This year’s FIFA World Cup brings in the best players to represent their nation in hopes to lift the most prestigious trophy in international football.
With that in mind, there are two players who stand out, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.
These two living legends still have years to play in the sport but have cemented themselves as two of the best players.
Individual awards and team triumphs are endless in their resumes, and both are known for breaking various club and country records on their way to immortality. Unfortunately, the glaring thing missing from their trophy cabinets is a World Cup.
They are undoubtedly looking to win at least once before they call it a career and Russia may be witness to their greatness again.
While they are known for breaking records when they’re on the pitch, here are a few FIFA World Cup records that might be close to impossible for them to match.
MOST FIFA WORLD CUPS
Starting off with the most obvious is the record for having won the most World Cups. That distinction goes to Brazilian legend Pele.
Another name constantly in the mix alongside Ronaldo and Messi as the best ever, Pele was part of an incredible Brazil squad that dominated opponents when they took the pitch.
Pele was one of the best players in the squad and, as a result, won three World Cups. His first was in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Next in line are Ronaldo, Cafu and Giuseppe Meazza who were able to win the World Cup twice.
With Messi and Ronaldo now 30 and 33, respectively, they would need to play at least eight more years of international football to match Pele’s feat.
MOST GOALS SCORED IN ONE WORLD CUP
Among all the records, this might be the most difficult to overcome. Messi and Ronaldo are thrust under the spotlight as they have been close to invincible throughout their careers.
In 1958, France international Just Fontaine set a gold standard in scoring goals as he netted 13 times in the competition.
This helped the French team reach the semi-finals where they met Pele and Brazil before ultimately losing 5-2.
The closest anyone has come to equalling Fontaine’s record was in 1970 when Germany legend Gerd Muller scored 10 times in the competition.
As for Messi and Ronaldo, they have found life difficult in the competition, with the Argentine netting only five times his entire World Cup career, while Ronaldo has only done so three times for Portugal.
OLDEST GOALSCORER IN THE COMPETITION
For this record, everyone will have to wait and see whether the two football stalwarts are willing to play international football even if they are way past their prime.
This record is held by Roger Milla of Cameroon when he scored in the 1994 World Cup match against Russia.
During the time, Milla was 42 years, one month and eight days old when he found the back of thenet.
Messi and Ronaldo are in their 30s and still have a lot of football left in them. The bigger question here is whether Argentina and Portugal can still find a competitive squad when their two best players are not at their peak any longer.
Ronaldo is showing signs of slowing down which may lead one to assume he wouldn’t be around for Portugal much longer. Meanwhile, Messi has once announced his retirement in international football so more heartbreaks might be too much for the Argentine if they fail to win the World Cup in the coming years.
MOST GOALS SCORED IN THEIR WORLD CUP CAREER
Related to one of the previous records, Messi and Ronaldo are known for setting scoring records with their respective clubs.
At the moment, Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals scored for Real Madrid at 450 across all competitions and is also the gold standard for his national team at 81 goals scored.
Meanwhile, Messi leads Barcelona’s goal count at 586 goals across all competitions while also leading Argentina’s scoring record with 64.
However, when it comes to the World Cup, Germany legend Mirsolav Klose is the record-holder with 16 World Cup goals to his name.
The previous two names should score more than 10 in this World Cup edition to come close to reaching the German’s record.
MOST WORLD CUP FINAL APPEARANCES
Lastly, the record that Messi and Ronaldo may find difficult to reach is the most number of FIFA World Cup final appearances.
That distinction goes to Brazil’s Cafu who was featured in the final in 1994, 1998 and 2002. He is the only player who has able to achieve that feat.
Pele may have three World Cup wins but was not featured in the 1962 final due to injury.
As it stands, Messi and Ronaldo only have one World Cup final appearance between them, and this was in 2014 when Argentina reached the final but ultimately lost to Germany.
For them to continue playing to reach Cafu’s record, success must still be within reach in the coming years for their respective national teams.