Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Who has scored most free-kicks goals?

Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may be at the twilight of their careers but these otherworldly specimens have not stopped setting the bar and competing for records even at their ripe age. When most footballers have either retired or are playing in relatively obscurity but these two are not your average professional footballers for sure. Their free kick taking ability often ends up going under the radar and gets overshadowed by other aspects of their game primarily their goalscoring exploits and their impact on the game in general. But sometimes, dead ball heroics do also deserve our full attention. 

CR7 is now merely two goals shy of Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo slotted two goals via free kicks into the back of the net and added two assists in the first half of Al-Nassr’s decisive victory over Abha.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo (Credit - CNN)

Cristiano Ronaldo has now managed  achieve at least three goals in a game for the 65th time in his professional football career with his hat trick against Abha. In addition to that, he has also achieved 35 trebles after turning 30, which is 29 higher than his arch nemesis Lionel Messi who  has accomplished this feat since reaching the landmark.

Juninho Pernambucano
Juninho (Credit - Transfermarkt)

For all the celebrities who have gained international recognition for their ability to take free kicks  with likes of David Beckham who can bend it like Beckham. Juninho and James Ward Prowse who have had a knack of pulling of the impossible out of a dead ball situation and creating magic out of literally nothing. This commitment has been otherworldly to say the least but is many a times taken granted by us fans as we end up holding them to unreasonable standards but they were the ones who had set the bar so high so its quite poetic and bittersweet in its own way.

Many players have become well-known for their ability to strike the dead ball in England, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and every other major footballing nation in the world throughout the history of football but only a select few can even match if not do better than these two GOATS

Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi(Left) Cristiano Ronaldo(Right) (Credit -

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the world’s greatest free-kick specialists. When it comes down to their freekick rate of return, that is how effective they are every time they take a free kick though, the two players’ paths have had completely different outcomes. 

Cristiano Ronaldo gained notoriety early on in his career for his incredible goals scored from dead-ball situations. Few people recall that on November 01, 2003 in a Premier League match against Portsmouth, he scored his first goal wearing Manchester United’s colours from a freekick. His ‘knuckleball’ approach has been emulated and kids around the world have at least once tried to pull it off and has now become a staple for anyone who has ever taken a free kick though not everyone has  his skill level to pull it off in the first place.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi (Credit -

In contrast, it is always whenever comparisons between these two arise, Messi did not always have a great career as a free-kick scorer. In reality, he had just five goals from free kicks in his record books at that time before he made history on March 20, 2012 and became Barcelona’s all-time top goal scorer. However, he netted seven goals in that same year, and for the next seven years, he averaged almost six goals from free kicks per campaign. 

When he scored 10 in a single calendar year in 2018, that was his finest hour as a free kick taker though he has pulled of some amazing kicks during his time with the David Beckham owned club. In an interesting observation via memory and eye test, it is to be noted that Ronaldo’s skill level declined as Messi  has risen to become one of the greatest free-kick shooters in the world .

Cristiano Ronaldo's free kicks
Cristiano Ronaldo (Credit - The Sun)

Ronaldo’s recent free-kick goals for the Middle East side have seen him move to 63 set-piece goals while Messi boasts 65 goals. The rate at which CR7 is scoring, it would not be a surprise if he manages to surpass Messi and have the bragging rights for being undisputed in this category.

Cover Credits - Sports Illustrated

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