The decade-long debate of who is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has finally been settled, so to speak.
According to Sporza, a group of computer scientists in Belgium from KU Leuven University, along with Dutch data experts SciSports, have devised a formula to find out the better player between the two greatest of all-time players.
“The value of a soccer player is often determined by goals and assists,” Jesse Davis, a professor at the university, said.
“A goal is a rare event, however, because an average of 1,600 actions are estimated to occur in a match. Our model looks at each action – shots, passes, dribbles, tackles – and calculates its value.”
The value calculated is called Valuing Actions by Estimating Probabilities (VAEP), which Messi averages 1.21 per game while Ronaldo is down at 0.61. This proves that the Argentine talisman is a better overall player than the Juventus star.
“In the first seasons, Messi and Ronaldo’s scores are very close to each other. From the 2015/16 season, Messi has stepped away from his eternal rival,” PhD student Tom Decroos, who helped with the research, said.
“We see a trade-off with most football players: either they make a lot of actions with less high value – that’s the case with Paul Pogba, for example,” he added.
“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 Ronaldo.
“Messi is exceptional in this area: the Argentinian has a very high number of actions and they also have a high value.”