El Centrocampista

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: The stats beyond the stats.


With one week to go until el clásico, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are, once again, fighting it out for supremacy – not only for another La Liga title, to say nothing about the Champions League, but also for a record number of goals scored during one season.

Everybody knows the current situation of course; Cristiano has reached 40 goals, Messi is just one behind with 39. The Argentinean leads the assists department with 14, compared to Ronaldo’s 11. However, there are a lot more stats behind these numbers that may escape the average fan. Until today that is, as we take the challenge of analysing every aspect of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during this amazing season.

Ronaldo not only leads La Liga in goals, he is also the only player who has taken more than 200 shots (221), Messi has taken 172 and the only other player with at least 100 shots is Falcao with 110. Cristiano certainly enjoys shooting. However his accuracy is not quite as impressive, as he has managed to shoot on target only 86 times, two fewer than Messi despite attempting almost 50 shots more. Messi, in contrast, is a master of accuracy, shooting on target 51,16% of the time – the fourth best average in La Liga among strikers with more than 50 shots. Ronaldo’s average is just under 39% (38,91%) and ranks 17 among strikers with over 50 shots.

On average Cristiano scores a goal every 5,5 shots s – the sixth best among La Liga strikers, while Leo scores every 4,4 shots – the second best among forwards with over 50 shots. In percentages, Cristiano scores 18,10% of his shots while Messi scores 22,67% of the time. When it comes to shots on target, the numbers become almost identical as the Portuguese scores every 2,2 shots on target and the Argentinean every 2,3. In percentage they are fourth and fifth respectively among La Liga striker with more than 30 shots on target, Ronaldo scores 46,51% of his shots on target, Messi 44,32%.

Even though the Barcelona striker is more accurate, the Madrid star compensates with his incredible amount of shots. When it comes to minutes both Leo and Cristiano score a goal every 70 minutes but the former Manchester United star shoots every 13 minutes, while the Barça playmaker does it every 16.

Regarding team participation, Messi has scored 41,49% of the Catalans goals while Ronaldo has scored 38,46% of the goals scored by Jose Mourinho’s men. Messi has also assisted 21,54% of  la blaugrana’s goals while CR7 only 13,75% of his team’s. Lionel leads La Liga in direct participation of his team goals (that’s in assists + goals) having participated in 56,38% of Barça goals this season, Ronaldo has participate in 49,04% – the third best in the league. Both player are the only two players so far to have assisted at least 10 goals and scored at least 10 goals, they also managed this a season ago.

Even in fouls and yellow cards they are evenly match, with Ronaldo leading the foul categories 24 to 23 while Messi leads the yellows six to four. The Portuguese hit man has only missed 66 minutes this season, the Argentinean 152.

In game to game performance, we find that Messi leads La Liga in games with at least one goal and one assists with nine, while Cristiano has only five. However, they both have the same number of games with two or more assists with three while Mou’s star pupil leads the league in matches with two or more goals with 12, Guardiola’s man has managed ‘just’ 10.

Both Messi and Ronaldo haven’t score during 11 La Liga matches this season, although their bigger league streak without scoring is two games, Lionel has gone through that ‘drought’ twice while CR7 on three different occasions.  On the other hand, the Real Madrid striker scored in five straight games while the Barcelona star is currently on a nine game streak in La Liga.

Neither has gone through any game without taking a shot, whereas they have both only had one game when they haven’t hit the target at all when shooting. Cristiano has had 26 games of five or more shots and seven with 10 or more, Messi has had 22 matches of five or more shots but the Argentinean has only taken 10 or more shots during one match.

In relation to their teams, the Portuguese international has taken the most shots for his side during 28 matches, he has bagged to most  goals in 17 games and led with the number of assists eight times. Lionel Messi has taken the most shots for Barca in 27 encounters, he has been the top scorer n 17 games and in six, the leader in assists. Leo has led his team in shots without scoring on nine occasions, Cristiano on seven occasions. In five matches they have led their clubs in shots on target while not scoring.

Meanwhile, on three occasion both players have failed to score, despite taking five or more shots, Messi even failed to score once, taking more than three shots on target (only five league players can say that). Whereas Ronaldo hasn’t managed to score a single goal in all four games that he didn’t lead Madrid in shots, Messi scored in two of his four chances. The Portuguese has scored in three of the 12 games he didn’t lead Mou’s side in shots on target, Messi only once in nine occasions.

