Rio de Janeiro, Jun 12: One is the world’s best known footballer, the other the most valuable. They have scored the same number of Champions League goals and are loaded down with titles. But superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are stuck in a World Cup dead end.
Between them Messi and Ronaldo have monopolised the past six world player of the year awards. But each have attended the last two World Cups and failed to even get near the trophy. Messi has scored just one goal at the finals, Ronaldo only two.
Now though the weight of Argentinian hopes rests on Messi’s slight shoulders. Portugal are desperate for Ronaldo’s goals to get out of one of the most difficult groups in the contest.
The Brazil World Cup could finally decide whether the name of Messi or Ronaldo is etched into football legend alongside the Peles and Diego Maradonas and Zinedine Zidanes. It is the competition which transforms reputations.
The softly-spoken Messi is 26, just 1.69 metres (5ft 7inch) tall and 67 kilogrammes (148 pounds) in weight. But his goalscorer record and brilliance pack the same weight as the 29-year-old Ronaldo — 1.85m (6ft 1inch) and 80kgs (176 pounds) — who revels in his glamour lifestyle.
Messi capture three Champions League wins with Barcelona while Ronaldo responded by adding a crown for Real Madrid last month to his earlier success with Manchester United.
Both average more than 50 goals a year in all competitions for their clubs