Sunday, June 16News That Matters

Gary Lineker provides answer to finally end Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate

Gary Lineker believes Lionel Messi has settled the debate on who the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ (GOAT) after his starring display in Argentina’s World Cup semi-final win over Croatia.

Messi opened the scoring in the three-goal win by netting from the penalty spot to become Argentina’s record World Cup scorer. That was one of four records set by Messi during a talismanic performance for his country, whom he will lead in Sunday’s World Cup final.

He led Argentina to the Copa America title last year and winning the World Cup would complete his set of medals as he attempted to cement his status as the best player of all time. This year is likely to be his last edition of the tournament – as he will be aged 39 for the 2026 World Cup.

There has been a long-running rivalry between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who is two years his elder and has struggled for form this campaign. Ronaldo ended his relationship with Manchester United by mutual consent last month, after his interview with Piers Morgan.

The two superstars rose to stardom in the opening seasons of their career, but their rivalry went into overdrive when they spearheaded Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. The duo are two of the greatest players ever to step onto a pitch, and they led two of football’s greatest sides.

Lineker tweeted during the match: “Is there still a debate (about who the best ever player is)? Asking for a goat.”

Former Chelsea and England skipper John Terry concurred with Lineker’s view, explaining on beIN Sports after the game: “If there’s any debate about who the greatest ever is, if he goes on to win this World Cup, I think that settles it between him and Ronaldo.”

The two players shared a remarkable rivalry across more than a decade. They won 12 of 13 successive Ballon d’Or titles between them, with Messi edging out Ronaldo with seven individual honours compared to the Portuguese star’s five gongs (Luka Modric, in 2018, was the only player to break the sequence).

Ronaldo leads Messi on Champions League titles won with his five crowns eclipsing Messi’s four in Europe’s club competition. Messi has won more league titles but Ronaldo – who is two years his elder – has scored more goals at club and international level.


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