After each matchday in La Liga and Serie A, Sportsnet will look at how Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo did, and compare their performances, while keeping a running tally over the course of the season.
Ronaldo started and scored for Juventus amid rape allegations hanging over his head, helping the Bianconeri earn a 2-0 road win over Udinese on Saturday.
Starting on the left side of a front-three that included Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic, Ronaldo scored Juve’s second goal– and his fourth in Serie A – to seal an eighth consecutive win to start the season for the Turin club.
Ronaldo and Mandzukic have developed an undeniable chemistry in recent weeks, and the partnership was on fully display on Juve’s second goal. Mandzukic did great work to chase down and win the ball inside the box with two Udinese players hovering around him, before knocking it back to Ronaldo. From there, the Portuguese took it first time and hit a powerful shot that sailed past goalkeeper Simone Scuffet and into the far corner of the net.
He could have had a second goal later in the match, but Scuffet came up with a big save to deny the Portuguese.
Aside from the two Champions League matches, Ronaldo has played every minute of every game this season for Juventus, a testament to his conditioning. It also underlines his importance to Juve, as they attempt to sweep all before them, both on the domestic and European front. The upcoming international break comes at a good time for Ronaldo – he wasn’t called up by Portugal – as it will allow him to rest and recuperate.
Going forward, though, it’ll be interesting to see how the rape allegations will affect him, and whether there will be enough public pressure to force Juventus to bench him – or even not dress him for games.
Not to be outdone by his Portuguese rival, Lionel Messi scored a fabulous goal this weekend. But it wasn’t enough to lift his side to victory, as Barcelona had to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Valencia.
After having an attempt saved moments earlier, Messi levelled the score in the 23rd minute with his sixth goal of the La Liga campaign.
Starting off a fabulous 1-2 sequence with teammate Luis Suarez, Messi took the return pass and fired fantastic, low drive from 23 yards that beat Valencia goalkeeper Neto inside the post. It was a trademark Messi goal, from the vision, the sublime touch on the ball, his quick feet and the finish.
The Argentine carved out a few chances after that, but none that really tested Neto. He also had trouble getting the better of countryman Ezequiel Garay – the Valencia defender did a good job of thwarting Messi in the second half when Barcelona poured on the pressure in search of a winning goal that never came.
The draw dropped Barcelona into second place, tied with Atletico Madrid, and behind Sevilla.
Lionel Messi in La Liga
Top line stats: 6 goals, 4 assists, 8 games played
Total minutes: 665
Total shots: 36
Shots on target: 18
Pass success rate: 82.7%
WhoScored.com rating: 8.42 (ranked #1 in La Liga)
Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A
Top line stats: 4 goals, 4 assist, 8 games played
Total minutes: 720
Total shots: 71
Shots on target: 26
Pass success rate: 87.9%
WhoScored.com rating: 7.95 (ranked #2 in Serie A)
MATCHDAY 8: MESSI OR RONALDO?
It’s a close one, as both players scored fabulous goals for their respective teams. But overall, Ronaldo was far more involved for Juve than Messi was for Barcelona, and the Portuguese came closer to scoring a second goal than his rival.
Advantage: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Season series to date: Ronaldo leads 5-3.
Both teams are off next week due to the international break. Juventus returns to action on Oct. 20 when it hosts Genoa, while Barcelona welcomes Sevilla to the Camp Nou later that day.