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For Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the World Cup is a final shot at glory


They broke all the records but can they win the World Cup?

November 18, 2022

Top image: Nazario Graziano / agencyrush.com

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have defined each other’s careers, legacies and the world of football for over a decade.

They have managed to meet each other, scaling previously unmapped heights, yet they embody different philosophies.

There’s Messi — shorter, more introverted, a natural football genius who shares his creativity with the team, assisting almost as many goals as he does. And then there’s Ronaldo — tall, a physical specimen who bulldozed his way through defense, grafting and training until he was better than anyone else on the field.

But for all their accolades, none have won the World Cup. The Qatar 2022 competition could be the last chance to determine whether one of them can finally win the biggest trophy of all.

See how star players match up, going back to their professional debuts.

cristiano ronaldo

Lionel Messi

August 2002

Ronaldo made his professional debut 17 years old, Playing for Portuguese team Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo is in his first season playing for Sporting CP. Julio Azevedo/Icon Sport/Getty Images

August 2003

This is the first time Portugal has won the cap 18, Coming on as a substitute against Kazakhstan.

Ronaldo fights for the ball against Kazakhstan in a friendly match in 2003. Antonio Simos/EPA/Shutterstock

October 2004

A 17 years old, Messi did it first 778 games for Barcelona. At the time, he was the youngest to represent the club in an official game.

Lionel Messi controls the ball during a personal photo session for El Grafico magazine on October 12, 2003 in Rosario, Argentina. Marcelo Boeri/El Grafico/Getty Images

August 2005

Abhishek of Argentina, a 18 years old, As a substitute in a friendly against Hungary, but was sent off after just two minutes.

Messi is relieved by his teammates after receiving a red card against Hungary. Attila Kisbenede/AFP/Getty Images

June 2006

The first of seven goals at the Nets World Cup, four across the tournament, became— At the age of 21 – the youngest Portuguese player To score in the World Cup.

Ronaldo blocked a challenge during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Clive Mason/Getty Images

becomes Youngest player Representing Argentina in the World Cup and scoring in it 13 minutes, Became the sixth-youngest goalscorer in the history of the tournament.

Messi celebrates scoring a goal during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Lawrence Griffiths/Getty Images

April 2007

He beat multiple Getafe defenders to score arguably his greatest goal. One of the 672 strikes For Barca.

Messi celebrates after scoring against Getafe. Louise Jean/AFP/Getty Images

May 2009

Ronaldo inspired Barcelona to beat Manchester United in the Champions League final, his Second of four titles. He finished as the tournament’s top scorer.

Messi celebrates after winning the UEFA Champions League in 2009. Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

July 2009

Joined Real Madrid from Manchester United for the then world record $130 million fee

Ronaldo was presented to a full house at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Dennis Doyle/Getty Images

November 2009

After inspiring Barca to a historic treble in one season, 22 years old The first Argentine to win the Ballon d’Or.

Messi won his Ballon d’Or award in 2009. Dennis Doyle/Getty Images

December 2009

Won the inaugural Puskas Award for his electrification 40-yard field goal — Ball traveled at average speed 64 miles per hour — For Manchester United against Porto.

Ronaldo won the FIFA Puskas Award for the most outstanding goal of the 2008/09 season. Michael Regan/FIFA/Getty Images

July 2010

Argentina was knocked out 2010 World Cup to Germany in the quarter-finals. Messi is named in the best team of the tournament, but suffers from accusations of caring more for club than country.

After crashing out of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, Messi walked off the pitch in frustration. Paul Gillham/FIFA/Getty Images

April 2011

Time magazine named Messi One of the most influential people in the world For the first of two consecutive years.

time magazine

March 2012

A 24, He broke Barcelona’s scoring record and set a record 91 goals in the same calendar year.

Messi gives the thumbs up during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Granada. David Ramos/Getty Images

April 2014

Time magazine named Ronaldo among them 100 Most Influential People of the year

Ronaldo lifts the Champions League trophy after the UEFA Champions League final against Atletico Madrid. Lawrence Griffiths/Getty Images

July 2014

Argentina lost to Germany in the World Cup final. Messi won a tournament record four Man of the Match awards in a single World Cup and received the Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament. Seven goals.

Messi is disappointed after losing the World Cup final in 2014. Lawrence Lindhout/Socrates/Getty Images

November 2014

Messi became La Liga Highest scorer of all time After a hat-trick against Sevilla, Telmo broke Zarah’s record of 251 goals.

