Ronaldo and Messi are the same age (16).
Since the emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at their peak around 2007 or 2008, they have been compared endlessly and with no definitive answer.
Messi is a better team player
Ronaldo is a better goalscorer
Messi is more composed
Ronaldo is better from dead balls
Messi links play better
Ronaldo is better in the air
Messi is braver
Ronaldo is stronger
Swap the names around and all could be quotes from Madridistas or Barca fans.
In fact, due to their constant nine-year duel at Spain’s two biggest clubs, the hype of a personal rivalry has hit such a boring heights that there’s a new school of thought:
Why can’t we just enjoy them both play football?
So, annoying myself in the process, I’ve decided to compare them.
1st, 39/12 (0/0), PC 5th, 47/15 (0/0) Championship Manager
0/0 (0/0) 0/0 (0/0) Real Life
£2.7M / £5K £5.25M / £1.1K Value/Wage
Both players enjoyed fruitful seasons at such a young age. Cristiano Ronaldo made the transition into the Sporting Lisbon first team as did Lionel Messi at Barcelona. Remember, due to the age difference not being a factor, this almost acts as Lionel Messi’s 2003/04 season.
Cristiano netted 12 in 39 matches, with Messi putting three more in the net but over more games. Lionel was a big feature in Barcelona’s Champions League campaign that ended in goal difference defeat in a second group stage containing Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.
Ronaldo helped Sporting back into the Champions League via a Liga Sagres crown, accompanied with a successful cup stint, gifting him his first two winners’ medal. They were less successful in Europe, however, falling at the UEFA Cup’s third round stage in Greece at Olympiakos.
3rd, 48/10 (2/0), PC 1st, 46/14 (1/0), UC Championship Manager
33/5 (2/0) 0/0 Real Life
£7.25M / £5K £10.5M / £8.25K Value/Wage
Lionel Messi started the season with disgrace in his native Argentina as he opted to play for the Spain under-21 side and was eventually capped by the senior team in June. His debut would be against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Ronaldo was earning his second cap, both appearances off the bench, in Portugal’s 3-0 win a year from their hosting of Euro 2004.
Ronaldo made his debut in April, in a friendly defeat to Croatia. He was more of a fixture in a Sporting Lisbon side that dropped back down to third and prematurely out of the Champions League’s first group stage. Ronaldo and Messi met in the UEFA Cup semi-final where Barcelona eventually prevailed 3-0 on aggregate before beating Celtic in the final.
Ronaldo wouldn’t be without silverware though, they earned a successive Portuguese Cup trophy, with a 4-1 win over Porto.
1st, 40/15 (6/0) 1st, 56/19 (8/0) Championship Manager
3rd, 40/6 (16/7), FAC 2nd, 15/5 Real Life
£8.5M / £5K £18.75M / £55K Value/Wage
Lionel Messi had become a first team player for Barcelona and soon achieved his first La Liga crown. He was the number 10 in behind Patrick Kluivert, filling the big shoes of Rivaldo. David Beckham was signed on the wing. Messi earned himself a big money £55,000 a week contract after his 56-match season. Ronaldo equalled his rival with a second Liga Sagres title but played significantly less matches (40).
Messi made it deep into the Champions League, losing at the quarter final stage to Arsenal whilst Sporting dropped into the UEFA Cup again and were eliminated in the third round. Ronaldo bettered Messi at Euro 2004 with Messi’s Spain eliminated at the group stage and Ronaldo’s Portugal progressing to the quarter-final. He was injured in the 2-0 loss to Italy so his tournament was over regardless.
1st, 48/17 (6/0) 2nd, 38/9 (7/5) Championship Manager
3rd, 50/9 (11/2) 1st, 26/7 (5/0) Real Life
£9.75M / £21K £19.5M / £55K Value/Wage
Cristiano signed a new contract of £21,000-a-week in a bid to keep in touch with Messi. His new contract had a significantly low release clause of £11.25m. He was in esteemed company at Sporting as they plumped for youth with Ricardo Quaresma on the right and Ronaldo on the left and Jardel down the middle. A third league title followed and a surprisingly long Champions League campaign that was ended by Roma in the semi-finals.
Roma proved too big a burden for Messi’s Barcelona as well. Messi lost a large chunk of his season to a hamstring injury in the winter, owing to his meagre 9 goals from 38 games for club. For country, though, he was more proficient, feeding Raul and Fernando Morientes as a #10 and would score 5 in 7 international matches.
Join us next week where a big transfer is the talk of the town.