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The ongoing debate about who is the best man – Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi – sets the tone and marks the high sporting and commercial quality of this year’s semi-finals in the UEFA Champions League

In alignment with the events of Spanish football’s La Liga, the UEFA Champions League has FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo in leading roles.

Last night, Ronaldo scored his 76th goal in the Champions League tournament when his team Real Madrid faced Juventus in the first leg of semi-finals. He now moved ahead of Messi, who has scored 75 Champions League goals. However, current focus is on how Messi will respond to that when FC Barcelona takes up the challenge of FC Bayern Munich tonight.

One interesting point in this ongoing debate is the assessment of each player’s performances across different teams. From my point of view, both players are fantastic and they are have by far been the two best players in the world the past couple of years. However, Messi is (and has been) a product of FC Barcelona from a very young age for what reason it is hard to evaluate his performance potential in a different football culture, e.g. the English Premier League. My intend is not to demean Messi’s performances in FC Barcelona; they speak for themselves and definitely speak a very confident and persuasive language. Instead, I find it relevant and interesting to touch upon the fact that there is a very close-knit and effective fit between FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi. The Argentinian’s playing style has been an excellent addition to FC Barcelona’s famous and successful tiki-take style and synergetic with other key culture bearers of the club’s most successful period, i.e. Iniesta and Xavi. Aesthetically, I am a Messi fan but from an objective football angle Ronaldo seems to be more effective.

Ronaldo has enjoyed (and played a big part of the) success in his time with different clubs in different leagues, i.e. Manchester United and Real Madrid. He has been a goal machine capable of winning titles in England, in Spain and in international competitions (UEFA Champions League) with both Manchester United and Real Madrid. At the same time, he has scored many goals for the national team as well. So has Messi in performances for Argentina but I doubt that he would have had the same success in England as Ronaldo had in Manchester United? Ronaldo has the numbers and the history to prove that he was more than just a show case in the Premier League. He scored a lot of goals, won domestic and international titles, won Ballon d’Or and had a business effect on Manchester United’s commercialization and profitability (also when looking at the club selling him to Real Madrid) at the time. Ronaldo also set a record for most goals in a single Champions League season at his time in Madrid so my bet would be to aim for Ronaldo if other top clubs were to sign one of the two mega-stars. He is simply more adaptable to different leagues and playing styles. On top of that, he has a great business potential and has understood that football, business and entertainment go hand in hand. Football is part of the entertainment business and Messi’s footballing qualities are great and I admire that he has a solid focus on football and family – these are sound values but Ronaldo is a better match for top football’s combination of football and business.

See the infographic below for more information on the two semi-finals (source Guarantee Tickets):

UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals  2014/15

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