Messi or Ronaldo? Football's hottest debate rages on in Qatar | Inquirer Sports

Messi or Ronaldo? Football’s hottest debate rages on in Qatar

/ 11:30 AM December 09, 2022
Portugal's forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from the penalty spot as a banner depicting Argentine forward Lionel Messi is seen at the back during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group H football match between Portugal and Ghana at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 24, 2022.

Portugal’s forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal from the penalty spot as a banner depicting Argentine forward Lionel Messi is seen at the back during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group H football match between Portugal and Ghana at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 24, 2022. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

DOHA— It may have been a rest day at the World Cup on Thursday but there was no stopping the football discussion that never ends – who is the better player, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

With no games in the Qatari capital for the second straight day, fans streamed to the Souk Waqif to shop and see the sights, and the decade-long debate about who is the GOAT – the “greatest of all time” – continued in the cafes and restaurants.

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Fans of Argentina, who meet Netherlands in their World Cup quarter-final on Friday, and Portugal, who take on Morocco on Saturday, were well-represented in the narrow streets and squares of the souk, with plenty of neutrals weighing in too.

“It’s Ronaldo – I think Ronaldo’s all-round game is superb. I think he’s more versatile than Messi, who has a wonderful left foot, but Ronaldo is the better footballer and athlete,” England fan David Barley told Reuters.

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Fellow England supporter and Arsenal Fan TV host Robbie Lyle disagreed.

“It’s got to be Messi now — I’ve been to all the games out here and Messi, in the last game (against Australia), he ran the show,” he told Reuters.

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d Cristiano Ronaldo (L) walks past Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Barcelona and Juventus at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 8, 2020.

FILE–Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) walks past Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League game. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

The 35-year-old Messi and Ronaldo, who is two years older, have dominated football’s most polarising debate for the best part of 10 years, especially when they were rivals at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Both are playing at their fifth World Cup but neither has yet won the trophy. It is the only major accolade to elude them in their glittering careers, and this may be their last chance to achieve it.

Ronaldo being benched in Portugal’s 6-1 demolition of Switzerland has caused some of his die-hard fans to reconsider the current state of affairs.

“Today? It’s probably Messi, but overall I prefer Ronaldo – I’m a Portugal fan, Sporting is my team, so Ronaldo,” American fan Melo Barrows said.

Wearing a traditional white thobe in the bustling souk, Badr Saleh Debel from Saudi Arabia said he had no doubt in his mind – Messi is the greatest.

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“Messi, Messi, absolutely Messi,” he said. “It’s not about the ball, the goals, the history. He’s a good player, he scores also, he assists — what a player, he’s the best player of all time.”

With the two greats are in the twilight of their careers, there is only sure one way to decide whose legacy will be the greatest, according to Melo Barrows.

“A Portugal-Argentina final would be the best scenario,” he said.

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