Breaking down Cristiano Ronaldo’s international goalscoring

Cristiano Ronaldo will go down in history as one of the greatest footballers of all time. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, there is no denying the Portuguese player’s success.

Over the summer, Ronaldo added to his sterling goalscoring record by equalling Ali Daei’s international goalscoring record with 109 goals for Portugal. Ronaldo has the chance to break the record for most international goals this autumn in UEFA World Cup qualifying.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Goalscorer supreme

Ronaldo is joint-leader all-time international goalscorer with 109 goals as previously mentioned. Remarkably, only 16% of Ronaldo’s international goals have come against the world’s top 15 teams. It really isn’t a surprise as the gap in quality is large between the best teams and mediocre teams in the world.

The forward has scored 17 goals versus the current top 15 teams in the FIFA world rankings — Belgium, France, Brazil, England, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, Denmark, Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, and Colombia. With the 2022 World Cup coming up next year, Ronaldo has never scored a goal versus England, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Italy, or Colombia.

In contrast, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored most of his goals against lower-ranked national teams. He has scored a combined 42 goals against the Faroe Islands, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra, Luxembourg, Hungary, Estonia, and Armenia.

Research has found that Ronaldo has scored 32 of his 109 goals (32%) against national teams outside the world rankings top 100, 57 (52%) versus teams outside the top 50, and 92 (84%) versus teams lower than the top 15 in the world rankings.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Are Messi’s goals more important?

Critics of Ronaldo will point to the forward’s poor goal rate against top international teams. It is something proponents of Messi will point to as the reason the Argentine is the better of the two stars. Of the 76 goals Messi has scored for Argentina, 22 of them have come against teams in the top 15 in the world rankings.

The main reason Messi’s goals have come against the top 15 sides unlike Ronaldo is that Argentina have more opportunities to play against top national teams in international play. Portugal often have to play versus the lower-tier teams during UEFA competitions. Argentina face strong competition in CONMEBOL play as well as at the World Cup.

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