Messi was thrown in the air by his teammates to celebrate his new record. Louise Jean/AFP/Getty Images

CR7 Galaxy named after the soccer star, at the end of a season in which he enjoyed the biggest campaign of his club career, scoring 61 times in 54 games.

An artist’s impression of CR7, a very distant galaxy discovered using ESO’s Very Large Telescope. M. Kornmesser/ESO

October 2015

He became Real’s all-time top scorer 324 goals. He ended his career at Madrid 450 goals in just 438 matches.

Ronaldo scored his team’s second goal in a La Liga match against Levante in 2015. Victor Carretero/Real Madrid/Getty Images

June 2016

A goal in the quarter-finals of the Copa America Centenario established him Argentina’s all-time top scorer. After La Albiceleste’s defeat in the final, he announced his international retirement, a decision he reversed shortly after a request from Argentina’s president.

Messi is waiting for the second place medal after the Copa America final. Nicholas Kam/AFP/Getty Images

July 2016

Won first major international trophy at European Championships in France, but was reduced to tears after injury 25 minutes of the final.

Ronaldo shows the Henri Delaunay trophy to supporters during a victory ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal. Carlos Rodriguez/Getty Images

Initially sentenced 21 months Imprisoned for tax fraud, but escaped with $2.3 million Instead, Messi – along with his father Jorge Messi – was found guilty of cheating Spain $4.6 million Between 2007 and 2009.

Messi (L) and his father Jorge Horacio Messi listen as they face the judge. Alberto Estevez/AFP/Getty Images

April 2017

Became the first player to score a hat-trick against Bayern Munich 100 Champions League goals.

Ronaldo celebrates scoring his team’s third goal against Bayern Munich. Chris Brunskill Limited/Getty Images

March 2018

his score 100th Champions League Goal, Reached the milestone in fewer games than Ronaldo. Only he and Ronaldo have scored at least 100 goals in the competition so far.

Messi celebrates while scoring against Chelsea in 2018. David Ramos/Getty Images

May 2018

first player To win the Champions League five times. He won his first with Manchester United in 2008 before winning the competition with Real Madrid in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Ronaldo celebrates his fifth Champions League trophy. VI Images/Getty Images

June 2018

In Russia 2018, it happens first man to score eight Consecutive major international tournaments.

Ronaldo smiles during the 2018 World Cup match against Morocco. Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

July 2018

at the age of 33Ronaldo has signed for Italian side Juventus, according to a report $117 million Transfer Agreement.

Ronaldo moved to La Vecchia Signora after a very successful spell with Real Madrid. Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

October 2018

Alleged rape by Catherine Mayorga, who claims she was paid $375,000 to sign an NDA; The case was later dismissed. He denied the allegations.

Ronaldo is seen at the Palms Place Hotel and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 14, 2009. Charlie Galle/FilmMagic

July 2019

Messi left 37th minute Third place in the Copa America playoffs. He refused to accept his third-place medal and received a three-month ban from international football. $50,000 penalty

Messi argued with referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after showing the red card. Alexander Snyder/Getty Images

July 2021

Messi’s photo of the Copa America — his first international trophy — was done most preferred Sports photos in Instagram history at that time.

August 2021

Returned to Manchester United and finished the first season The club’s top scorer. In November 2022, ties with the team broke down after an explosive interview.

Ronaldo poses with then Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after signing his contract. Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images

mark on a two years The deal for French side Paris Saint-Germain ended its long-term relationship with Barca as the Catalan club suffered financially.

PSG’s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi poses next to Messi after joining the Argentinian club. Stephen de Sacutins/AFP/Getty Images

September 2021

Broke the international scoring record with two goals against Ireland, taking his tally 117 goals in 191 international matches and cemented his status as an all-time great.

Ronaldo’s reaction during the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Republic of Ireland. Carlos Costa/AFP/Getty Images

February 2022

First person to arrive 400 million Instagram followers.

Cristiano Ronaldo/Instagram

September 2022

winning record 164th Argentina caps and scores 90th international goal, Taking him to third place on the all-time men’s international scoring chart.

Messi celebrates his goal in an international friendly match against Jamaica in 2022. Andres Kudaki/AFP/Getty Images

November 2022

The goal of winning a First World Cup after four failed attempts. If he scores, he will become the first man to score in five World Cups. He needs three more goals to overtake Eusebio to become Portugal’s all-time top scorer in the competition.

Ronaldo celebrates beating North Macedonia in 2022. Pedro Fuja/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

The goal of winning a First World Cup after four failed attempts. If he takes the field in Qatar, he will enter elite company as only three players have featured in five World Cups before.

Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a game against Bolivia in 2021 Juan I. Roncoroni/Getty Images

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