Neither Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi have ever won a World Cup. It is fitting that the Round of 16 kicks off with Messi and Ronaldo both looking to advance in what could be the final World Cup where we have both players competing. Their resumes include virtually every honor you can think of, minus a World Cup.
Messi lives in the shadow of Diego Maradona, who helped lead Argentina to its last World Cup victory in 1986. Messi did lead Argentina to the final in 2014, but came up short against Germany. Ronaldo made his deepest World Cup run in his 2006 debut when Portugal made the semifinals. Coincidentally, both Ronaldo and Messi played in their first World Cup in 2006.
Portugal is still looking for their first World Cup title, but for some reason Ronaldo does not appear to be under the same type of pressure that Messi has to win the elusive trophy. Many have speculated that this will be Messi’s final World Cup, and part of this speculation came from Messi himself, who publicly retired from the team after Argentina’s loss in the 2016 Copa America.
Messi ultimately had a change of heart, but it is clear the pressure of the team has taken its toll on the star. Despite the speculation, Messi alluded to wanting to continue playing until he helped lead Argentina to a World Cup. The Sun detailed Messi’s comments after Argentina’s disappointing start to the 2018 World Cup.
It means so much because for Argentina the World Cup is special – and for me too. I’ve always had the dream of watching me raise the World Cup. And then seeing the emotion that goes with it. My hair stands on end just thinking about that moment. It would make millions of Argentines in the world happy. So we cannot give up on that dream. I have won all the most important tournaments but I am ambitious to the end. I would not like to retire from active football without being a world champion with my country.
Ronaldo has admitted he is content to finish his career without a World Cup. Ronaldo explained his contentment in an interview with Sky Sports.
I achieved everything I dreamed of in football. I really think I have achieved so many nice things that I don’t have any more dreams. But if you ask me if I want to keep winning of course I do. Obviously I would love to win the World Cup. But if my career ended now I would be very proud. I never thought my career was going to be so nice.
Ronaldo got off to a hot start to the 2018 tournament by doubling his career World Cup goal total from three to six thanks to a hat trick against Spain in the opener. Prior to 2018, Ronaldo scored one goal in each tournament. Messi has six career World Cup goals heading into the Round of 16, with four of the goals coming during Argentina’s deep run in 2014.
Here’s a look at Messi and Ronaldo’s World Cup history.
Messi’s World Cup Appearances With Argentina
Ronaldo’s World Cup Appearances With Portugal
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Source: Heavy Sports