By Nick Elliott
It’s the overarching debate that seems to govern world football; Messi or Ronaldo?
Both have redefined the standards upon which all other players are measured. In a way that’s quite sad. All those great players from the past with their near mythological statuses such as Pele, Maradona and Ronaldo (Brazil) seem to have had their legacies compromised.
They are rightly adored by millions across the globe. Ronaldo is currently the most popular person on Facebook with over 107 million people liking his page. Messi only has a mere 81 million.
They have both long surpassed their respective clubs in terms of popularity. The rivalry of these two supremely talented footballers transcends that of Real Madrid v Barcelona. And that’s where the problem lies.
Believe it or not, there are people out there that openly criticize Ronaldo and Messi’s footballing ability. In the age of social media this probably isn’t new information but it’s certainly worth analyzing.
We’re not talking about Barcelona fans criticizing Ronaldo or vice versa, that’s standard club loyalty which has the ability to blind even the most level-headed of fans.
Don’t get us wrong, the majority of comments out there are 140-character love letters but if you trawl through the YouTube comments of any half-popular football video chances are you’ll come across a heated Ronaldo v Messi debate that includes words we don’t feel comfortable repeating here. And this is Dream Team.
The problem is many perceive isolated praise of one as criticism of the other. If you express admiration for Messi’s dribbling without mentioning Ronaldo in the same conversation then you risk others believing your allegiance to the Barcelona forward is unwavering.
This phenomenon is fairly unique to this rivalry because they are undoubtedly the two best in the world. People’s innate desire to name the best, the standalone best, blinds them to the pair’s combined wonder.
This doesn’t apply to a lot of you; many are capable of appreciating both. The fear is that some will look back on this era as a time of rage-tweets and expletive-laden quarrels on obscure forums. We implore those of this persuasion to do your utmost to see Ronaldo and Messi for what they are; entertainers with superhuman talent that have mastered the world’s favorite sport with greater ease than any other human beings in existence.
If you’re a true football fan it would be the ultimate tragedy to deny yourself full enjoyment. Of course it’s okay to have a favorite, or to believe one is better than the other but just be aware of the difference between personal preference and corrupt bias.
Ronaldo certainly hasn’t exhibited any signs that his power are diminishing but he’s under three months away from turning 31. The recent film biopic on him, coupled with Messi’s injury, has given us a brief glimpse of life after them. No disrespect to Neymar and the others likely to take up the mantle of world’s best, but there’s definitely something missing.
So savour these glorious days, before they’re gone and all you have left to show for it is a timeline full of skewed, hateful opinions.