Messi vs Ronaldo All Time International Stats

All Time Internationals

Messi Stats All Time Internationals All Time Argentina

  • 71Goals
  • 42Assists
  • 142Apps
  • 165mins per goal
  • 103mins per goal contribution

Ronaldo Stats All Time Internationals All Time Portugal

  • 102Goals
  • 30Assists
  • 170Apps
  • 132mins per goal
  • 102mins per goal contribution

Competitive Internationals

Messi Stats Competitive Internationals All Time Argentina

  • 37Goals
  • 27Assists
  • 95Apps
  • 217mins per goal
  • 125mins per goal contribution

Ronaldo Stats Competitive Internationals All Time Portugal

  • 84Goals
  • 21Assists
  • 121Apps
  • 123mins per goal
  • 99mins per goal contribution

International Friendlies

Messi Stats International Friendlies All Time Argentina

  • 34Goals
  • 15Assists
  • 47Apps
  • 108mins per goal
  • 75mins per goal contribution

Ronaldo Stats International Friendlies All Time Portugal

  • 18Goals
  • 9Assists
  • 49Apps
  • 171mins per goal
  • 114mins per goal contribution

Copa America / Euros

Messi Stats Copa America / Euros All Time Argentina

  • 9Goals
  • 12Assists
  • 27Apps
  • 253mins per goal
  • 108mins per goal contribution

Ronaldo Stats Copa America / Euros All Time Portugal

  • 9Goals
  • 5Assists
  • 21Apps
  • 199mins per goal
  • 128mins per goal contribution

World Cup

Messi Stats World Cup All Time Argentina

  • 6Goals
  • 5Assists
  • 19Apps
  • 271mins per goal
  • 148mins per goal contribution

Ronaldo Stats World Cup All Time Portugal

  • 7Goals
  • 2Assists
  • 17Apps
  • 211mins per goal
  • 164mins per goal contribution

All Major Tournaments

Messi Stats All Major Tournaments All Time Argentina

  • 15Goals
  • 17Assists
  • 46Apps
  • 260mins per goal
  • 122mins per goal contribution

Ronaldo Stats All Major Tournaments All Time Portugal

  • 16Goals
  • 7Assists
  • 38Apps
  • 204mins per goal
  • 142mins per goal contribution

Messi and Ronaldo International Stats

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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both had impressive international careers for Argentina and Portugal respectively.

Messi is Argentina's all time top goalscorer with 71 goals in 142 caps, scoring 0.50 goals per game. He's also Argentina's all time top provider with 42 assists.

Likewise, Ronaldo is Portugal's all time leading goalscorer with an incredible 102 goals in 170 caps, scoring an average of 0.60 goals per game.

If we look at minutes played, Messi scores a goal every 164.7 minutes, whilst Ronaldo scores a goal every 131.9 minutes.

Factoring in assists, Messi directly contributes to a goal every 103.5 minutes for Argentina, with Ronaldo scoring or assisting every 101.9 minutes for Portugal.

Clearly, both players have contributed to their national teams significantly and prolifically, and have done so for over 15 years. This is univerally accepted as far as Cristiano is concerned; unfortunately though, there is a popular Messi myth often parroted by casual football fans.

Dispelling the Messi myth

We've all heard someone say it at some point...

"Messi has never done it at international level"

This narrative has materialised through Messi's unfortunate record of having lost 4 major international finals with Argentina. However, this is akin to reading the headline and not the full article.

Curiously, many people seem to struggle with the concept that reaching the final is better than not reaching the final, and Argentina have done this on four separate occasions during Messi's senior career. They have lost just one of these matches during normal time, losing once in extra-time and twice on penalties.

It's tragically unfortunate to finish as runners-up four times (particularly in the aforementioned circumstances), but it seems odd to suggest Messi is an international failure because his side regularly made the top 2, but not the top 1.

If Higuain had finished one of his glorious chances in these finals, then it's likely that Messi would be lauded as an international success, which is a neat summary of everything that is wrong with the way footballers are analysed. Of course, Messi can't be completely absolved of blame, having missed a big chance of his own in the 2014 World Cup final.

It's probable that some well-meaning individuals fall into the "Messi has never done it at international level" trap because his goal return of 0.50 goals per game is significantly lower than what he registers at Barcelona. However, the same is true for Ronaldo, with his 0.60 goals per game considerably lower than his club level averages. Not to mention that 0.5 goals per game is the yardstick typically used to measure elite strikers; yet another case of Messi being a victim of his own absurd standards.

