A common question you might have come across is “Find the reflection of this image?”
The first and most obvious similarity is how they have differentiated themselves from the rest of the pack when it comes to scoring goals (Edited this graph by John Burn-Murdoch). Ronaldo’s the type of player that just cannot be compared to any other player we have seen in past. As José coined it, he’s a tactical cheat code who can break any team with his ability to get into goal-scoring positions and finish them. If Ronaldo was the theorem for the proof, Messi is the aliter. Messi scores goals like Ronaldo, but is also one of the best play-makers at the same time. We just won’t get these unique players ever again.
But, we all know that. Messi and Ronaldo are one of a kind, I’m not saying something that you haven’t heard before.
What makes them special is the manner in which they stand out. They are the modern-day symbols of efficiency. Ronaldo is one of the most predictable players in the league, his movements are slight but very much a variation of the same thing over, over and over again. The idea is simple, stay on the left flank, wait for your marker to take his eye of you and then sprint into the space on his blind side and if you have any sort of service, there’s a good chance it will lead to a goal. If of course, it’s Kroos and Modric who are behind you, that’s three Champions League medals in a row.
Messi, while does show more complex movements, is efficient in a very different way, if you have observed Messi play, he never takes an unnecessary shot, he never makes an unnecessary pass. Everything is measured, everything is calculated. He’s a mastermind, very reminiscent of Zidane. Messi can run the least in the game but is the most effective every single time.
When we compare players who have come the closest to emulating these players in the past few seasons, we get a plethora of names — Hazard, Aguero, Lewandowski, Kane etc, etc.
However, in my opinion, the third place has been only been convincingly held by three players over the past few years. Bale, in 2012–13 and various other short spells like the 2016 Euros, Suarez from 2013/14 to 2015/16 and Neymar ever since then.
When we think Neymar, we think dribbling and his passing which has improved a lot in Paris, he is very similar to Messi, but his movements are so exaggerated. It’s such an energy expensive method of playing football, very often we can see Neymar disappear from a game if the opposing team can get a hold of him in the first 10–15 minutes.
The same goes for my favourite player, Gareth Bale, while he’s a brilliant all-around player, the only skill that makes him stand out his freakish speed. If he didn’t have that, he still would have been really good but not somebody who made 300,000 + euros a week.
While these guys are great, the point I’m trying to put forward is that when we compare them to Messi or Ronaldo, we can see the vast abyss between the two demigods and the rest. These two are on a different level and what makes them so similar is that they are as efficient as a Tesla robot.
No matter what narrative the media spins about these two hating each other and the Batman v Superman nonsense, I choose to believe that these are two good human beings, who are constantly pushing each other to keep improving. I choose to believe that these two are slightly different reflections of each other
Originally published at football101.quora.com.