Messi vs. Ronaldo: The Final Dance

Messi vs. Ronaldo: The Final Dance

Jasmine Machmouchi, Contributor '25

When you think about soccer, even if you are not a fan of the sport, you tend to think about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. They are the two greatest soccer players of our generation and are both constantly compared to one another and have been thrown into this ongoing argument of who is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) of our generation. Recently, on January 19th, the two phenomenal players played against each other for one final time. The game was a friendly match between Paris Saint-Germain and Al-Nassr, PSG being one of the most well-known Ligue 1 clubs, while Al-Nassr is a Saudi team who mainly made their name through the very recent signing of Cristiano Ronaldo. Now it is important to note that Messi and Ronaldo have had two very different careers, which greatly affects the way people perceive them and how they have reached where they are today.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was born on June 24, 1987 (age 35) in Rosario, Argentina. His passion for the sport began when he would join his two older brothers and their friends in some soccer games. He currently plays for the very well-known club of Paris Saint-Germain and plays for the Argentina National Team, and he plays forward both in clubs and nationals. However, he is most well-known and associated for his time in Fc Barcelona where he spent 16 entire seasons; he joined in the 2005/2006 season and his final season was the 2020/2021 season. Messi appeared in 778 matches while playing in Fc Barca alone and is the club’s top goal scorer with 670 goals. Messi has won a total of seven

Now you may be asking, what is the Ballon D’or? It is one of the most prestigious awards handed out to soccer players and is awarded to the player with the best performance throughout the past season. Messi’s first World Cup was in 2006 when he was 19 years old, making him the youngest Argentine player to play in the World Cup and score. After a total of 5 World Cup tournaments played, Messi and the rest of Argentina finally won the World Cup in December 2022.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is another Soccer superstar of our generation. Ronaldo was born of the 5th of February, 1985 (age 37) in Funchal, Portugal. He is most well known for his time in the famous Premier League club, Manchester United, and the UCL legends, Real Madrid. Ronaldo also does play for the Portugal National Team, which he recently played with in the 2022 World Cup where they reached the Quarterfinals. Cristiano Ronaldo has also won the Ballon D’or and he has won it a total of 5 times. Like Messi, there has been lots of talk around the conversation about the 2022 World Cup being their last; now there have been some rumors going around that they may play one more World Cup but it is highly unlikely.

If the 2022 World Cup was unfortunately Ronaldo’s last World Cup, that would mean he would have never in his entire career won the World Cup alongside Portugal’s National team. Ronaldo made his first debut at Sporting Lisbon where he had a total of 5 goals in 31 appearances. This highly impressed Sir Alex Furgeson and he signed Ronaldo to Manchester United for a total of 12 million euros – which is equivalent to about $19 million. This is the club which he won his first Champions League trophy. In 2009 Ronaldo left Man United and signed with Real Madrid for 94 million euros – $131 million.

In Real Madrid he scored 450 goals in 438 matches! This is the time period in which most people agree Ronaldo was in his prime, and this was corroborated with his four Champions League wins with the club. He then joined the well-known Italian club – Juventus. He stayed for a couple seasons before returning home to Manchester United. He had a successful first season back but was then released and let go of in November 2022, just before the World Cup. There was a time period when he was playing for the Portugal National Team in this well-known tournament where he was without a club, and very close to retirement. However, in late December 2022 it was announced that he will be joining Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr club. Now there was a lot of controversy about this as Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of soccer and was moving to a team that was almost completely unknow until he joined.

Who is the GOAT?

GOAT stands for Greatest of All Time and there has been a never-ending debate which continuously compared the two players as to who was better. Now I am not going to be arguing my opinion over here as this is something subjective and somewhat “controversial”. However, I am going to discuss others’ opinions. Now these two soccer players have been in competition from as early as 2014 if not earlier and have always been compared. Messi was always favored in this competition, and he tended to have more people supporting him than Ronaldo. This always put pressure on the players, especially Ronaldo as lots of statistics lead us to believe Messi is better. People never really saw their achievements as their own, but rather just another reason to compare the two. Now that

Messi has just won the World Cup, the majority of people now claim that he is far better as this is something that Ronaldo will never be able to do. With Ronaldo’s move to Al-Nassr as well, people use his move to a not as great club as a reason to put Ronaldo’s entire career down. However, it is currently being discussed that Messi may not have a cub next year as Paris Saint-Germain have not extended his contract. Something that I always thought was not really taken into consideration is, how different would this argument be if they were both given the same opportunities? If they were both treated the same?


Their Views On One Another

After years of competition many assumed their views on one another were not the most positive. However, this could not be further than true. Any time an interviewer would talk about or mention the other player, they would only say nice things about of another and talk with very high respect and admiration for one another. Ronaldo says that although they are not close friends, they have shared the spotlight of the sport for 16 years, he feels like Messi is a teammate. When Messi talks about Ronaldo, he always says they are both in it together and are always on the same level of one another, there were only ever positive words said about one another.


The Final Dance

On January 19th, 2023, Ronaldo and Messi shared the field once more for what is most likely to be the final time. It was a friendly match between Al-Nassr and PSG and was once again used to bring up the ‘GOAT’ debate. The game ended with a score of 5-4, PSG winning. Messi scored one goal in minute 3’, whereas Ronaldo scored 2 goals – minute 34’ and minute 45+5’ in extra time, the one in minute 34’ being a penalty. In the end Cristiano Ronaldo was named Man of the Match.