First there's Cristiano Ronaldo— the bad boy of football who frets, doesn't celebrate when he's 'sad', allegedly asks for £400,000 a week and then scores the equaliser against Barcelona after almost dislocating his shoulder attempting an overhead kick.
Then there's Lionel Messi— supreme attacking talent, down-to-earth most of the time, asks for yellow cards for fellow professionals and then scores a freekick which David Beckham would be proud of.
With the Ballon d'Or 2013 nearing with every gameweek, these two are it again... going neck and neck to be crowned the world's best player. And if the recent El Clasico was going to be a judge, then they delivered performances which will create a massive entanglement in voters' heads.
But who would you choose? Is there even a choice? Even if you manage to clear your mind of anything they do off the pitch, and rid yourself of any Real-Barca alignments in your heart, last night's match just proves that picking one over the other is currently the toughest decision in world football.
When Ronaldo hammered a left-footer to open the scoring in the 23rd minute, Messi was there to expertly tap-in a mere seven minutes later. And when Messi scored an inch perfect freekick to give Barca the lead, Ronaldo executed an impeccable finish to tie things five minutes later.
As a Goal.com article observes, both players scored on 07/10 (7th October) and wear the same shirt numbers.
Keep aside the eerie facts football throws at you and cut back to Jose Mourinho saying he would be happy to have a 'sad' Ronaldo if he continues scoring. And after his cry-baby antics post a brace against Granada, the Portuguese has scored 11 goals in eight matches which includes two hat-tricks within a week, plus a goal for his country. Imagine if he was happier.
While Messi doubters were at their loudest when he went three matches without scoring, he silenced them with two goals on Sunday night to take his season tally to 12 goals.
Even record-wise, there is little to choose between them. While Ronaldo became the first man to score six in a row at the Camp Nou, Messi is now just one goal away from equalling Alfredo di Stefano's record as the all-time top scorer in El Clasicos.
It's stunning to see these two play, jinxing past opponents and forcing defenders to resort to hacking in a bid to stop them.
While the obvious argument remains whether Messi can do it for Argentina or any other club, Ronaldo enjoys the privilege of having already provem himself in the English Premier League. He also scores regularly for Portugal, a team whose midfield is far behind the talent of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Plus, the six-footer can head, use both feet, and say things like, "I am the world's first, second and third best player", and still get away with it.
But Messi is Messi. Diego Maradona has publicly called him his 'successor' and is virtually unstoppable against any opposition. He has a likability surrounding him and a penchant for doing the unthinkable.
Looks like the neutral is witnessing two of the greatest players to ever live while those blinded by a love for either are caught in the impossible dilemma of choosing between the two.
First Published On : Oct 9, 2012 14:50 IST