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The Rooney-Ronaldo debate

March 10, 2010

Rooney and Ronaldo

Wayne Rooney and Ronaldo playing for Manchester United


When Cristiano Ronaldo was sold to La Liga super club Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, many critics predicted that Manchester United, Ronaldo’s former club, would struggle greatly to replace a player that scored so many goals.

Enter Wayne Rooney, whose selfless play and tireless work helped supply with many of Ronaldo’s goal scoring chances. Even though he plays as a striker, Rooney never scored as many goals as Ronaldo who plays as a traditional winger, cutting in and out from the right side of the field and shooting from all over. This season however, Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson opted to play Rooney in his preferred position as a second striker playing behind a main striker. The result has been 28 goals in 33 games, while almost single handedly winning numerous games for United this season. This kind of performance has raised the question: Who is the better player to build a team around; Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo?

When their stats for this season are lined up next to each other, the question becomes even more difficult to answer.

As the graph shows, Rooney has scored 0.85 goals per game compared to Ronaldo’s 1 goal per game average. The hardest factor to keep in mind is that Rooney has played 13 more games than Ronaldo, and we don’t know if Ronaldo would be able to keep up his goal a game average through 13 more games. His injuries have weakened his goal scoring numbers however the stats do not lie, he scores a goal every game, and is the current leading scorer in the UEFA Champions League competition.

Heading into a World Cup year as the best player on each of their national team’s, one may be able to determine whom the better player is by looking how each performs for their country. In this aspect, Rooney far surpasses Ronaldo as England enjoyed a comfortable qualification process into the World Cup, losing only one game whereas Portugal played in an intense play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina and won 1-0 to qualify. Rooney also scored 9 goals during the qualifier games compared to Ronaldo who was held scoreless in every game.

This summer’s tournament may determine which player creates a more enduring legacy for himself and judging by their current form for their clubs, they will both be out to carry their countries into the finals. Good friends off the field, both know the intense rivalry between England and Portugal on the field, and should they meet somewhere in the tournament this summer, expect another highly emotional contest.

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