What do all the goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi add up to?
It’s the latest installment of El Clasico this Saturday and with it comes another opportunity to drool over the achievements of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The star players of Real Madrid and Barcelona are seemingly breaking records on a weekly basis and the incredible number of stats, facts and figures emanating from La Liga can leave one more confused than Martin Atkinson.
Messi has scored 63 goals in all competitions this season, 41 of those has come in the league and 14 in the Champions League. The Argentine has 8 hat-tricks to his name (6 in La Liga) and has contributed 34 assists. Along the way he became Barcelona’s all-time top scorer, surpassing Cesar Rodriguez’s 232 goals for the Catalans. Ronaldo has 53 goals in all competitions, 8 in the Champions League and 41 in La Liga. The Portuguese has scored 7 hat-tricks – all of them in the league. He has 16 assists.
They sound impressive doesn’t they? But how do they stack up against the greats of the game and in the context of what has come before?
This season, the next highest scorer in La Liga is Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao – on 22 goals. In England, Robin van Persie, a shoe-in for the Player of the Season award, has notched 27. In Germany, Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez has 25 and in Italy Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan has 23.
No one has ever scored 41 La Liga goals in a season before, it’s a new record and they both have 5 games left to go. The previous record was 40 – set by Ronaldo last season.
If we look to the other leagues, in the Premier League era the most goals scored in a season is 34 – a record shared by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer. The record in Italy was set by Gino Rossetti, who scored 36 goals in 1928/29 for Torino. In Holland, the record is 43 goals, that was set in 1956/57 by Coen Dillen of PSV. In Germany, Gerd Muller holds the record with 40, set in 1971/72. Ronaldo and Messi are on course to break all these records.
The most hat-tricks scored in a La Liga season before this one was 6, which was achieved by Ronaldo last term. This year he has 7, breaking yet another record. Having played 33 games, that’s a hat-trick in less than every five games. Messi is just one three-goal haul behind him.
The record for the most goals scored in all competitions was set by Gerd Muller during the 1972-73 season for Bayern Munich when he netted 67 times. Messi is currently on 63, therefore needing five goals to surpass the record. With five league games and at least one more Champions League match, against Chelsea on Tuesday, chances are the 24-year-old will do it.
What if we compare Ronaldo and Messi’s records to the ‘greats’ of the game – how do they stack up?
Pele once scored 58 league goals playing for Santos in 1958. That won’t be beaten, at least not this season anyway. That year the Brazilian striker scored a total of 66 goals in all competitions. That might be broken. Diego Maradona, the player Messi is most often compared with when ranking his standing among the all-time greats, scored 43 league goals for Argentinos Juniors in 1980. Johan Cruyff managed 41 goals in all competitions in a single season in 1966/67 for Ajax. Eusebio scored 49 goals in all competitions in 1967/68. In his single season at Barcelona in 1996/97, the Brazilian two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo scored 47 goals in all competitions.
In putting the achievements of Ronaldo and Messi into context, what they are doing enters into the realm of fantasy. They have both scored 14 more league goals than any other player in a major league this season (or another way of putting it, one more than Emmanuel Adebayor’s league haul for the season). They have scored more than anyone else in the history of La Liga. They are on course to score more league goals than has ever been achieved in Europe. Among the giants of the game, they stand upon their shoulders.
Had we been witnessing one player reaching these figures we would be fortunate. That we have two is a miracle. Amazing players aren’t like buses, it’s not like they all come along at once. But right now, we have a pair of players taking the game to places it’s never been before. Roll on Saturday.Tagged in: Barcelona, cristiano ronaldo, football, la liga, Lionel Messi, real madrid
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