Records are a big part of football and they are even better if you can achieve them while playing for your country.
Just like German legend Miroslav Klose who holds the record for the most goals in all of World Cup history with 16 goals from 24 games, or French legend Just Fontaine who scored 13 goals in only one World Cup appearance to hold the record for the most goals at a World Cup.
And there’s Gabriel Batistuta, the only player to net hat-tricks in consecutive World Cups.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the best players in the world but their World Cup records are not as stellar as their overall careers. But whose records stand out among the two players considered the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) players in football history?
Here are the records of both players in their four World Cup appearances to date, so you can make your inferences.
World Cup head to head
Messi has 19 World Cup appearances while Ronaldo has 17, despite playing in four World Cups each (both had their World Cup debuts at the same time, in 2006).
The appearance numbers clearly show that Messi has won more than Ronaldo has, which tilts this record in the Argentine’s favour.
Messi’s win-draw-loss record stands at 13-2-4 while Ronaldo’s stands at 7-5-5. Both players have the opportunity to extend their records but Ronaldo will be looking forward to catching up when the 2022 FIFA World Cup comes round later this year.
Consecutive World Cup appearances
Both Messi and Ronaldo debuted in the same year and will both become the fifth and sixth players to have ever played in five consecutive World Cups.
The only players to have ever achieved this feat are ‘El Cinco Copas’ Antonio Carbajal of Mexico (1950-1966), German legend Lothar Matthäus (1982-1998), Gianluigi Buffon (1998-2014) and Mexican icon Rafa Márquez (2002-2018).
Messi and Ronaldo, however, will be the first to achieve it together.
Number of goals
Ronaldo has one more goal than Messi in the global showpiece, just like it has always been in both their storied careers.
In his 17 World Cup matches, the Manchester United forward has seven goals while Messi has six in his 19. But Ronaldo has scored in four straight World Cups as one of only three players to ever do so.
He is behind Brazilian icon Pele (1958-1970) who is also the only player to win three World Cup titles in history (1958, 1962 and 1970), German icon Uwe Seeler (1958-1970), and World Cup record goalscorer Miroslav Klose (2002-2014) on that list.
None, however, has managed to score in five and Ronaldo could be the first and only player to achieve that feat in football history if he scores for Portugal at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Messi, on the other hand, failed to get on the scoresheet in the 2010 edition, else he could have had this legendary record to his name.