Even Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi can be stopped and these players showed the world how to do it.
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo – a rivalry that has defined a generation, two players who have stood above everyone else and dominated the world of football. Such has been their dominance that the two have shared the last 9 Ballon d’Ors between them.
Between them they have won 13 league titles (10 in Spain alone), 7 UEFA Champions Leagues, and countless other trophies, apart from breaking almost every record that is there. However, they are all but mere mortals and as such can be stopped with the right combination of determination, grit, and intelligence.
Here we take a look at the 5 players who have stopped Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi:
1) Arne Friedrich vs Lionel Messi
FIFA World Cup 2010 quarter-final (Argentina 0-4 Germany)
Lionel Messi was determined to make Die Mannschaft pay for it. The two teams met again at the World Cup in 2010, again in the quarter-finals but this time the result was far more humiliating.
Joachim Low’s side annihilated Diego Maradona’s Argentina en route to recording a 4-0 win. Thomas Muller opened the scoring in only the third minute of the game before Miroslav Klose netted twice on either side of Arne Freidrich’s strike.
Friedrich who had denied Ronaldo at the 2008 Euros starting at right-back, was starting in the heart of defence and kept the mercurial Messi subdued, who was playing in the hole behind Higuain and Tevez.
2) Arne Friedrich vs Cristiano Ronaldo
UEFA Euro 2008 quarter-final (Portugal 2-3 Germany)
In the quarter-final of Euro 2008, Germany came face to face against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Die Mannschaft was looking to reach the semi-final of the competition for the first time since 1996 while Portugal was looking to vanquish the ghosts of the defeat against Greece in the final of Euro 2004 at home.
Ronaldo was subdued for much of the game and it was the genius of Friedrich at right-back that didn’t allow the Portuguese to have a desired impact on the game. Ronaldo did get the better of the German on one occasion, which led to the latter’s booking, however, that was the only time in that 90 minutes that he got the better of the lanky German.
3) Sergio Ramos vs Cristiano Ronaldo
UEFA Euro 2012 semi-final (Portugal 0-0 Spain | Penalties 2-4)
While Cristiano Ronaldo was subdued by Arne Freidrich in the quarter-final of the 2008 Euros, it was his Real Madrid teammate, Sergio Ramos, who stopped him in the semi-final of the 2012 European Championship.
The Spaniard benefitted from having played alongside Ronaldo for years and he put his knowledge of the Portuguese’s game to good effect as he was able to overwhelm his friend in the all-important clash, albeit with some help from Barcelona’s Gerard Pique.
4) Sergio Ramos vs Lionel Messi
At the recently concluded El Clasico, which Barcelona won 3-2, Lionel Messi made all the headlines for his heroic double – including a last-second winner – which kept the Catalan giants in the title race, somehow. They went on to lose the title to Real Madrid on the final day of the season finishing 3 points behind their arch-rivals.
However, the game helped Messi end goal drought in El Clasicos, having not scored in the last 6 of them, 3 of which were won by the Santiago Bernabeu outfit. Not only in these 6 but countless other Clasicos in which Messi has not scored, it has been down to some brilliant defending by Sergio Ramos – the one constant in Real Madrid’s defence
5) Diego Godin vs Lionel Messi
UEFA Champions League 2015/16 quarter-final (Atletico Madrid 2-0 Barcelona | Agg: 3-2)
Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin has made a name for himself as one of the toughest defenders in the world of football. Atletico Madrid has managed to knock out Barcelona from the Champions League twice in the last 4 years and it is the Uruguayan who has played a starring role in these victories.
Godin has kept some of the biggest names in the world at bay and it was no surprise that the center-back was able to keep the charismatic Lionel Messi at bay in the all-important UEFA Champions League quarter-final of 2016.
6) Diego Godin vs Cristiano Ronaldo
La Liga 2014/15 (Atletico Madrid 4-0 Real Madrid)
Lionel Messi is not the only one who has been tormented by Godin, his biggest rival Cristiano Ronaldo also had to suffer at the hands of the Uruguayan. The Uruguayan has been a rock at the back in all of Atleti’s achievements in recent years, which includes being the only team apart from Barcelona or Real Madrid to win La Liga in the last decade, apart from reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League on two occasions.
The head-to-head record between the two Madrid clubs is surprisingly skewed towards the Vicente Calderon outfit in recent years, despite Los Blancos’ two wins over Atleti in the final of the UEFA Champions League. However, one such game in the Vicente Calderon outfit humiliated their opponents stands out, Diego Simeone’s side 4-0 win over Real Madrid at home.