The sheer amount of similarity and competitiveness between the stats of both players are a reflection of their quality, both Messi and Ronaldo are in a league of their own – just like Barcelona and Real Madrid. Leo has the edge in assists and accuracy but Cristiano takes advantage of a higher number of opportunities, the higher amount of shots and the 11 penalty goals are a good example of this. In the end, for these two, the most important stat of all will be who holds the largest number of trophies by the 20 May 2012.


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  2. Zurdo

    14 April, 2012 at 15:56

    Interesting stuff. Do you have the number of fouls they’ve suffered?

    • hd7sysbsysh

      1 November, 2014 at 08:49

      Fuk this sh*t stupid comments about ronaldo ya fuk face

  3. Javier J. Hernández

    14 April, 2012 at 17:36

    Hi Zurdo, I’m afraid that I don’t have that stat in particularly. Many thanks for reading this article and please check all the info that we have here at El Centrocampista.

  4. Anonymous

    14 April, 2012 at 18:47

    you should definitely get that stat it will show how baby back bitch messi dont get fouled as much as ronaldo

    • FCB1899

      14 April, 2012 at 18:54

      If you watch Messi, he does get fouled as much as Ronaldo – he just doesn’t go down as easily so free kicks aren’t given as often.

    • Name

      22 January, 2013 at 14:35


  5. Bill roubanis

    14 April, 2012 at 19:15

    Though I believe Messi to clearly be the better player, I must point out that the accuracy stats are deceiving because Ronaldo takes more shots from distance

    • Rick Santorum

      15 April, 2012 at 18:28

      Well yes but perhaps the lesson is he shouldn’t shoot that often from very far if his accuracy will suffer… perhaps he’d be better off passing in those opportunities and getting more assists, like Messi?

  6. Javier J. Hernández

    14 April, 2012 at 19:52

    Thanks for your opinions for me fouls suffered isn’t a big stat, a lot have to do with the referee quality and fouls call and not call, dive, etc. Don’t think is relevant. That is my opinion yours may be different.


  7. scott

    14 April, 2012 at 19:54

    How about Ronaldo having.the most goals scored from outside the box..

  8. matt

    14 April, 2012 at 21:06

    the difference is the team, I think scoring with barca is more easy for someone who has scoring ability + all barca playaers feed messi and there’s not too much ego, it different on a team like RM.

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  10. Javier J. Hernández

    14 April, 2012 at 21:22

    Well Matt I wouldn’t defend that argument when Cristiano has DiMaria and Ozil with 14 and 15 assists respectively, while Messi has Alves with 10 as the leader (not including Messi). Plus Madrid has made 80 assists to Barcelona 65. Like I said in the article Leo is more accurate, Ronaldo takes advantage of more chances.

    • imz

      14 April, 2012 at 23:40

      And the Brits claim that the EPL is the best league with its “dying minutes” goals. La Liga rules! Quality passing soccer even when Zaragoza plays Gijon. Even in England, Messi, CR7, FCB and RM would all be in a separate league. Wow, unbelievable stuff.

      • PZCR

        23 April, 2012 at 20:53

        Ronaldo has proven himself in the toughest physical league in the world. I can assure you that Messi would be lucky to score a reach 20 goals in the Premiership as here you are actually allowed to be tackle. Messi plays in a machine built for him in a system of play he has played since he was a kid Xavi,Inniesta etc. Its no suprise he is not even the main man when he plays for Argentina.

        Ronaldo has proven himself in the worlds tougest league. Cr has had to carry RM for the past two seasons. RM is a team in the making Barca are a complete team. CR would score more goals if he played for Barca. Stats are misleading and I should know I have an honours degree in stats. The point made earlier about ronnie taking more shots from outside the area confirms one fact and distorts the other. Distortion 1 is accuaracy. its harder to be accurate from a distance (ronaldo takes shots from outside the area, messi is served on a plate inside the area) Distortion 2: RM creates more chances. What do you define as a chance? Is a chance defined as a ” a pass outside the area to ronaldo is that a chance” or a pinpoint assist from Xavi onto Messi’s left foot for a tap-in / or easy pass into goal.

