The Messi vs. Ronaldo debate has been around for over a decade now. Usually, soccer fans argue over which of these two superstars is better. However, you may be wondering which of the two is faster, Messi or Ronaldo?
Cristiano Ronaldo is faster than Lionel Messi. Ronaldo's highest ever measured top speed is 21.1 mph (34 km/h). Messi's highest measured speed is 20.1 mph (32.5 km/h). This means that Ronaldo is 0.9 mph (1.5 km/h) faster than Messi.
You now know that Ronaldo's top speed is higher than Messi's, but who is faster with the ball, and why is Ronaldo faster? You will find out in this article!
Although it's very close, all the data points to Cristiano Ronaldo being faster than Lionel Messi. There are one or two categories in which Messi has the edge, but overall there's no doubt Ronaldo is the faster of the two.
The easiest way to settle this debate is to look at the cold hard stats.
When looking at the collected data over both players' careers, the record states that Ronaldo has recorded a higher top speed than Messi.
In 2017, a year-long study was done to determine the top 10 fastest soccer players in the world.
Although he did not finish top, Ronaldo ranked two places higher than Messi as the 7th fastest player in the world at that time.
During the 2018 World Cup, FIFA recorded the highest speeds of all the participating players.
Ronaldo was the joint-top fastest player during that tournament alongside Croatia's Ante Rebic. Lionel Messi did not even feature in the top 10.
Below is the official FIFA World Cup list of the fastest players in 2018:
|1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)||21.1 mph (34km/h)|
|Ante Rebic (Croatia)||21.1 mph (34km/h)|
|3. Luis Advincula (Peru)||21 mph (33.8km/h)|
|4. Santiago Arias (Colombia)||20.87 mph (33.6km/h)|
|5. Kyle Walker (England)||20.81 mph (33.5km/h)|
|Jesse Lingard (England)||20.81 mph (33.5km/h)|
|7. Maciej Rybus (Poland)||20.6 mph (33.3km/h)|
|Marquinhos (Brazil)||20.6 mph (33.3km/h)|
|Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)||20.6 mph (33.3km/h)|
|Dani Carvajal (Spain)||20.6 mph (33.3km/h)|
|Hirving Lozano (Mexico)||20.6 mph (33.3km/h)|
|Heechan Hwang (South Korea)||20.6 mph (33.3km/h)|
Although it's been proven that Ronaldo has recorded a higher overall speed than Messi, does he actually accelerate quicker than the Argentinian?
The answer is probably no.
We don't need numbers and stats for this one. Messi is arguably the best player in the world when it comes to turning defenders.
Although there are no stats to prove it, simply watching Messi play shows his acceleration is better than Ronaldo.
Messi's low center of gravity means that he is able to get off to a quicker start than the taller Ronaldo. However, Ronaldo's longer strides mean he overtakes Messi in overall speed.
When watching Ronaldo sprint, it's clear that he gets faster as he moves up the gears. Cristiano Ronaldo, in full stride, is truly a sight to behold.
Messi, on the other hand, is fast in quick bursts. Messi is not known for his long sprinting strides across the field like Ronaldo is.
Therefore, it's safe to say that Ronaldo would likely beat Messi in a long-distance race.
During the 2017 study mentioned earlier, Ronaldo was recorded as the 7th fastest player in the world at the time. His fastest speed then was 20.8 mph (33.6 km/h).
When FIFA collected their stats at the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo would go on to top his own record. This means Ronaldo's top speed ever recorded is 21.1 mph (34 km/h).
During the same 2017 study, Messi's top speed was recorded as 20.1 mph (32.5 km/h). This is 0.9 mph (1.5 km/h) slower than Ronaldo's top speed.
As you can see, Ronaldo is undoubtedly faster than Messi. He has scored a higher top speed in two separate events than his rival.
It's not an entirely one-sided race, though. Messi isn't far behind Ronaldo when it comes to overall speed and is still one of the quicker players in soccer.
The few stats we do have also hints at Messi having better acceleration than Cristiano Ronaldo has.
(Click here to find out exactly how fast Messi is)
So now we know Ronaldo would likely beat Messi in a straight-up race. But is he faster than Messi with the ball at his feet?
The answer is yes.
Looking at the 2017 study once again, the group that collected those stats confirmed that the highest speeds recorded for both players were with the ball at their feet.
This means that Ronaldo is 0.6 mph (1.1 km/h) faster than Messi when dribbling with the ball.
Below are the top 10 fastest players with the ball, taken from a 2017 study:
|Player:||Top Speed (with ball):|
|1. Gareth Bale||22.92 mph (36.90 km/h)|
|2. Orlando Berrío||22.36 mph (36.00 km/h)|
|3. Jürgen Damm||21.89 mph (35.23 km/h)|
|4. Antonio Valencia||21.81 mph (35.10 km/h)|
|5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||21.49 mph (34.60 km/h)|
|6. Aaron Lennon||21.00 mph (33.80 km/h)|
|7. Cristiano Ronaldo||20.87 mph (33.60 km/h)|
|8. Theo Walcott||20.31 mph (32.70 km/h)|
|9. Lionel Messi||20.19 mph (32.50 km/h)|
|10. Wayne Rooney||19.38 mph (31.20 km/h)|
So Ronaldo is faster with and without the ball, but how much of an advantage does this really give the Portuguese megastar when he's out on the pitch?
Looking back over Ronaldo's career, it's clear his blistering pace gives him a huge advantage over most other players.
Many of his goals have been due to him sprinting the length of the pitch to get on the end of a cross. Or using his speed to dribble past onlooking defenders.
What about Messi, though?
It's definitely worth noting that many pundits see Messi as the better dribbler in general.
This is because Messi has better control over the ball and can easily take it past defenders regardless of speed.
There's no doubt that Ronaldo is faster than Messi, but is there a particular reason why?
There are a few reasons I can point to, and one is simply their body types.
Ronaldo is taller and slimmer than Messi. In fact, his body type somewhat resembles that of a professional runner.
Messi, on the other hand, is shorter and stockier than Ronaldo.
With a lower center of gravity, it's always going to be difficult for Messi to reach the speeds of a player like Ronaldo.
Another reason Ronaldo is so fast might be down to some of his training.
In 2009, Manchester United brought Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt to their training ground. The record-breaking runner was said to have given Ronaldo some one-on-one lessons.
Here's what Usain Bolt had to say about training with Ronaldo:
"I can give him a few tips to help him get the edge on a few of the guys, I can get him up to speed. I'll need to see how he runs first, and then I can show him a few pointers."
So with a natural runner's body and training from the fastest man on earth, it's really no surprise that Ronaldo is faster.
If anything, Messi should take pride in how close he actually is to Ronaldo's top speed.
All the evidence we have on hand is enough to prove that Cristiano Ronaldo is faster than Lionel Messi, both with and without the ball.
However, the two aren't a million miles apart.
This is partly down to Ronaldo's naturally athletic body type compared to Messi's stockier frame. The fact that he's also trained with Usain Bolt may also be a significant factor.
Many will argue that Messi is quicker on the turn and has faster acceleration than Ronaldo. The fact remains, though, that Ronaldo is the faster player overall.