Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

For a long time, comparing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has been a hot topic among modern football fans. Both athletes have engraved their names in the hall of fame with their outstanding careers. Nevertheless, both fans and critics appear unable to quit evaluating their league and international accomplishments.

The long-awaited FIFA World Cup 2022 is finally knocking at the door. This has brought up the subject in the mainstream once more. Let us examine who performed better in FIFA’s international quadrennial competition.

Participation Count in the World Cup:

Ronaldo is serving as the forward and captain of Portugal. His rival Messi is also the captain and forward of Argentina’s national team. Both players made their World Cup debuts in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. They haven’t missed a round in the competition since then. As a result, the upcoming World Cup will be their 5th appearance in the event.

Number of Matches Played:

Messi has played in four World Cups since his debut. He played a total of 19 matches there. He appeared in 17 out of the 19 matches as a full-time player. Messi participated in 3 matches and reached the quarterfinals in his debut World Cup. Following the tournament, Argentina reached the quarterfinals again. That year Messi appeared in all 5 matches. In 2014, Messi again participated in all 7 matches till the finals. Most recently, he appeared in 4 matches until Argentina’s exit in the knockout stage.

Ronaldo participated in 17 matches of his 4 World Cup events. In 2016, he played six games as Portugal reached the semifinals. In the Following tournament, he participated in 4 matches. Unfortunately, Portugal got kicked out in the knockout stage. Ronaldo only got to play 3 group stage matches in the Brazil World Cup 2014. Everyone had concerns about his fitness and performance that year. In Russia World Cup, he played 4 matches before exiting from the knockout stage.

Goals and Assists in World Cups:

Messi scored six goals in four World Cups. His rival, Ronaldo, scored 7 goals in the same events. On the international stage, Ronaldo is considered the more aggressive one. At the same time, Messi is famous for his playmaking and leading ability. As a result, in assist count, Messi is superior among the two. He made 5 assists in 19 matches. Ronaldo made 2 assists so far, one in 2010 and another in 2014. Messi ranks second in World Cup assist count.

Also, on another note, Ronaldo currently leads the most international football goal scorers list. With 117 goals from 189 matches, he is sitting in 1st position. His rival, Messi, is in 4th position with 86 goals from 162 matches.

Player Match Count Goals Assists Total Contribution
Lionel Messi 19 6 5 11
Cristiano Ronaldo 17 7 2 9


In World Cup performance, Messi excels over Ronaldo by a marginal degree. But both players have their strong points and shortcomings. Due to his excellent captaincy skills, Messi makes the most out of his team. On the other hand, fans often criticized the Portugal team for being too reliant on Ronaldo. Even after having a good collection of players, they can’t seem to show their full potential on FIFA’s stage.

But this is just a theoretical conclusion. In the upcoming tournament, their field performance will tell who will be superior among the two, as this will be their final chance to win the World Cup. Let us know in the comments below who you think is better and why.

Golam Muktadir is a passionate sports fan and a dedicated movie buff. He has been writing about both topics for over a decade and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with his readers. Muktadir has a degree in journalism and has written for several well-known publications, including Surprise Sports.