36 appearances, 0 titles - Messi and Ronaldo's World Cup careers in Opta data

We use Opta data to compare the records of Argentina superstar Lionel Messi and Portugal icon Cristiano Ronaldo at World Cups.

Messi will be 35 when Qatar 2022 comes around, while Ronaldo will be closing in on his 38th birthday.   -  Getty Images

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two biggest stars in modern football. They have won five Ballons d'Or apiece and lifted every trophy possible for Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively.

But, the superstar duo were eliminated from the 2018 World Cup on the same day, Argentina bowing out to France before Portugal was defeated by Uruguay in the last 16 on Saturday.

Consequently, the greatest title in international football still evades them. Messi will be 35 when Qatar 2022 comes around, while Ronaldo will be closing in on his 38th birthday.

With their chances of winning the World Cup before the end of their illustrious careers and having their claim to be seen as the greatest of all time having taken a severe blow, we use Opta data to compare their records at international football's top table.



Messi (19) has made two more World Cup appearances than Ronaldo (17), helped by a run to the final in 2014 – further than the Portugal captain has ever gone in the competition.

Ronaldo's seven strikes, four of which came in Russia, moved him ahead of the six by Messi, whose only goal this year was a fine finish against Nigeria to help Argentina avoid a shock group-stage exit.

The Madrid man has proved slightly less efficient with a shot conversion rate of 7.7 per cent, narrowly behind Messi scoring with 8.3% of his efforts on goal. However, neither player has scored a World Cup goal in the knockout stages.

READ: Ronaldo’s girlfriend bullied by trolls as Portugal exits World Cup


Messi has proved more of a team player, perhaps unsurprising given Argentina relies on him far more for playmaking than Portugal do from Ronaldo.

The diminutive forward's five assists surpass Ronaldo's two, while Messi has created 54 chances – averaging just under three per 90 minutes - for his team-mates, more than twice as many as the Portuguese icon (22).

The data also suggests the Argentina captain attempts to link the play more. He averages 48.8 passes in World Cup matches, while his rival's figure stands at just 30.5.

Ronaldo proves ever so slightly more precise, though, with a passing accuracy of 84.6 per cent edging Messi's 83.7.

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The duo dribble in contrasting styles. Messi is more about close control and agility, while Ronaldo is about power, pace and directness.

On average, Messi (9.59) can be relied upon to run at the opposition four times more than Ronaldo (5.25) per 90 minutes.

The Barca star averages over six successful dribbles per World Cup match, comfortably clear of Ronaldo's 2.32.

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