        I could go on Comments please

        • Ruari Macpherson

          28 April, 2012 at 11:15

          thanks for your opinion, its great to know there is someone out there that agrees with my opinion, you are 100% correct with everything you have said.
          thanks for sharing

        • aaron johnson

          30 September, 2012 at 20:58

          always the same nonsensical arguement to try to make up for the fact that messi is far superior in all departments. cr7 played for the best team in the world in man utd and not a team like bolton. pele, maradonna, cruyff, beckenbauer, zidane etc never played in england so i take it that they would have all failed. get a life, messi makes everyone around him better not the other way around. put messi on that utd team and they would have won 3 champions league titles

          • PZCR

            30 December, 2012 at 02:56

            Nonsensical?? I did not make the argument that Pele Maradona Cruyff, Zidane or Beckenbauer would have failed if they played in the Premiership. In fact they would all have been brilliant. When they played they were kicked harried , punched etc and yet they rose above it …. they would have succeeded. Zidane also had a tough streak ( he played in Italy). I only pointed out that Messi would not be as prolific as he is yet to show that he can play in a physical league. There is no disputing the briliiance of Messi , but it needs to be put into context

        • Peleg

          4 November, 2012 at 17:28

          Check the statistics of lately to see who is the main man in the Argentinian team.”MESSI”.Check his hat tricks and doubles.Check how many match in a roll he has scored for Argentina now.It shows you are not informed and ignorant about so many things.Check statistics pls.

        • Big Fella

          3 December, 2012 at 16:26

          I like how you say you have an honours degree. When such a genius like yourself talks about being served on a plate shows how much brain you really have. Being the top assist in his team as well as top scorer kind of shows he creates play.

          Talking about a team in the Making, Real have spent hundreds of millions but cannot get the team right. How about develop players from the seconds and youth teams.

          Ronaldo played in the toughest league according to you. thats why he learnt to shoot from far and not bother taking on defenders that can shut him down, where as Messi takes those defenders on to create his “chance and scores the goal” Ronaldo missed to games for a cut over his eyebrow, i am sure that hindered his ability to see the goals that much that he had to be rested. What a woos. Maybe you should go do your honours again and maybe this time try to actually understand what your course of study is

        • manniman

          9 January, 2013 at 20:01

          Your post is based 100% on conjecture, a guess at best. The fact is that we have no idea if Messi would be as good or even better in another team or another league for that matter. WHEN and IF Messi plays for another team or league only then will we know but factually, as of right now, CR can’t compare to Messi.

          One… Two, CR has carried nothing at RM like you claim, he’s not the one creating the chances, that’s Ozil and DiMaria. If you claim that CR carries RM than you have absolutely no choice but to claim that Messi carries Barcelona, even more so for the fact that Messi has lead them in goals and chances created in each of the past 4 years, and in assists as well last year. Furthermore, Benzema has a similar scoring ratio not counting penalties (goals/mins) and Higuain has actually a superior one to CR, -I’m not even counting the fact that CR takes all direct FK that as we’ve seen can just as well be struck by Ozil, Alonso or even Ramos- so it could be argued that they (Higuain, Benzema) would score just as much as CR if they had played as many minutes and/or taken the penalties. CR is one of many parts that are important in RM, Messi pretty much is Barcelona.

          BTW a scoring chance is usually defined as a pass that leads to a shot on goal that may or may not result in a goal; an assist is a pass that results in a goal. BTW, CR’s assist/min ratio is inferior to both Higuain and Benzema since last season…

    • PZCR

      30 December, 2012 at 03:03

      1.As I asked before what do you define as an assist?

    • PZCR

      30 December, 2012 at 03:07

      What do you define as a chance? If chances are limited to oppertunites created inside the area the stats would be very different. Leo’s chances are much nearer to goal. could you confirm?

  11. Anonymous

    14 April, 2012 at 22:52

    Thanks for this, it’s nice to see some of the stats that are usually overlooked…football is a beautiful game, but more statistics should be taken into account when comparing players and analysing their overall performance, although it is understandably difficult at times, since they don’t always reflect performances accurately as they may in other sports, which is why I have occasionally been against football analysts looking too much into statistics. I would be interested in seeing passing percentage (also the types of passes made, long short, crosses, throughballs, etc), participation and involvement in team goals, not just from assists and goals, but being involved in the buildup play, and possibly also distance covered and goal scoring chances created, successful dribbles percentage, types of goals scored, fouls drawn, balls lost, balls won, etc. if any of these were available anywhere.

