Tag Archives: UEFA

Why Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo (and will always be)

After the aftermath the UEFA European Championship in which Portugal, an unlikely winner, clinched its first international professional trophy, there were several praises for Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain of the national squad. Some deserved, some not. At the end of the day, despite the win, football fans should not forget that Lionel Messi was involved in another continental competition, la Copa America Centenario, a little earlier this summer and led his country to the final against the defending champion and, despite started the competition and on the bench injured, managed to tear the competition apart (5 goals, 4 assists in 5 games, 3 games started). Argentina ultimately lost on penalty kicks against Chile, for the second year in a row.

If Gonzalo Higuain would have been able to do to Chile and Claudio Bravo what Eder has done to France and Hugo Lloris in the final, Argentina may have won its first senior trophy since 1993, Lionel Messi would finally win a professional trophy with La Albiceleste, and critics would not have been so harsh and cruel versus the Argentine superstar, five-time Ballon d’Or winner and on the receiving end of countless individual and collective honours during his career, which started officially in 2004.

While CR7 is older and started his career a few seasons before Leo Messi, there is no doubt in my mind that La Pulga is the better player. While the former is physical phenomenon, a great header of the ball, and goal-scoring machine (especially since joining La Liga Santander) and without a doubt one of the best player of the last 20 years, Messi can do pretty everything on a football pitch. The little man can score, assist, pass the ball, direct the play and play in numerous positions with efficiency. We have seen Messi play as a number 10, 9, 9 and a half, as a winger and even as a number six (versus Germany in 2010 was shocking to see). He is up there with the likes of Pelé, Diego Armando Maradona, Garrincha, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff. His simplification of the game and the fear that he strikes towards his opponents are simply baffling, while Ronaldo has often been absent during big games and Portugal’s victory in the final without their captain plus Real Madrid CF’s penalty kicks win against their local rivals, Atlético de Madrid, in the Champions League final with an absent and inefficient number 7 can testify furthermore of this fact.

The statistics, the silverware won and the impact on the pitch do not lie. Lionel Andres Messi is currently the best footballer on the planet and the question should be: where will he rank in the history of the game when his career will end.

And he should be the current favourite for the Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or 2016 if you look at statistics and honours won so far for the calendar year.

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Messi vs. Ronaldo (FIFA Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 27

While Lionel Messi is done playing international football with Argentina (for the summer (he is not scheduled to appear in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games soccer tournament in August), Cristiano Ronaldo is still alive with Portugal at the Euro 2016, thanks to penalty shootout win versus Poland in the quarterfinals of the competition. CR7, despite not appearing on the scoresheet again in this tournament, still managed to score his spot kick and help his country to a third European Championship semi-final appearance in the last four editions.

Week 27 – here are the updated statistics between the two FIFA Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or collectors:

L. Messi 39 games 34 goals 23 assists 2 trophies won
C. Ronaldo 33 games 31 goals 10 assists 1 trophy won
Total Messi 6 games Messi 3 goals Messi 13 assists Messi 1 trophy

Stay tuned….

Messi vs. Ronaldo (FIFA Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 24-26

Lionel Messi and Argentina reached the final of La Copa America Centenario versus Chile last Sunday and once again, lost on penalties. Which means that La Pulga is still in search of his first senior’s title with La Albiceleste. Messi compiled an impressive 5 goals and 4 assists in five games during the tournament (he was a substitute against Panama and Bolivia in the group stage).

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal have reached the Quarterfinals of the Euro 2016 in their Round of 16 match against Croatia thanks to a late goal, in extra-time, by Ricardo Quaresma. CR7, so far, has had two goals in four games in the competition.

Here are the stats from January 01st to June 28th, 2016 between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (including all competitions from club to country):

L. Messi 39 games 34 goals 23 assists 2 trophies won
C. Ronaldo 32 games 31 goals 10 assists 1 trophy won
Total Messi 7 games Messi 3 goals Messi 13 assists Messi 1 trophy

Stay tuned….

Cristiano Ronaldo and the Euros

The Portuguese superstar, fresh winner of his third Champions League medal, will feature in his fourth European championship, in France this year. Here are his results:

2004 – Loss in the final against Greece, in Portugal, 1-0.

2008 – Quarterfinal loss versus Germany, 3-1, in Austria/Switzerland.

2012 – Semifinal loss against future champions, Spain, on the penalty kicks (0-0, 5-3 a.e.t.), in Poland/Ukraine.

2016 – ?

Portugal, despite difficult results in recent tournaments, has always been a difficult team to play against. At some point, during the last decade, boasting players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Deco, Maniche, Rui Costa, Vitor Baía, Costinha, Pauleta, Ricardo Carvalho and others, the country of the late Eusebio was very close to actually win the 2004 UEFA European Championship at home (see the result above) and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany (losing to France, 1-0, in the semifinal).

Although, I do not expect the Portuguese national squad to win it all this year, I would not be surprise if they make a good run and goes good deep in the tournament.

Unfortunately, the lack of depth will probably be a major key, especially if facing teams such as Germany, France, Belgium or Spain.

Stay tuned…

Kicking Diving Out of Football

Several football governing bodies have currently lot of issues to deal with.

Corruption scandals which have hit FIFA, for example, in the past few months and years have given the main football institution several headaches and might take, for the Swiss -based organization, a long time to recover.

