Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Messi vs. Ronaldo

It's coming.  El Clasico.  Clash of the Titans, twice a year.  And for this match, with only one point currently separating defending champions FC Barcelona and their arch-rivals Real Madrid, the stakes are higher than usual.

As we anticipate the coming derby, the focus will naturally be on each team's respective superstar.  And that means Lional Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the two greatest stars in football today.  What a matchup!  Fans live for this sort of encounter.

So the question has to be asked: which of these two stars is the better player?  Call me partisan, but here are four reasons why Messi Wan Kenobi is the better player:

1.  Messi is the better team player.  Let's face it-- they can both be a bit selfish, but Ronaldo's glory-lust is a bit more transparent, while Messi will just as readily dish off to a teamate, than take the shot himself.  People like to see their champions share the glory.

2.  Messi is both younger and yet more mature.  Two years younger than his great rival, Lionel Messi has already reached the same heights of international stardom, with more steam left in his legs.  Yet despite the age difference, Messi seems the more mature figure--see ' team player,' above.

3.  Messi seems more determined.  To state it plainly: Ronaldo is a diver.  He has taken so many transparently fake dives on the pitch, perhaps he should try out for the Portuguese national dive team and make it official.  Conversely, Messi will take a hit on his smallish frame before he goes down, trying to the last to keep a play going.  His obvious determination is admirable.

4.  Messi has a better attitude.  How many times have we seen Ronaldo pitch one of his patented temper tantrums about some play or another?  He's always arguing with the referee or crying about something or just generally throwing a temper tantrum.  Now ask yourself-- how often do you see Lionel Messi carrying on like that?  Not nearly so often.  He never stops before a match is over, his head is never down, and the only time he attracts attention to himself, is when the ball is at his feet. 

It is undeniably true that Cristiano Ronaldo is a huge, huge talent.  Everyone knows it.  And yet that is the problem, because Ronaldo knows it too, so he acts like everyone owes him something.  Basically, the man is a Football Prima Donna.  And yet, despite fundamentally similar talents and a similar level of professional success, Lionel Messi seems not to have fallen into the same ego traps, at least as far as we can tell from his behavior both on and off the pitch.  No one reaches this level of professional sports without having developed a considerable ego; but Lionel Messi seems to hide it better than Cristiano Ronaldo, and hence comes off as a more likeable figure and a better teamate. 

They have a word for this: Character.