With Ronaldo who is 34 Years of age and Messi ,31 ,nearing the twilight of their careers one begins to wonder what the footballing world would have been like for the past decade or so if these two Legends of the game didn’t exist. As sad as it is to admit, but yes ,both of them would retire in the next couple of seasons leaving a void that is hard ,if not impossible to fill.
If you were alive to witness possibly the greatest Rivalry in sporting history then you’re the lucky ones ,but it would be hard for any fan past this era to realize how high these two set the bar. They were truly in a class of their own. but what would the footballing world have been like in a parallel universe where Messi and Ronaldo we rent scouted into two of the best clubs of the time?
1 – The FIFA Balon D’or would’ve been an actual target for most top players
The FIFA Balon D’or wouldn’t be such a duopoly. Xavi, Iniesta, Zlatan, Robben and others would have made it a genuinely contestable trophy not to to be taken for granted.People could never comprehend how 10 (possibly more) of these could be shared between just two persons.
2 – Real Madrid and Barcelona probably wouldn’t have dominated the footballing world.
Now im not denying the fact that these two giants wouldn’t have been the best clubs without Ronaldo or Messi in them. with the likes of Modric, Iniesta , Xavi and many more superstars in the teams they would’ve still been the best clubs in the world. but i seriously doubt they would’ve achieved such heights, like the sextuple of 2009 and Real Madrid’s 4 Champions Leagues in 5 Seasons, if these two weren’t taking the helm at both clubs.
3 – Football Statistics wouldn’t be so predictable
before the Messi-Ronaldo era scoring 30 goals, a season would’ve been a career highlight for most strikers but these two set the bar so high that anything below 50 goals a season was considered an off-form season. Year in Year out the top scorer of European club football was either Messi or Ronaldo. The race for the golden boot became such a Duopoly that other top strikers which included the likes of Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic, Suarez, All top Class players, considered the Golden boot almost an Out of Limits Achievement; Aswell as the Ballon’D’Or
4 – Football records would’ve been split between generations of players and not two.
Messi and Ronaldo have made existing records obsolete almost on a weekly basis – most goals scored in La Liga (Messi) vs most goals scored in Champions League (Ronaldo); most goals scored in club competitions in a calendar year (Messi; 79 in 2012) vs most international goals in a calendar year (Ronaldo; 25 in 2013); Argentina’s all-time top goal scorer vs Portugal’s all-time top goalscorer; the list goes on and on. After a while it almost became predictable.
5 – Portugal And Spain would’ve struggled
Needless to say, any team would be considerably better with either of the two playing in them. but it’s pretty clear that their respective national teams are Heavily dependent on the two superstars, and I don’t even blame them.
Although Messi hasn’t won anything yet with his national team and has been criticised in the past for underwhelming performances at the national level, Messi has responded to his critics with stellar displays in WC 2014, Copa America 2016 and the ongoing CONMEBOL. Argentina will have a huge void to fill when Messi retires – as was demonstrated by the outcry over the captain’s retirement after Copa America 2016 and his subsequent return.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, has always been a national hero – perhaps never more so than when he scored two goals in three minutes against Sweden in the 2014 WC playoffs to lead his team to Brazil.
The passion Ronaldo has for his country is also the stuff of legends; anyone who has seen the sight of a tearful Ronaldo leaving the field injured after 23 minutes in the Euro 2016 final would agree to his pride and honour of wearing the Portugal jersey.
With no clear talisman primed as a successor to Ronaldo, Portugal’s future after his retirement remains hazy – although, of course, the prospect still seems a fairly long time away.