“Lionel Messi in Ronaldo’s Dream Team: Breaking Down the Numbers”

Lionel Mes­si has joined the 35-year-old Ronal­do’s all-time best eleven as he was named FIFA’s best male play­er of the year 2022.

The Paris Saint-Ger­main star beat out team­mates Kylian Mbappe and Karim Ben­ze­ma to win the award for the sec­ond time since win­ning the first in 2019.

Mes­si has endured a tough start to the year being out of the Bal­lon d’Or con­tenders, scor­ing six goals and pro­vid­ing nine assists in 14 Ligue 1 appear­ances ahead of the World Cup. In Qatar, he scored sev­en goals and helped Argenti­na win their third title.

Mes­si was named the Mid­dle East­’s best play­er of the tour­na­ment and won FIFA’s high­est indi­vid­ual award at the awards cer­e­mo­ny in Paris. Along­side Mbappe and Ben­ze­ma, Real Madrid mid­field­er Luka Mod­ric and Man­ches­ter City’s Erling Haa­land also made the top five.

But when Brazil­ian leg­end Ronal­do unveiled his ide­al play­er pro­file fol­low­ing Mes­si’s win, there was an inter­est­ing omission.

Nat­u­ral­ly, Mes­si has been picked, but Cris­tiano Ronal­do has not, despite scor­ing more than 700 goals for the club.

The 38-year-old Ronal­do, a five-time Bal­lon d’Or win­ner, was over­looked as the for­mer Real Madrid play­er decid­ed to put Ronald­in­ho, Pele and him­self up front. Lionel Mes­si, Diego Arman­do Maradona, Zico and a com­plete Brazil­ian for­ward line. What kind of peak sea­son is that?

At the back, with Cafu occu­py­ing the right flank of defense and com­pa­tri­ot Rober­to Car­los at left-back, Ronal­do has built a team of style and skill. Ronal­do has played with the duo in his home coun­try and enjoyed many suc­cess­es, includ­ing two World Cups.

Franz Beck­en­bauer and Paulo Mal­di­ni formed a duo at cen­tre-back, with Gian­lui­gi Buf­fon in goal. The team is made up of play­ers from four coun­tries, but inter­est­ing­ly, there are only two from Europe: Italy and Germany.

Ronal­do has brought in some of his for­mer team­mates, and it’s no won­der he’s done so well. He did­n’t play with Pele, but his record speaks for itself and many con­sid­er him the best ahead of the likes of Mes­si and Ronal­do. The San­tos leg­end passed away in Decem­ber at the age of 82.

Full Ronal­do squad: Buf­fon, Cafu, Beck­en­bauer, Mal­di­ni, Car­los, Zico, Maradona, Mes­si, Ronal­do, Pele, Ronaldinho.

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