Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi. The grandfather of all footballing debates. As we take a break from live sporting action, we now have the chance to pause, reflect and enjoy the rivalry that has given us all so much joy over the years. Who is the GOAT? We may never know, but we sure can appreciate both of them.
In the second installment of this series, we look back at the one thing they have been fighting for, year in, year out. The trophies. Collective or individual, at the end of a season, it's the titles you have in your bag that count.
Cristiano Ronaldo - FA Cup, 2003-04
Ronaldo won the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira (Portugal's equivalent of the Community Shield/Spanish Super Cup) with Sporting Lisbon in 2002, but one-off trophies of that sort are not being considered here. Keeping that in mind, Ronaldo's first major trophy came with Manchester United and the 2003-04 FA Cup. He played a key role in the campaign, including opening the scoring in the final against Millwall (United won 3-0).
Lionel Messi - La Liga, 2004-05
The year Messi first broke through into the Barcelona senior team, aged 17, wearing No 30 on his back. He made just seven league appearances, scoring the one goal. But there was enough glimpses in there to convince the world that there was more to it than just hype when Ronaldinho had said, after Messi's first training session with the seniors, that the young man was going to be better than him.
First league title
Ronaldo - English Premier League, 2006-07
Coincidentally, also the first year Ronaldo ended a league campaign with a double-figure goal tally (17, he has not dipped below that since). With Ronaldo running riot alongside Wayne Rooney, Manchester United ended a long (in Alex Ferguson terms) three-year wait for the trophy.
An aside - Interesting trivia from that season: Manchester City finished on 14th, scoring fewer goals than anyone else in the division (29)
Messi - see entry for first title.
Most recent league title
Ronaldo - Serie A, 2018-19
Many had doubts about how a 33-year-old Ronaldo would fare in a completely unfamiliar environment. Well, he top-scored for Juve (21 goals) and was crowned Serie A MVP as the Bianconeri lifted their eight straight scudetto. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to a new league, eh?
Messi - La Liga, 2018-19
He won the league golden boot for a record sixth time, with 36 goals in 34 matches, as he drove Barcelona to another Liga triumph. His tenth with the club. TENTH. Messidependencia and all that.
First Champions League title
Ronaldo - Manchester United, 2007-08
The year Ronaldo well and truly announced himself as a goal-scoring phenomenon as he top-scored in both the Premier League (31 goals) and the Champions League (eight). The final, against Chelsea, saw him score a thunderous header, miss a penalty during the shootout and lift the trophy in the Moscow rain -- a first European Cup win that would lay the foundation for what was to come.
Messi - Barcelona, 2005-06
Messi played just six games, and scored just one goal in Barcelona's first European Cup win since their inaugural triumph in 1991-92. Fitness concerns kept him out of the squad for the final, a 2-1 win against Arsenal. Another fairly tame introduction to a stage that he would soon make his own.
Most recent Champions League title
Ronaldo - Real Madrid, 2017-18
Another Champions League golden boot (15 goals), his seventh, powered Real Madrid to their thirteenth European title. One of those goals was that stupendous bicycle kick against Juventus at Turin, the reception of which he cites now as one of the main reasons he joined the club the next season.
Messi - Barcelona, 2014-15
When Barcelona romped to the title with a front three of Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Messi -- a video-game cheat code made real. Messi and Neymar were joint-top scorers (along with Ronaldo) as Barca became the first European club ever to achieve the continental treble twice.
It has been a while now, though, hasn't it?
First title with national team
Ronaldo - Euro 2016
Runner-up in Euro 2004, fourth-place in the 2006 World Cup, semi-finalists in Euro 2012, for the longest time it appeared Ronaldo would have to see out his Portugal career without an international trophy to his name, but then Euro 2016 happened. Fernando Santos' team out-defended everyone en route to Portugal's first major trophy, despite Ronaldo limping out injured early on in the final against France.
Messi - Olympics, 2008
Ahead of the Olympics, Barcelona attempted to legally bar Messi from representing Argentina in the tournament, but his insistence (and Pep Guardiola's intervention) saw him make the team to Beijing. A star-studded team (of which Messi and senior player Juan Ramon Riquelme were the standouts) would go on to win gold, beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final.
It was a bright start, but that was the last title he has won with Argentina to date, coming close on more than one occasion to breaking the jinx -- Argentina finished runner-up in the 2014 World Cup, and in three Copas America (2007, 2015, 2016).
First Ballon d'Or
Ronaldo - 2008
Premier League winner and golden boot, Champions League winner and golden boot, there wasn't much doubt going into this one. Ronaldo beat Messi by 446 points to 281 in the voting, as the two started on a decade of unprecedented dominance of the football's most prestigious individual trophy.
Messi - 2009
Much like Ronaldo in the previous year, Messi marched into the Ballon d'Or voting as League and Champions League winner. And having beaten Ronaldo in the Champions League final that summer, he beat him again, in the voting, by 473 points to 233.
Most recent Ballon d'Or
Ronaldo - 2017
Another comprehensive win for Ronaldo, nine years after his first, on the back of a historic Champions League - La Liga double for Real Madrid.
Messi - 2019
A clean 10 years after his first win, Lionel Messi remains the world's best player. This time, though, the voting was closer than ever as he beat Liverpool's man-mountain Virgil Van Dijk by 686 points to 679 (Ronaldo came in third with 476).
The one Puskas award between them - Ronaldo, 2009
Considering the mind-bending number of goals they have scored, and the absurd quality of most of them, it is a bit strange that they have only FIFA Puskas Award (for best goal scored in a calendar year) between them.
It is, though, a right proper belter.