Cristiano Ronaldo is only better than Lionel Messi at getting red cards.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had five expulsions in Real Madrid’s shirt, while Lionel Messi has never been sent off in 10 years at Barcelona. The first time he was sent off was against Almeria in the Santiago Bernabeu, for two yellow cards. One was for celebrating a goal without his shirt.
The second was for elbowing Mtiliga of Malaga. The third, in the final of the 2013 Copa del Rey, for kicking out at Gabi’s face after being fouled.
The fourth was last February in the San Mames, where he got in a scrap with Iturraspe. And finally the fifth was on Saturday, against Cordoba, for kicking Edimar.
When Ronaldo played for Manchester United, he was sent off on four occasions. It’s clear that Messi acts far better than the Portuguese once the two players are on the field.
Ronaldo is also better than Messi when it comes to penalties – he has scored far more – but the Argentine doesn’t care too much about that.
Ronaldo has been shown five straight red cards while being sent off five more times for two yellows. Some, like Sunday’s were dubious. Others, like his first sending off with Manchester United, were petulant. A couple verged on violent.
In contrast, Messi has one career red card despite consistently taking a beating from larger opponents. When he was sent off, it was for an elbow as he tried to shake off a Hungarian defender who was grabbing him.
The yellow card comparison isn’t quite as stark. Ronaldo has seen 131 yellow cards in his career. Messi has been cautioned 68 times. By this metric, Messi appears to be far better at controlling his temper while on a yellow than Ronaldo.
Neither Messi nor Ronaldo are saints nor demons on the pitch. But it’s clear one is more prone to naughty behavior than the other.