  12. Javier J. Hernández

    15 April, 2012 at 00:06

    Thanks Anonymous

    I agree 100% “more statistics should be taken into account when comparing players and analysing their overall performance, although it is understandably difficult at times, since they don’t always reflect performances accurately as they may in other sports.”

    That is something I try to work on every single day, but as you said is really hard and both time and resources are hardly available. Football can be measure and in a right accurate way, with the right work and minds working together. However, is not something that you will see frequently.

    I will love to work with all of those stats, sadly they aren’t free or easy to get. Either way, is not a one-man job and all my stats come front my own research and time invested on my own database. Therefore I get as many as I can but far from what I really want.

    You seem to know about this world, so if you want to talk more about stats you can always follow me on twitter or write me an email, I will be more than happy to answer you.


    • PZCR

      30 December, 2012 at 03:00

      I keep hearing about assists. Do you have the stats on chances created for team members that were not converted. Assists only tell part of the story not all of it

  13. Jamie

    15 April, 2012 at 01:11

    As mentioned, Ronaldo takes many more shots from outside. I’d be interested to see their accuracy within the box as I suspect it’s virtually the same. Overall for one year I’d take Ronaldo – his free kick strikes are something to behold. That knuckle ball is devastating. I feel that Ronaldo is superior there and they’re mostly even otherwise. Messi does have better balance but if the whistle is blown it’s not that big of an issue.

    • Rick Santorum

      15 April, 2012 at 18:02

      Ronaldo’s free kicks are amazing… when they work. Which is like 1/50. On the season Messi has scored one and Ronaldo I believe two free kicks (and taken way more, as Alves, Villa, and Xavi take for FCB but basically only Ronaldo for Madrid). Basically, if Ronaldo’s scoring rate on free kicks is any better it’s only by a marginal amount and it’s unlikely to make too much of a difference over the course of a season…

      • aaron johnson

        30 September, 2012 at 21:01

        you got it. cr7 shoots from outside so much because unlike messi he can’t carve through defences like the maestro messi

    • James Blackett

      17 October, 2012 at 19:15

      Have you checked the stats to see how many of those shots Ronaldo have taken from outside enters the net? Only few goes inside….

    • Peleg

      4 November, 2012 at 17:12

      The problem is not about taking free kicks,its about taking it and converting it.You should ask yourself how many free kicks has Ronaldo converted.Then u will be surprised he takes alot of free kicks but does not convert them.Example of free kick kickers are David Beckamp,Juninho…Of lately.Messi even converts free kicks than Ronaldo..

  14. Tom

    15 April, 2012 at 08:34

    Would be interested to see how many of those shots Ronadlo is taking after he scores his first goal or before.

    Does he score and then just tries whatever he can to score more?


    Does he take a while to get going on the first goal?

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  16. Javier J. Hernández

    15 April, 2012 at 15:24

    Thanks for your thoughts Tom, sadly I don’t have that info are many other stats that can and should be analyze but for most of them you need both money and time in amounts that right now I don’t possess.

    Thanks to all of you that read, RT, shared and comment this article, muchas gracias.

  17. Josue

    15 April, 2012 at 16:27

    Hi Javier! Great article. Do you have any idea how many balls either player has lost, including turn overs and missed shots? How about recoveries? Thanks!

  18. Deji

    15 April, 2012 at 20:05

    If you want † fairly compare accuracy, U̶̲̥̅̊ should compare those i̶̲̥̅̊n̶̲̅ †ђξ box ώĩ†̥ђ those outside †ђξ box. Because shots taken outside †ђξ box are a lot more difficult. Apart from that, †ђξ stats make a lot of sense.

  19. Javier J. Hernández

    15 April, 2012 at 21:26

    Thanks for your opinion Deji, like I said, sadly I don’t have that info.

