Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi in 2018 – Who had the better year?

After ten years, in 2018, the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly for the Ballon d’Or was broken but the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate still rages on. FOX Sports Asia dissects who had the better year.

Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018

Unsurprisingly, 2018 was yet another record-breaking season for Cristiano Ronaldo both on and off the pitch.

He was the top-scorer in the UEFA Champions League for the sixth consecutive season and won his fifth Champions League title. After his triumph with Real Madrid, he went to the World Cup and scored four goals which included a hat-trick against Spain. In the process, he became the second highest goalscorer in International football and the highest in teams from the European football federation.

Ronaldo also became the oldest hat-trick scorer at the FIFA World Cup and the first player to score in nine consecutive International tournaments.

After the World Cup, he moved to Juventus for €100 million which made him the most expensive player over 30-years-old. The fee Juventus paid for his services is more than what Real Madrid paid for him in 2009!

The 33-year-old continues to achieve small and big goalscoring feats in Italy and is currently the leading goalscorer in Serie A this season. Incredibly, he is Real Madrid’s top scorer for the year and Juventus’ second highest goal scorer for the year with just one goal fewer than Paulo Dybala’s tally.

In total, he scored 43 goals in all competitions at the club level in 2018 which is the second highest tally for the year. He also racked up 14 assists this year for Juventus and Real Madrid combined. For Portugal, Ronaldo scored six goals in only seven games and is the country’s top scorer for the year.

In addition to all his football-related exploits, Ronaldo also became the most followed person on Instagram.

Despite all of Ronaldo’s achievements, he finished second behind Luka Modric for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award, Ballon d’Or and The Best FIFA Football Awards in 2018.

Lionel Messi in 2018

In 2018, for the first time since 2006, Lionel Messi was not in the final three of the Ballon d’Or. The Argentine placed fifth in the Ballon d’Or race and if that wasn’t shocking, he was also named the fifth in UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award and The Best FIFA Football Awards!

If any other player other than Messi himself had the kind of year he had then that player would have won all the above-mentioned awards without a hint of doubt. We often take the genius of Leo Messi for granted.

In 2018, Messi added three more trophies to his cabinet by winning the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de España which took his overall trophy haul to 33. This means he could become the most decorated player in European football at the end of the ongoing season.

Messi also won the European Golden Shoe for the 2017/18 season which is his fifth overall and the most any player has won ever.

He totalled 47 goals and 23 assists in all competitions for Barcelona in 2018. His goals tally is the highest in Europe while his assists tally is the third highest in Europe behind only Dimitri Payet (26) and Luis Suarez (24). His total goals and assists tally of 70 for the year is thirteen more than the nearest competitor, Cristiano Ronaldo.

In addition to his 47 goals for Barcelona this year, Messi also scored four goals for Argentina. However, he had a disappointing World Cup where he still scored once and assisted twice in four games.

At the end of the 2017/18 season, Messi had the most goals, assists, chances created and dribbles completed in the La Liga. He tops all four charts this season as well and with a considerable margin.

Messi also has more goals and assists than any player in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season in addition to scoring six goals in the Champions League which is the second highest tally for the season in the competition at the moment.

The Verdict

Ronaldo made a lot of headlines in 2018 thanks to a few spectacular goals in crunch situations and also because of his big move to Juventus. However, it is hard to pick him over Messi in 2018 even though the major awards for the year tell a different story.

The diminutive Argentine was a cut above the rest this year. He was the chief orchestrator and the goalscorer for his side and dazzled the viewers with leg-tangling dribbles, spectacular free-kicks and extraordinary passes.

Even the statistics back up Messi this year. As already mentioned, his combined goals and assists tally for 2018 was thirteen more than Ronaldo is second place. To put things into perspective, two to ten on the list is separated by just 17 goals or assists.