Leo Messi also plays differently for Argentina than he does for Barcelona, adopting a deeper, more playmaker-centric role. This is borne out in the fact that Messi has provided a whopping 42 assists on top of his 71 goals. As a result, when you factor in assists, Messi and Ronaldo have very similar minutes per goal/assist records at international level (103.5 mins per G/A to 101.9 mins per G/A).

If you're still in any doubt, let's look at some of the records Messi has set at international level.

  • πŸ… Most goals scored in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers (shared with Suarez)
  • πŸ… Only player to score for Argentina against every CONMEBOL nation
  • πŸ… Most Man of the Match awards at a single World Cup - 4 in 2014
  • πŸ… World Cup Golden Ball and Copa America Golden Ball winner for player of the tournament
  • πŸ… Most goals scored in a calendar year for Argentina: 12 goals in 2012
  • πŸ… Most hat-tricks for Argentina: 6 hat-tricks

Messi also posted some exceptional stats in his stand-out 2014 World Cup:

  • 4 goals
  • 1 assist
  • 23 key passes (most in tournament)
  • 46 dribbles (most since 1986)
  • 4 MOTM awards (World Cup record)

The key difference between Maradona in 1986 and Messi in 2014, is that Burruchaga scored his one-on-one in the final, whereas Higuain didn't.

International Trophies

Of course, where Cristiano has the edge over Messi is that crucial major international trophy. Ronaldo has reached two major international finals with Portugal, both at the European Championships. His first, way back in 2004, saw his Portugal side stunned on home soil against pre-tournament outsiders Greece, who ran out 1-0 winners.

His second major final took place in Paris 12 years later, where this time the favoured team on home soil was the opposition: France. Unfortunately for Ronaldo, he suffered an injury after just eight minutes and eventually had to be substituted in the 25th minute. More fortunately though, after a tense goalless ninety minutes, Portugal's Eder struck the winning goal in extra-time from 25 yards. Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo were European champions for the first time.

In 2019, Portugal also won the very first edition of the UEFA Nations League, a brand new competition brought in to replace stale international friendlies. Ronaldo played no part in the four group stage matches, but when Portugal qualified for the semi-final stage, he came back with a bang, scoring a hat-trick to beat Switzerland 3-1 and put Portugal in the final. There they faced the Netherlands, with Gonçalo Guedes scoring the game's only goal.

Not a Euros or a World Cup, but a 2nd international trophy for Ronaldo in 4 years nonetheless.

Ronaldo's International Finals

  • ❌ Euro 2004 - 0-1 vs Greece
  • πŸ† Euro 2016 - 1-0 (AET) vs France
  • πŸ† UEFA Nations League 2019 - 1-0 vs Netherlands

Messi's International Finals

  • πŸ† U20 World Cup - 2-1 vs Nigeria
  • ❌ Copa America 2007 - 0-3 vs Brazil
  • πŸ† Beijing Olympics 2008 - 1-0 vs Nigeria
  • ❌ World Cup 2014 - 0-1 (AET) vs Germany
  • ❌ Copa America 2015 - 0-0 vs Chile (1-4 pens)
  • ❌ Copa America 2016 - 0-0 vs Chile (2-4 pens)

Looking beyond Leo Messi's four major final losses, he also competed in the 2008 Olympics, where an U23 Argentina side (plus three over age players) won every game en route to the Gold Medal. So no World Cup or Copa America for Messi, but Olympic Gold surely softens the blow somewhat.

In addition to this, Messi also won the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2005, scoring 6 goals (including 2 in the final) along the way.

Competitive vs Friendly International Goals

Ronaldo has scored a much greater proportion of his international goals in competitive games than Messi has, scoring 84 out of his total 102 goals in competitive internationals (82.35%). Messi has scored 37 goals out of 71 in competitive internationals (52.11%).

Messi International Goals & Assists

  • Competitive games: 37 goals, 27 assists, 95 caps
  • Friendly games: 34 goals, 15 assists, 47 caps

Ronaldo International Goals & Assists

  • Competitive games: 84 goals, 21 assists, 121 caps
  • Friendly games: 18 goals, 9 assists, 49 caps

Cristiano Ronaldo clearly has the superior goalscoring stats in competitive internationals, but we must consider the level of opposition.

Level of Opposition

One reason for the contrast in friendly/competitive goals between the two is the type of opponents they typically face. In Europe, World Cup and European Championship qualification is split into several groups, with each group featuring a couple of extremely lowly ranked teams, such as Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Latvia, Faroe Islands and many more.

In South America on the other hand, they don't have a qualification stage for the Copa America, and World Cup qualification features a single group in which you must play all of the continent's heavyweights. There are also no real easy contests in this group, with even the lowest ranked side Bolivia being an infamously tough team to play away due to the unusually high altitude level.