    Though regarding the subject, since a lot of people has written about it. Nobody force a player to take more shots outside the box, if you are less accurate because of that (and is understandable that you will) you should consider taking less shots (I think). But I agree it will be interesting to see both players accurate with shots inside the box and shots outside the box as the numbers could be really interesting. Though, you still need the total amount to determinate who is more accurate, the outside/inside relation can give you an explanation but not a result. For example Ronaldo has also shot 10/10 in penalties so taking out the penalties his accurate may be worst, but his real accurate needs to be measure base in his total shots. You just can’t pick a number of shots to determinate the accuracy of a player.

    Thanks so much for all your opinions, you all have great points and sadly the lack of data is a big problem when we talk about stats. But the article has had an amazing success. We are really happy and I thank you all for your opinions, it definitely helps me make a better job, hope to see you all in other articles as well.

    • PZCR

      30 December, 2012 at 03:12

      That is an aweful answer and betrays your clear biastowards Messi. “Nobody force a player to take more shots outside the box, if you are less accurate because of that (and is understandable that you will) you should consider taking less shots (I think).” “Though, you still need the total amount to determinate who is more accurate, the outside/inside relation can give you an explanation but not a result.” Of course it can give you a result you simply have to qualify the findings.

  20. MB

    16 April, 2012 at 00:27

    SO, how many penalties has Messi taken since Barcelona cried in the media about the refs?

  21. Durai

    17 April, 2012 at 14:18

    Hi there,

    how do we follow you on facebook or twitter?

    I can’t find you on twitter.


  22. Javier J. Hernández

    17 April, 2012 at 18:29

    My twitter is @javierjotah there is also a button on the news right next to my pic.


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  26. Deji

    24 April, 2012 at 16:48

    Nice work. Keep it up!

  27. Anonymous

    16 May, 2012 at 21:06

    I think that the only reason why Messi doesn’t deliver while playing for Argentina is because he plays wing instead of striker. Maradona should just take Higuain off of ST position and put Messi instead, he’s better anyways.

    • PZCR

      30 December, 2012 at 03:15

      Do you realise that Ronaldo Plays as a left forward for RM. So we are here comparing a winger to a striker

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  29. peter

    13 October, 2012 at 16:03

    When we talk of freekicks, Messi is better this season.
    C. Ronaldo is an average player.
    In the past 3 years, La Liga + Champion League
    C. Ronaldo shot 179 times and 15 goals ONLY.

    • Peleg

      4 November, 2012 at 17:01

      I strongly agree with u,Messi is more better this season in free kicks than Ronaldo.How many free kicks does Ronaldo convert.

      • Peleg

        4 November, 2012 at 18:11

        Again,i strongly deny the fact that it is trophies that would decide the faith between Ronaldo and Messi in who is the best.Messi was the best striker in La Liga last year despite the fact Ronaldo won La Liga.Ronaldo second him.When it also comes to assist,Messi still outweighed Ronaldo with 16 assist to Ronaldo’s 12 making him the second highest passer in La Liga.In Champions League,the same thing.Highest goal scorer with passes as well.The worst of it is his breaking records.50 goals in La Liga,the only player to do that breaking Ronaldo’s record,14 goals in Champions League being the second player to ever score 14 goals in one champions league campaign,he also has the highest number of assist.He also scored a total of 73 goals in Europe breaking Gerd Muller’s record of 67 goals winning his second golden boots in a grand style.He scored more hat tricks than Ronaldo breaking Ronaldo’s hat trick record of 6 last campaign.He has already scored more than 43 goals as set by Ronaldo in 2011 and we are still in November.He is more than Cristiano Ronaldo,the statistics speak for itself….

  30. uttam lama

    12 November, 2012 at 18:08

    i don t think messi is better than c.ronaldo in each and every aspect. Messi doesn t have dipping technique, freekick accuracy and shooting power as much as c.ronaldo can do.

    • GGG

      22 November, 2012 at 14:47

      Freekick accuracy??? Ronaldo has a terrible freekick accuracy. It take him around 40 tries to finally get one in. That’s terrible. His dipping technique is beautiful when it goes in but it’s very inefficient most of the time. Go look at Juninho on youtube and you’ll see that he uses the same technique but he has a far better conversion rate that Ronaldo.
      Ronaldo has more power in his shots than Messi but he has far less accuracy.

  31. Iman

    14 March, 2013 at 18:49

    Thanks for your good article .
    You have your fans always .

    • Name

      26 November, 2013 at 01:25

      Ronaldo is a cry baby messi is god ……

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