Ronaldo vs Messi at the World Cup: How their stats, goals, assists and performances compare

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: 30 Nov 2022 21:40 GMT
  • 4 min read
FT Desk Updated: 30 Nov 2022 21:40 GMT 4 min read
Messi and Ronaldo, Argentina and Portugal

The World Cup is the pinnacle for any footballer’s career and both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will want to win it in what will be their final chance.

Messi has already said 2022 will mark his final World Cup while judging by Ronaldo’s form, there’s little to suggest he will carry on until the next edition in four years, when he’ll be 41.

Both players have decent records at the World Cup and they are looking to extend that in their fifth tournament in Qatar this year.

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So, what are the records for both players like at football’s biggest tournament and how much can change when they take the field in Qatar?

Messi and Ronaldo: how do their rankings compare

Here is how their records compare in the four World Cups they have taken part in:

Cristiano RonaldoLionel Messi
Games Played1922
Minutes16441805
Goals88
Assists26

Messi equalled Ronaldo's tally of seven goals in World Cup history after scoring a penalty in the shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening game of Qatar 2022.

However, Ronaldo edged ahead again with a penalty of his own in the 3-2 win over Ghana, giving him the record of being the first player to score at five World Cups.

His lead didn't last long though, with Messi grabbing his eighth World Cup goal as well as an assist just days later as Argentina defeated Mexico.

Ronaldo thought he had netted in Portugal's 2-0 win over Uruguay in gameweek 2, however he was deemed not to have connected with Bruno Fernandes' goalward cross and the strike was instead awarded to his former Man Utd teammate.

Messi missed the chance to score himself in the 2-0 final group game win over Poland as he saw his penalty saved.

Leo has more World Cup assists than Ronaldo, with six goals created to Cristiano's two.

Both players have taken part in the World Cup in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018, with 2022 being their fifth – the joint-most in history.

Messi’s best World Cup finish came as a runner-up in 2014 when he scored four goals and provided one assist on the way to Argentina making the final before falling to Germany.

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Ronaldo’s best World Cup finish came in 2006, when Portugal finished fourth, with Ronaldo scoring once in that run before his side fell to France in the semi-final.

In 2006 and 2010, Messi’s Argentina lost in the quarter-final, before losing in the last 16 to eventual winners France in Russia in 2018.

In 2010, Ronaldo’s Portugal lost to eventual winners Spain, before a group stage exit in 2014 and another last 16 exit at the hands of Uruguay in 2018.

Both can extend their records this year: Messi’s Argentina will take on Mexico and Poland next in the group stages while Ronaldo’s Portugal will play Uruguay, Ghana and South Korea.