FIFA World Cup 2018: Lionel Messi lags behind Diego Maradona, Pele in marquee event
Lionel Messi lags behind his Argentina compatriot Diego Maradona when it comes to goals and assists in World Cups as Argentina look to snap a 22-year jinx in the FIFA World Cup 2018 event in Moscow.Updated: Jun 09, 2018 09:23 IST
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo come into the World Cup on the back of potent campaigns with their club sides.
Messi ended the season with 45 goals in all competitions for Barcelona, more than any other player in Europe’s big five leagues, with Ronaldo just one behind on 44, level with Mohamed Salah.
The two players also both nabbed major trophies, courtesy of Ronaldo’s Champions League success over Liverpool and Messi’s LaLiga win. However, despite their undoubted places in the pantheon of all-time greats, neither Messi or Ronaldo has yet managed to lead their sides to World Cup glory.
Here, we review their records on the biggest stage and compare them to other past greats of the competition…
Messi behind El Diego
The weight of World Cup failure weighs less on the shoulders of Ronaldo, courtesy of Portugal’s Euro 2016 success.
Alas, for Messi, the failure to secure either a World Cup or Copa America title with Argentina remains the one significant blot on his copybook, particularly when it comes to the never-ending comparisons to 1986 World Cup-winner Diego Maradona.
Overall in World Cups, Maradona leads the way over his compatriot with eight goals and eight assists in his 21 games, compared to five goals and three assists for Messi so far from his 15 outings.
Maradona shades his countryman in terms of minutes per goals scored (242.5 to 252.8) while his assist rate (also 242.5) betters Messi’s 421.3 figure by some way.
Messi’s creativity does shine through in terms of overall goal-scoring chances created for team-mates, with his haul of 44 in 15 games averaging out at one every 28.7 minutes, a similar rate to Maradona’s one chance every 29.0 minutes.
One area where Messi has outdone his predecessor more clearly is with his incisive dribbling, with the Barcelona man averaging a successful dribble every 14.5 minutes and beating his man with 62.6 per cent of those mazy runs, compared to Maradona, who averaged a completed dribble every 18.5 minutes, with a 55.9 per cent success rate, albeit on pitches far less pristine than those Messi dances over.
Portugal star Ronaldo has struggled to replicate his club form at the World Cup, netting just three times in 13 games, at a rate of a goal every 371.3 minutes on average, a figure inferior to Messi’s.
Ronaldo’s low goal-haul is certainly not due to a lack of effort, with the 33-year-old attacker mustering 70 shots at a rate of one every 15.9 minutes, 16 more than Messi’s tally of 54 at a rate of one every 23.4 minutes.
Only 4.3 per cent of Ronaldo’s efforts have ended up in the back of the net, compared to Messi’s conversion rate of 9.3 per cent. However, both those figures fall some way short of Maradona’s 13.6 per cent conversion rate.
With just two assists and 18 chances created across three World Cups, Ronaldo also falls way short of Messi, who has laid on three assists and 44 chances for team-mates.
Pele and Cryuff?
Another two footballing icons with differing World Cup fortunes are Pele and Johan Cruyff, with the former lifting the trophy on three separate occasions (1958, 1962 and 1970) and the latter suffering a painful final defeat at the hands of West Germany in his one tournament in 1974.
In terms of goals, Pele’s haul of 12 in his four editions ranks him fifth on the list of all-time scorers, behind Miroslav Klose (16), Ronaldo (15), Gerd Muller (14) and Just Fontaine (13). Cruyff netted three goals in his seven games in 1974, at a rate of one every 210 minutes, a figure inferior to Pele’s superb 105 minutes-per-goal rate but one significantly better than Messi (252.8), Ronaldo (371.3) or indeed Maradona (242.5).