Throwback Thursday: When Lionel Messi And Cristiano Ronaldo Lit Up The Champions League in 2013

In a low scoring game like soccer, you’ll often hear a commentator provide context for a striker’s goalscoring record by saying, “A goal every two games is a respectable ratio.”

Truthfully, it is.

Nil-nil games are not only common, but they happen enough to a point where the result turns off a potential audience. So if one goal in every two games is considered quality goal-scoring, then what is 186 in 165? 168 in 154?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo haven’t been redefined soccer statistics so much as they’ve launched themselves into their own stratosphere, completely displaced from the rest of the footballing world. One in two is still good. Twenty goals in a full season is a benchmark. But what about Fifty? Or Sixty?

Leave those numbers for Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro and Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini.

“I can’t remember having seen Lionel Messi play badly. I prefer Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo but I acknowledge that the latter is an animal. Football history will remember Messi. Football has given him a lot, as much as he has given the sport and to win a World Cup, in my opinion, wouldn’t bring himself anything else.” — Diego Maradona via Tribuna.com

The two giants of the game, figuratively speaking that is, have battled on and off the pitch for the world’s best player for years. Messi vs. Ronaldo, who is the greatest? Fans have wagered on sites like BetEasy wondering who would score more goals, win more awards and earn more trophies for their respective clubs and countries. With the gap still as narrow as ever, it’s fun to look back and remember the past glory of both legends.

In his 2013-14 Champions League debut, Ronaldo scored a hat trick in Madrid’s 6-1 trouncing of the Turkey champions Galatasaray.

Messi, not to be outdone, matched Cristiano with a three-piece of his own the next day for Barcelona vs. Ajax. The opening free kick? Majestic.

Who’s treble was better? Does Ronaldo’s solo clincher trump the class of Messi’s finishes? There is no right answer. These two men have been on a different planet for over a decade as they continually render the most team-oriented game of all-time into an individual competition of, “can you top this?”

“I watch him [Cristiano] train every day and the way he works is exciting. He wants to improve every day. That’s the difference with Messi. Leo is a phenomenon, we never talk about Neymar… but that side of Cristiano, of training, professionalism, focus, motivation, success… Cristiano has an advantage over all the others.” — Roberto Carlos, via Tribuna.com

Another Champions League title, La Liga trophy or Scudetto would further cement their statuses as legends of the game and vault them ever closer to the Mt. Olympus of football where Pele and Maradona wait eagerly. Be it in Barcelona or Juventus, Argentina or Portugal, they’re already both there, they are the GOATs of this generation.

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