Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Atletico Madrid ensured Real Madrid have one foot in the Champions League final. In doing so, he has once again brought the debate over who is the best player in the world back to the surface.
The Portuguese forward netted his 42nd treble for Los Blancos as they beat their fierce city rivals 3-0 in the Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu.
But only a week ago, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi drew the plaudits of the footballing world when his double downed Madrid in La Liga’s El Clasico but Ronaldo’s latest triumph may have changed the tide once more.
And when you look at the numbers, it is easy to see why it continues to set tongues wagging.
Ronaldo’s treble extends his lead over Messi in club goals to 20 with 522 so far in his astonishing career.
He also holds the edge when it comes to career hat-tricks, free-kicks, European goals and strikes from outside of the box.
What is important to remember is that the 32-year-old has played 145 more games than his long-time rival in all competitions.
And that’s what makes Messi’s trophy haul all the more impressive, with 22 already to his name, compared to Ronaldo’s 17.
However, Ronaldo, who has one less Ballon d’Or victory under is belt, has one thing Messi does not – a piece of silverware on the international stage.
Portugal’s European Championship victory in France last summer was a landmark moment for the country and their captain and is the difference maker for some when it comes to this argument.
Nonetheless, after a decade of footballing dominance the pair have so many feathers in their respective caps that choosing between them is nigh on impossible