Lionel Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo - world's greatest players locked in new battle

The stars of Barcelona and Real Madrid are vying to be Champions League top scorer

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The Independent Football

Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid has been characterised by his battle with Lionel Messi to be recognised as the world's greatest player, however the Portugal international has been consistently outdone by his Barcelona counterpart.

The past four Ballon d'Or awards have been won by Messi - with Ronaldo the runner-up in three of those years after winning the award himself while a Manchester United player in 2008.

Since switching to the Bernabeu, Ronaldo witnessed Barca win the league title twice before he could call himself a champion, and the league trophy is destined for the Nou Camp again this season.

And Ronaldo's role as the bridesmaid has extended beyond the domestic front to Europe. Messi has been the top scorer in the Champions League for the past four seasons, as well as winning the trophy in two of the last four years. However that could all be about to change.

Ronaldo scored twice last night in Real Madrid's defeat to Galatasaray to take his season's tally in Europe to 11 - three ahead of Burak Yilmaz, who will be scoring no more after the Turkish side went out on aggregate, and Lionel Messi - who are both on eight goals for the season.

CR7's brace also meant he took his tally of European goals to 50 - 16 for United and 34 for Real.

Speaking after last night's game, Real manager Jose Mourinho was full of praise for his talismanic forward.

"There nothing left to say, the statistics are there and speak for themselves," Mourinho told a news conference.

"What I think about Ronaldo is what everyone thinks. I don't think anyone in perfect mental health thinks any differently."

With a semi-final to look forward to and a possible final at Wembley, Ronaldo will be confident of adding to his tally and ensuring Messi's run as top scorer comes to an end.

"Goals help us to win matches and it is what I have been doing since I arrived here (at Real)," Ronaldo told reporters in Istanbul yesterday.

"I am and I feel good and motivated," he added. "The team too and they are giving me good passes so I can do my work, which is to score goals."

The possibility of being usurped by Ronaldo on the goal scoring front will ensure Messi does everything in his power to feature against PSG tonight. The sides meet at the Nou Camp with the tie delicately poised at 2-2, and after hurting his hamstring in the first leg, Messi is a serious doubt for the match.

Messi's fine fitness record and Barca's consistent involvement in the latter stages of the tournament have undoubtedly aided the Argentinean's run to the top of the scoring charts over the years.

And while his absence will not necessarily hamper Barca's chances of progress tonight - they won 4-0 against Bate Borisov when he last missed a European match, back in December 2011 - it could hurt his hopes of making it five years in a row as Champions League top scorer.

Messi is not used to losing, and he certainly doesn't like it. Particularly to Ronaldo.


Champions League goals this season...


v Spartak Moscow (home), group stage, 19/09/12 - 2 goals

v Celtic (away), group stage, 07/11/12 - 1 goal

v Spartak Moscow (away), group stage, 20/11/12 - 2 goals

v AC Milan (home), knockout phase, 12/03/13 - 2 goals

v Paris Saint-Germain, knockout phase, 02/04/13 - 1 goal



v Manchester City (home), group stage, 18/09/12 - 1 goal

v Ajax (away), group stage, 03/10/12 - 3 goals

v Borussia Dortmund (away), group stage, 24/10/12 - 1 goal

v Ajax (home), group stage, group stage, 04/12/12 - 1 goal

v Manchester United (home), knockout phase, 13/02/13 - 1 goal

v Manchester United (away), knockout phase, 05/03/13 - 1 goal

v Galatasaray (home), knockout phase, 03/04/13 - 1 goal

v Galatasaray (away), knockout phase, 09/04/13 - 2 goals