Ronaldo or Messi? Who is more successful in Penalties?

Photo by Vienna Reyes on Unsplash

Both Argentina and Portugal have bowed out of the World cup 2018 in Russia after being beaten by France and Uruguay respectively.

All of these would have changed if for two penalties missed by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Argentina and Portugal would have gotten different opponents if those two had gone in, and maybe might have reached semis. All of these are just conjectures but one cannot undermine the importance of each penalty/free-kick and goal in a knock out tournament like the World Cup.

Each team had a player who could win the match alone for their respective teams on their day. So the severity of a penalty miss cannot be overseen. This severity caused chaos among the fans who are still arguing on who among the both is the GOAT-Greatest of All Time.

It is illogical to compare two players in a team game like football, but there are individual moments that define the game and penalties and free-kicks are such moments that showcase the brilliance of a player. I believe it is ok to compare players based on their success in penalties and/or free-kicks.

Let us have a look at a comparison of penalties taken by these two football legends.

This is the map that shows all of the penalty targets aimed by Lionel Messi.

Heat Map of Penalties for Lionel Messi- Blue indicates shot and Red indicates saves

i) that his target areas are both towards the right and left sides of the goalkeeper ii) shots are scattered but dominantly he aims for the left side of the goalkeeper.

It’s clear that he often tries different approaches instead of going to his natural good side, making his moves unpredictable to the goalie but, he hits them more towards areas within goalkeeper’s reach, and rarely goes for side netting which helps the goalkeepers.

Heat Map of Penalties for Lionel Messi- Blue indicates shot and Red indicates saves

Now let’s have a look at the penalty map of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s penalty map

Heat map of Ronaldo

And finally,

Psychological pressure — Every football fan knows how tremendous the pressure is while taking the penalty kicks.

Football is more of a mind game than just kicking the ball

Millions of fans worldwide watching you and you carry their hopes of scoring the goals on your shoulders. Trying hard, giving your best to meet their expectations and it gets becomes more nail-biting and thrilling when it comes to converting that penalty into a decisive and determining factor of the match.

On a personal level,

My opinion is that Ronaldo is better at handling such pressure situations. I’ve often seen him taking deep breaths before the free-kick and penalties which reflects his mentality.

Calm and Composed.

Honestly, I do agree that penalty kicks are Messi’s weakness and he needs to polish this aspect of his game, whereas he has great results through free-kicks as the pressure is less and it is more suited to his style of targeting.

This in no way shows that one player is better than the other, just a comparison on one aspect of a game which could be very crucial for teams of great stature. There have been many comparisons of these two legends, but what remains is that they have, over the years given fans great moments to cherish.

Let’s enjoy the games of these legends when we have the chance and not regret watching it later.



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