Lionel Messi twice as good as Cristiano Ronaldo according to a Belgian Scientific research. The research was done on the basis of all actions taken by the players in a match.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano are two of if not the most prolific players to have played the beautiful game of football. Naturally this has led to many debates among fans over which of the two is superior. However, a group of researchers have now taken it upon themselves to provide the answer.
Messi and Ronaldo, without a shade of a doubt, are easily the two best active footballers today. Had they played in separate generations; they would have been heralded as the best that ever lived. Fortunately for fans today, they can witness two masters in action in the same age.
At one point they even played in the same league and featured for eternal rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. This only seemed to further the divide between warring fans who swore by either of the two. The players didn’t seem to pay much attention to the hullabaloo though. Their rivalry of sorts in fact helped them push each other to limits no other footballer has reached before.
Computer scientists from KU Leuven in collaboration with Dutch data intelligence company SciSports has now put their hat in the debate. They have developed a model to help them find their answer and the results have shed an interesting light to the question.
VAEP Value explained
“The value of a soccer player is often determined by goals and assists,” says professor Jesse Davis while explaining the model. “A goal is a rare event, however, because an average of 1,600 actions are estimated to occur in a match.
Our model views every action – shots, passes, dribbles, tackles … – and calculates its value.” This value, the so-called Valuing Actions by Estimating Probabilities, indicates to what extent the actions of a player contribute to the result, both when scoring a goal and preventing a goal against.
“That way you get a more complete picture of a player and his value for the team”, it sounds.
Lionel Messi twice as good as Cristiano Ronaldo!
For the research, the team focused on seasons 2013/14 up to and including 2017/18 (Ronaldo’s last season with Real Madrid) of the Spanish competition. Lionel Messi trumps Cristiano Ronaldo according to VAEP.
However, it is the manner in which he has overtaken the Portuguese ace that is most shocking. Cristiano Ronaldo earned 0.61 points per match while the Argentine received almost the double at 1.21 per game!
Explaining the result, PhD student Tom Decroos, who collaborated on the research says:
“In the first seasons, Messi and Ronaldo’s scores are very close to each other. From the 2015-2016 season, Messi has stepped away from its eternal rival. We see a trade-off with most football players; either they make a lot of actions with a less high value – that’s the case with Paul Pogba, for example.” “Or you have players who are less likely to hit the ball, but who have a big impact. That is typical of strikers like Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi is exceptional in this area; the Argentinian has a very high number of actions and they also have a high value. “
This will in no way help settle the debate among the fans. Many will instead argue that a game of football is much more than just numbers. However, this is the beauty of Ronaldo and Messi. You know you’ve achieved a legendary level of rivalry when even scientists begin to involve themselves in the argument over who is the greatest of all time.
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