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Cristiano v Messi: a runaway battle

The whole world is watching the Cristiano - Messi duel, as their frenzied chase, one after the other, makes the rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona more thrilling than ever. Neither player ever lets us down and now, on the eve of the next 'Clásico', Cristiano only goes and scores three against Getafe (the first pure Di Stefano-style) and a couple of hours later Messi replies with four. The Argentine scores more goals and his every increasing rhythm takes something away from Cristiano's extraordinary statistics. But, the Portuguese has scored more than a goal a game since he arrived in Madrid, something not Di Stefano, nor Puskas nor the legendary Pahiño managed.

Cristiano's advocates, his inner circle, maintain that he is the better of the two, but he has less support on the pitch. That he has to do it all himself, while Messi lives in a team of gods, a team that without him and with a couple of tweaks that made it better, but changed little substantially, won the European Championships and the World Cup. According to Cristiano's defenders, Messi without his team, without Xavi, Iniesta and the others, would be just an outstanding footballer, playing in Argentina, nothing more. It might even be true, but then neither is Cristiano scoring a goal a game in Portugal as he does in Madrid, with all the firepower the club provides to back him up.

For me, they are both giants. From Di Stéfano on I've seen them all, including Pelé and Maradona. None of them decided so many games or scored as many goals. In Pele's ledger there are a lot of goals from the regional tournament he played in back then, before the creation of a Brazilian league. Not that I would take anything away from Pelé, of course. But Messi and Cristiano are frantically scoring goals in the best footballing environment there has ever been. Messi scores more, it is true. He has a better team behind him, also true. But Cristiano is a giant who never ceases to challenge him. This is a mighty contest we are all enjoying.

Estadísticas AS.com