If Barcelona vs. Manchester United is the greatest team showdown club soccer has to offer, then Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo is the premier individual matchup the sport can provide.
Ronaldo, the current World Footballer of the Year, has been unable to recreate his magical 2007-08 season, but the Portuguese winger has still been one of the main driving forces behind United's remarkable campaign. His power, movement and finishing ability are as good as anyone's, and his tricks, flicks and unique moves set him a class apart.
Ronaldo has the capacity to lift his team upon his shoulders. But so does Messi.
The little Argentinean is simply a magician with a ball at his feet, and his darting runs are a joy to behold. His low center of gravity enables him to effortlessly ghost through defenses and to torment anyone brave enough to mark him. Messi's fans argue that, while Ronaldo may sometimes appear more graceful or spectacular, the Barcelona player offers more significant production.