On a positive side, it has accomplished some positives such the “kick racism out of football” campaign. Banners have been displayed before matches and during national anthems to make sure that the message is loud and clear that the biggest governing body in the game does not tolerate it.

Unfortunately, another problem, of a different nature, is putting the game into more shame. And it is called diving or playacting. Football is not the only collective sport who suffers from it, but it is often mentioned as an example when an incident occurs. A few weeks ago, there was another sordid embarrassing example during a Champions League match, out of all competitions, when the Real Madrid and Brazilian defender, Marcelo, did one of the worst playacting that you would ever see. After slightly kicking his opponent, the latter reacted slightly and Marcelo went down as if he was either shot down or badly beaten.

This “incident” reminded us that the phenomenon is still present and not disappearing anytime soon. It was a disgraceful gesture, plain and simple. Marcelo and the VlF Wolfsburg player were cautioned, but it just goes to show how deep the issue currently runs in football, that even during a match such as a Champions League quarterfinals tie, some players are still keen on trying to deceive referees, even if it has the potential of failing, making them look ridiculous in front of a large audience and give them a reputation for being actors.

Marcelo is obviously not the only one who does it. There are many. Many who are great footballers are well. and while there is no need to mention any names, at the end, football associations have “to tackle” the problem with more muscle and more desire than ever. Issuing a yellow card when a referee sees that a player has committed a dive is a very good step. Now, it need to be “kicked out of the game”.

Other possible solutions could be to act retroactively when a player is accused of playacting. Issuing suspensions and fines to the player and also the club. Increasing the penalties if there are repetitions from the same players and clubs.

Playacting/diving is an attack and an insult on the game of football and its integrity. It can also change the outcome of a match and leave a bitter taste to teams, fans and journalists. The Beautiful Game, as Mr. Pelé wonderfully described it, deserves better and its governing bodies have to take on this problem with more hunger and desire than ever before. To see it happen would be fantastic. We shall see.

Stay tuned…

2016 Ballon d’Or – Messi vs. Ronaldo (Week 15)

This week, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ave been shutout statistically wise. No goal, no assist. This leaves us with the following numbers since January 01st. We count all competitions such club competitions and country competitive games and friendlies.

In La Liga, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored one goal and two assists this Saturday, at home, against Eibar in a 4-0 win for Real Madrid, while Lionel Messi was shutout once again, at la Real Sociedad, with a 1-0 defeat for the Catalan giants.

So far, Messi leads in every aspect of the game and is on course to win a sixth Ballon d’Or. Of course, we are still way early. (In bold, the leading statistic).

Lionel Messi 25 games 25 goals 10 assist 3 trophies available
Cristiano Ronaldo 20 games 19 goals 8 assists 1 trophy available
Total Messi 5 games Messi 6 goals Messi 2 assists Messi 2 trophies

Euro 2016 – Will France Win It ?

The European Championship is coming this Summer and France is hosting it for third time since its introduction in 1960. It has won it twice in the past (1984 at home and 2000 in Belgium/The Netherlands). Both times, the squad was led with legends as Michel Platini in 1984 and Zinedine Zidane in 2000. Nowadays, a young French team led by a natural born leader and trophy laden player, Didier Deschamps, hopes to finally get back to winning ways after about a decade of difficulties coinciding with the retirement of Zidane in 2006 after the FIFA World Cup Final.

This time, it appears that that France is not only loaded with talent but are angry to put e past behind them and make the most out their oppportunity at home. That could potentially culminate in lifting the trophy for a record third time (along with Germany and Spain). Players such as Paul Pogba (Juventus FC), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid CF), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspurs), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), the return of former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra (Olympique Marseille), Blaise Matuidi (Paris-SG), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal FC), Patrice Evra (Juventus FC), Anthony Martial (Manchester United FC)  and a few others will constitute the backbone of a team that the French supporters hope will lead them to silverware on July 10th, when the final will kick-off.

Other countries will have their say in France…

Spain is the current title holder and after a disastrous World Cup compaign which saw them being humiliated by The Netherlands 5-1 and then eliminated by Chile 2-0, they would want to prove that this page of their history was simply an accident. Despite losing key players to retirement such as Xavi, David Villa, Xabi Alonso, Carlos Puyol.

Germany. The current FIFA World Cup holders will be looking at making the double in France (World Cup and Euro back-to-back). A few key players have left the national squad though such as Philip Lahm (Bayern Munich FC) and Miroslav Klose (SS Lazio). They can still bank on tremendous talent such as Marco Reus, Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich FC), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich FC), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich FC), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich FC), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), to name a few. Will it be enough for “Die Mannschaft”? We shall see.

Countries such as Italy, England, Portugal can never be underestimated in international competititons and squads as Czech Republic, Turkey and Croatia can always surprise. But if a country has to be taken very seriously this summer, it has to be Belgium. I would not be surprised if this is the national team that surprises France and wins their first European Championship. The squad is simply full with top talent in almost several positions of the field/pitch. Thibault Courtois (Chelsea FC), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City FC), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City FC),Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United FC), Dries Merterns (SSC Napoli), Axel Witsel (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Romelu Lukaku (Everton FC), Radja Nainggolan (AS Roma) etc. A very impressive list of fine players who just might be ready,in time, to lift a trophy and create history.

Stay tuned…