Ronaldo is in the ascendency when it comes to penalties, but the gap between his penalty record and Messi’s isn’t as great as is often portrayed.
Excluding shootouts, Ronaldo’s overall penalty conversion rate is 84%, and Messi's overall penalty conversion rate is 79%.
Ronaldo has scored a staggering 129 penalties (with 25 misses) over his whole career, whereas Messi has scored 96 penalties (with 26 misses) - again excluding shootouts. It should be noted however that one of Messi’s “misses” was a deliberate assist for a Luis Suarez goal.
Ronaldo's stats are clearly superior, however he's not necessarily the ultimate ice-cool penalty king that the media often portray him to be. His penalty record is good, but it’s not as good as other elite strikers of the same generation such as Lewandowski and Ibrahimovic.
Big Penalty Misses
Both players have missed penalties in big games over their careers, sometimes costing their team and sometimes not.
Messi’s Big Penalty Misses
❌ 2012 Champions League Semi-final vs Chelsea (lost)
❌ 2016 Copa America Final vs Chile (penalty shootout) (lost)
Ronaldo’s Big Penalty Misses
❌ 2008 Champions League Semi-final vs Barcelona (won)
❌ 2008 Champions League Final vs Chelsea (penalty shootout) (won)
❌ 2012 Champions League Semi-final vs Bayern Munich (penalty shootout) (lost)
Penalty Shootout Records
Messi has a slight edge in terms of conversion rate in penalty shootouts, scoring in 4 out of 5 shootouts (80%), whereas Ronaldo has scored in 6 out of 8 penalty shootouts (75%). Ronaldo has also been on the pitch for a further 4 shootouts in which he didn’t get the chance to take one due to being scheduled as the 4th or 5th penalty taker.
Messi Penalty Shootout Record
✅ Copa America QF 2011 vs Uruguay - scored (lost 5-4) 1st taker
✅ World Cup SF 2014 vs Netherlands - scored (won 4-2) 1st taker
✅ Copa America QF 2015 vs Colombia - scored (won 5-4) 1st taker
✅ Copa America F 2015 vs Chile - scored (lost 4-1) 1st taker
❌ Copa America F 2016 vs Chile - missed (lost 4-2) 1st taker
Won 2 - Lost 3
Ronaldo Penalty Shootout Record
✅ Euro 2004 QF vs England - scored (won 6-5) 4th taker
✅ FA Cup Final 2005 vs Arsenal - scored (lost 5-4) 3rd taker
✅ World Cup QF 2006 vs England - scored (won 3-1) 5th taker
❌ Champions League Final 2008 vs Chelsea - missed (won 6-5) 3rd taker
✅ EFL Cup Final 2009 vs Spurs - scored (won 4-1) 3rd taker
❌ Champions League SF 2012 vs Bayern - missed (lost 3-1) 1st taker
✅ Champions League Final 2016 vs Atletico - scored (won 5-3) 5th taker
✅ Euro 2016 QF vs Poland - scored (won 5-3) 1st taker
FA Community Shield Final 2007 vs Chelsea - (won 3-0) scheduled 4th/5th taker
Euro 2012 SF vs Spain - (lost 4-2) scheduled 5th taker
Confederations Cup SF 2017 vs Chile - (lost 3-0) scheduled 5th taker
Coppa Italia Final 2020 vs Napoli - (lost 4-2) scheduled 5th taker
Won 7 - Lost 5
How much do they rely on penalties?
If we look at what proportion penalty goals make up of their overall goal tallies, it's Ronaldo who has a higher percentage of penalty goals to non-penalty goals.
Over his whole career, 17.22% of Ronaldo's goals have been penalties (129/749). In comparison, 13.48% of Messi's career goals have been penalties (96/712).
It's a similar story when it comes to the reliance on penalty goals when scoring hat-tricks. 29 of Ronaldo's 56 career hat-tricks (51.79%) have included a penalty goal, whereas 13 of Messi's 54 career hat-tricks (24.07%) have included a penalty goal.
Who takes more penalties?
In terms of penalty attempts, Ronaldo has taken 32 more in-game penalties than Messi, partly because he's played two more years than Messi, and partly because Messi periodically allows his team mates to take penalties.
The most penalties Messi has taken in a single club season is 17 in 2011/12, scoring 14 - which is also the most he has scored in a single club season.
The most penalties Ronaldo has taken in a club season is 16 in 2014/15, scoring 13. However, the most penalties Ronaldo has scored in a club season is 14 in 2011/12 (out of 15 penalty attempts).
What if we factor in International penalties?
International games don't go by seasons, but if you insist on factoring in internationals, then Messi's most penalties taken in a season is 18 in 2011/12 (14 out of 17 for Barcelona and 1 from 1 for Argentina). These 15 penalty goals for club and country in 2011/12 are also the most Messi has scored in a single season.
Ronaldo's highest number of penalty attempts for club and country in a season is 18, which was in 2019/20.
This is also the most penalty goals Ronaldo has scored in a single season for club and country, with 16 penalties scored.
It's also worth noting that Ronaldo missed one additional penalty in 2011/12 in a penalty shootout, which would make his overall record for that season 15 penalties scored from 18 attempts.
Most Penalties TAKEN in a Single Season
Messi: 11 (2011/12)
Ronaldo: 13 (2011/12, 2019/20)
All Club Competitions
Messi: 17 (2011/12)
Ronaldo: 16 (2014/15, 2019/20)
Club + Country
Messi: 18 (2011/12) (17 Barcelona + 1 Argentina)
Ronaldo: 19 (2019/20) (16 Juventus + 3 Portugal)
Most Penalties SCORED in a Single Season
Messi: 10 (2011/12)
Ronaldo: 12 (2011/12, 2019/20)
All Club Competitions
Messi: 14 (2011/12)
Ronaldo: 14 (2011/12, 2019/20)
Club + Country
Messi: 15 (2011/12) (14 Barcelona + 1 Argentina)
Ronaldo: 17 (2019/20) (14 Juvenuts + 3 Portugal)
More Penalty Stats
What do their goal tallies look like without penalties? To find out, check out our Goals Without Penalties section.
If you’re looking for any other penalty stats, hit us up on Twitter at @mvsrapp, and we’ll do our best to help.