As a result of these contrasting situations, Ronaldo has played many more competitive fixtures against lower ranked sides than Messi has. The average official FIFA ranking of Ronaldo's opponents in competitive matches is 53, whereas the average ranking of Messi's opponents in competitive games is 34.

To illustrate this, Ronaldo's top 5 favourite opponents in terms of goals scored in competitive internationals are Lithuania, Sweden, Andorra, Armenia and Latvia, who between them have an average FIFA ranking of 101.2.

Messi's top 5 favourite opponents in terms of goals scored in competitive internationals are Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay and Panama, who between them have an average FIFA ranking of 43.2.

To clarify, this is absolutely no slight on Ronaldo; if Messi had the opportunity to play against such low ranked teams with the same regularity then his most frequent victims would be very similar. The takeaway here is that there is relevant context to the pair's competitive/friendly scoring levels that cannot be ignored.

International Tournament Goals & Assists

Ronaldo made his major tournament debut on home soil at Euro 2004, in which he scored 2 goals and made it all the way to the final before a shock defeat to Greece. Messi debuted at the 2006 World Cup, where he scored 13 minutes into his first appearance; further goals scored at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups granted Messi the unique record of being the only player to score at a World Cup in his teens, twenties and thirties.

Messi Major International Tournament Goals & Assists

TournamentGoals (Group/KO)Assists (Group/KO)Apps (Group/KO)Out inAwards
World Cup 20061 (1/0)1 (1/0)3 (2/1)Quarters (pens)
Copa America 20072 (0/2)1 (1/0)6 (3/3)FinalBest Young Player
World Cup 20100 (0/0)1 (0/1)5 (3/2)Quarters1 MOTM
Copa America 20110 (0/0)3 (2/1)4 (3/1)Quarters (pens)2 MOTM
World Cup 20144 (4/0)1 (0/1)7 (3/4)Final (aet)Golden Ball, 4 MOTM
Copa America 20151 (1/0)3 (0/3)6 (3/3)Final (pens)MVP, 4 MOTM
Copa America 20165 (3/2)4 (0/4)5 (2/3)Final (pens)3 MOTM
World Cup 20181 (1/0)2 (0/2)4 (3/1)Last 161 MOTM
Copa America 20191 (1/0)1 (0/1)6 (3/3)Semis1 MOTM
TOTALS15 (11/4)17 (4/13)46 (25/21)2 best player,

Interestingly, Messi has scored the majority of his goals in the group stages at international tournaments, but has made considerably more assists in the knockout rounds, with 13 of his 17 assists being provided in the knockout stages. This suggests that Messi perhaps plays deeper in the knockout rounds, preferring to attempt to dictate the attacking play via his playmaking abilities.

Ronaldo Major International Tournament Goals & Assists

TournamentGoals (Group/KO)Assists (Group/KO)Apps (Group/KO)Out inAwards
Euro 20042 (1/1)2 (1/1)6 (3/3)Final
World Cup 20061 (1/0)0 (0/0)6 (2/4)Semis
Euro 20081 (1/0)1 (1/0)3 (2/1)Quarters1 MOTM
World Cup 20101 (1/0)1 (1/0)4 (3/1)Last 163 MOTM
Euro 20123 (2/1)0 (0/0)5 (3/2)Semis (pens)2 MOTM
World Cup 20141 (1/0)1 (1/0)3 (3/0)Group Stage1 MOTM
Euro 20163 (2/1)2 (1/1)7 (3/4)Winners (aet)2 MOTM
World Cup 20184 (4/0)0 (0/0)4 (3/1)Last 162 MOTM
TOTALS16 (13/3)7 (5/2)38 (22/16)11 MOTM

Having played in four European Championships and reaching at least the semi-finals in 3 of them, Ronaldo has played the most games of all time in the tournament, with 21 appearances. He's also the only player to score at four different Euros, and is the all time leading scorer in the competition as well with 9 goals (along with Michel Platini).

In addition to the finals tournament, Ronaldo also leads the way in qualifying too, having scored a record 31 goals in European Championship qualifiers, as well as a record 30 goals in European World Cup qualifying matches (correct as of July 2020).

With each goal, Cristiano Ronaldo is edging ever closer to the ultimate international record: the all time leading international goalscorer. This is currently Iran's Ali Daei who sits on 109 goals, just 7 ahead of Ronaldo on 102 goals. It's surely only a matter of time until Ronaldo can officially say he has scored the most international goals in the history of football.

Check out more of Messi and Ronaldo's international records over on the Records page.

Follow us on Twitter at @mvsrapp for more Messi vs Ronaldo stats.

UpdatedΒ Mar 6, 10:07 PM UTC