Messi overtakes Cristiano as best penalty taker
They couldn't go head to head for the first time in two years because of the coronavirus, but the rivalry between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is a space-time continuum. Their perpetual race for the top spot continues and writes a chapter in every scenario that not even the health crisis has been able to stop. In the Portuguese's backyard, the Barça captain scored and won. A goal that allowed him to cut the distance in this particular post-pandemic duel. And draw a new trend.
The fact is that in the imagination of the fans, the Portuguese is a better penalty taker. The data confirms this, since to date, his success rate is 84.3% after 129 of 153 attempts have been scored. The Argentinean, for his part, has a score of 81.7 percent after converting 94 of 115. These percentages, however, have changed since the pandemic: Cristiano had 0.4 more points before the break (84.7 percent), Messi has risen by one point (he was at 80.7 percent before).
What's more, Messi hadn't actually taken a penalty in an official match since 16 February 2019. Since then, he has racked up 12 consecutive penalties without a single miss (13 counting a friendly against Uruguay). On the way, he did miss one that Alisson stopped in a friendly between Brazil and Argentina, although Leo scored in the rebound. Moreover, in 2020 he has converted all seven.
In that time, Cristiano has missed three penalties: against Chievo (21 January 2019), against Sampdoria in Serie A, and against Milan in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, the latter two just a month and a half apart. He has scored one more than Messi in 2020 (eight), but he has only scored two in a row (Lyon and Rome).
Since the current season began, Cristiano has been more destructive than Messi: 17-11 is the current goal tally. A fight in which the Barcelona-born player has been keeping up particularly well from the penalty spot. 55% of his goals since March (a total of six) have come from penalties. And in particular, in the 20-21 season, Messi has not managed to score in any other way. Except for the two in the summer friendly against Girona, the last goal scored by the Rosario native was the outstanding one against Napoli in the Champions League.
Compiling all the matches, of clubs and national teams, the Argentinean has proved to be infallible with penalties, six from six. The Portuguese, however, has not had the same accuracy, as he missed two of the nine he took.
The seven that he did score have made up 41% of all of his goals in post-pandemic football, 15 with Juventus and the other two representing his country. Interestingly, in the last game he scored, against Roma, he did it both from the open-play and from the penalty spot.
So the overall averages leave Cristiano Ronaldo in a better position, whose average for every 90 minutes is 0.92 after 1668 minutes of play. Messi's, on the other hand, stands at 0.5 after his eleven goals in the 1,980 minutes he has played for Barça and Argentina.
Despite the streak of infallibility that the Barça captain has been showing in recent weeks, he is still a long way from Cristiano in his personal battle for penalties, specifically 35 goals away.