Cristiano Ronaldo and Eusebio, besides being Portuguese, leading scorers, holders of impressive numbers and among the all-time greatest footballers, have another thing in common: none of them was “the man” in their own time. To the misfortune, of the two greatest players from the last flower of Latium motherland, there was a South American genius in the middle of road; first Pele, now Messi.
Interestingly, there are similar aspects in both rivalries: same age difference (2 years); just like Eusebio in the past, CR7 hates the comparison with his more celebrated opponent (however, unlike Ronaldo and Messi, Pele and Eusebio were personal friends). Even after superior seasons to Pele and Messi, each Portuguese still was not considered the best in the world by most critics; and all of them have absurd scoring numbers compared to their peers.
Today, football fans have a luxury inexistent in the 60’s: they can watch several matchups a year between the two best players in the world. Despite the fact that we have yet to see a dream Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Barça or a confrontation involving Argentina and Portugal in World Cups, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo play in the same competitions, which has given us some unforgettable games. Both played against each other in two major finals: 2009’s Champions League, in which the Argentinian scored one goal to help his Barcelona beat the Portuguese’s Manchester United; and the 2013 Copa Del Rey, when Ronaldo scored two times for Real, beating La Pulga’s Barcelona.
Playing in the different competitions and continents, the Pele and Eusebio duel almost always happened in friendly games and Cups. None the less, still the world had the pleasure to watch them in official and historical matchups, like in 1962 (two wins for Santos over Benfica in the Intercontinental Cup final) and in 1966 (Portugal 3 x 1 Brazil in the 1966 World Cup). At the Intercontinental Cup, Pele was outstanding, scoring 5 goals in 2 games and leading Santos over Benfica. In the third game at Lisboa, Pelé, perhaps in his best game ever, scored 3 goals and had one assist. At the World Cup, Eusebio got his revenge – with 2 goals, he was essential in the Portuguese win that sent Brazil home.
Because of this post, I’ve decided to continue the series that compared Pele and Messi’s numbers. This time, I will explain the head to head matchup of each one of them against the second best of their era, respectively, Eusebio and Cristiano Ronaldo (so great that maybe would be the top dog in other eras).
Next all the data and information about every game among the rivals.
Messi (Barcelona and Argentina) x Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid and Portugal):
Messi’s teams have won more games (5 total) and scored more goals that Ronaldo’s. The Argentinian has more goals, but the Portuguese was responsible for a greater percentage of his team’s goals. Trivia: there was only two National Team games.
Pele (Santos and Brazil) x Eusébio (Benfica and Portugal):
Pele’s teams won more games (5 total) and scored more goals that Eusebio’s. The Brazilian had more goals, but the Portuguese was responsible for a greater percentage of his team’s goals. Trivia: they are tied in national team games, but Eusébio has never defeated Pele in club games.
As anyone can see, the numbers are remarkably similar, showing history repeating itself: after a tough battle among two geniuses, the South American ends up with football’s crown on his head.
To check Messi and Ronaldo’s head to head matchup, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messi%E2%80%93Ronaldo_rivalry#Head-to-head
Every game between Pele and Eusebio:
06/15/1961 – Paris Tournament (neutral ground) – Santos 6 x 3 Benfica – 2 – Pelé (2 goals) – Eusébio (3 goals);
05/06/1962 – Friendly (Brazil) – Brazil 2 x 1 Portugal;
05/09/1962 – Friendly (Brazil) – Brazil 1 x 0 Portugal – Pelé (1 goal);
09/19/1962 – Intercontinental Cup (Brazil) – Santos 3 x 2 Benfica – Pelé (2 goals);
10/11/1962 – Intercontinental Cup (Portugal) – Benfica 2 x 5 Santos – Pelé (3 goals) – Eusébio (1 goal);
04/21/1963 – Friendly (Portugal) – Portugal 1 x 0 Brasil;
06/24/1965 – Friendly (Portugal) – Portugal 0 x 0 Brasil;
07/19/1966 – World Cup (ENG) – Brasil 1 x 3 Portugal – Eusébio (2 goals);
08/21/1966 – New York Champions Cup (USA) – Santos 4 x 0 Benfica – Pelé (1 gaol);
08/18/1968 – Copa Ciudad de Buenos Aires (ARG) Santos 4 x 2 Benfica;
09/1/1968 – Friendly (USA) Santos 3 x 3 Benfica – Eusébio (1 goal).
Don’t forget to read all the posts in the Pele x Messi series: