Eibarman vs Mr Champions

In recent years a story has emerged that accuses Messi of only scoring goals against teams at the bottom of the table. In Social Networks it is common to read comments that accuse him of being Eibarman.

We are going to check, with data in hand, if this story is true or if it’s just another maneuver to try to slander Messi.

While they coincided in La Liga (11/06/2009 – 10/07/2018)

We can see that, throughout the 9 seasons that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shared in the Spanish La Liga, Messi scored 5 more goals against the TOP5 of each season. Both scored the same goals against teams between places 6 and 10, Cristiano scored 14 more goals against opponents in places 11-15, and Messi scored 27 more goals against opponents between places 16 and 20.

Breakdown by season

In Cristiano Ronaldo’s first season at Real Madrid, Messi scored more goals in all groups except against rivals between 11th and 15th, where they both scored 6 goals.

In season 2010/2011, Cristiano Ronaldo had greater effectiveness against the TOP5 of La Liga and also against the teams between places 11 and 15. Both scored the same goals against the last 5 classified and Messi scored 3 more goals against the teams of positions 6 to 10.

In season 2011/2012, Messi outscored Cristiano in all sectors, except against rivals from position 6 to 10.

In season 2012/2013, Messi outscored Cristiano in all sectors, except against rivals ranked 11-15, where they both scored the same goals.

In season 2013/2014, Messi outperformed Cristiano in all sectors, except against rivals ranked 11-15.

In season 2014/2015, Messi and Cristiano scored the same goals against La Liga’s TOP5, and also against teams between 11th and 15th places. Cristiano led the sector 6-10 and Messi 16-20.

In season 2015/2016, Messi and Cristiano scored the same goals against La Liga’s TOP5, Cristiano led sectors 6-10 and 11-15, while Messi led 16-20.

In season 2016/2017, Messi edged out Cristiano in all sectors, except against rivals ranked 11-15, where they both scored the same goals.

In season 2017/2018, both scored the same goals against the TOP 5 of La Liga. Cristiano dominated the sector of teams from 6th to 10th place. Messi led sectors 11-15 and 16-20.

Conclusions

Regarding the period in which both were playing in La Liga, comprised between the seasons 2009/2010 and 2017/2018, we can say that:

Against TOP 5

  • In 4 seasons, they scored the same goals
  • In only 1 season, Cristiano Ronaldo scored more goals than Messi
  • In 4 seasons, Messi scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo

Against teams from 6th to 10th

  • In 4 seasons, they scored the same goals
  • In only 1 season, Cristiano Ronaldo scored more goals than Messi
  • In 4 seasons, Messi scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo

Against teams from 11th to 15th

  • In 4 seasons, they scored the same goals
  • In 3 seasons, Cristiano Ronaldo scored more goals than Messi
  • In 2 seasons, Messi scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo

Contra los últimos 5 clasificados

  • In 1 season, they scored the same goals
  • In 8 seasons, Messi scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo

We can conclude then that it is true that Messi scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo against the 5 worst teams in each League, but he also scored more goals than Cristiano against the top 5. In just one season, Cristiano Ronaldo scored more goals against the TOP 5, and in just one season he scored more goals against teams from 6th to 11th place. In the remaining 8 Leagues, Messi was ahead in scoring against the first half of the leaderboard.

All Leagues

Next we are going to check if this trend has varied during the time that Cristiano Ronaldo has played in Portugal, Italy or England.

We see again that Messi has scored more goals against the TOP 5 than Cristiano Ronaldo. He also scores more goals against the last 5 teams. Cristiano prevails in the middle class, between positions 6 and 15.

However, this graph is misleading, since Messi has played two leagues less than Cristiano Ronaldo, so we should go to the averages to see how each of them has performed in each sector.

What we observe is that Messi has a goal ratio in Leagues of 0.91 goals per game, compared to 0.79 for Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi’s average is higher against the TOP 5 of each season, also against rivals from 6 to 10 and also against rivals from 16 to 20. Cristiano Ronaldo only slightly surpasses Messi in the sector 11-15, with 0.89 goals per game against Messi’s 0.88.

Not counting Cristiano Ronaldo’s seasons as a midfielder

A widespread argument is that Cristiano is statistically affected by his first seasons, in which he still did not play as a forward. In his fifth season he already scored 28 goals, after the sale of Ruud Van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid, so we are going to assume that in the first 4 seasons he assumed a role in the midfield.

If we eliminate the first 4 seasons of Cristiano, the fair thing is to also eliminate the first 4 seasons of Messi, since in these initial seasons such good statistics are not usually obtained.

Let us analyze then the period 2006-2021 of Cristiano Ronaldo against the period 2008-2021 of Lionel Messi:

Again the same trend is repeated. Messi has more goals against the TOP 5 and against the last 5, while Cristiano has more goals against the middle of the table.

However, as in the previous case, here we are comparing 15 leagues of Cristiano Ronaldo against 13 leagues of Messi. Therefore, the absolute figures are misleading.

Let’s go to the averages:

Again we see that Messi has a higher average in the Leagues, not counting Cristiano Ronaldo’s stage as a midfielder. We also observe that Messi’s average is higher in all sectors, except for positions 11 to 15, where Cristiano prevails.

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