Ronaldo beats Messi on social media

The long-lasting rivalry between Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona FC’s Lionel Messi goes well beyond the pitch.

Sure, it’s fun to argue which player has bragging rights as the greatest footballer in the world, but life off the pitch can be just as debateable when talking about these two soccer greats.

In a social media-centric world, often times star players can be compared simply by how many followers they have on popular content sharing websites. That’s where Ronaldo has the upper hand on not only Messi, but the rest of the world. The Portuguese striker has 101 million Instagram followers. Messi comes in at No. 2 with just over 71 million Instagram supporters.

That easily ranks the Real Madrid star as No. 1 followed athlete in the world. Barcelona’s Neymar (74.6 million) is the next closest to Ronaldo when it comes to Instagram fan base.

Three-time NBA champion LeBron James has 30.1 million followers on the social media site and has the most among non-soccer athletes.

Ronaldo isn’t just a star on Instagram. The La Liga champion has an astronomical 121 million page likes and on Facebook while 52 million fans follow his tweets with keen interest. Even in 140 characters or less, people care about what Ronaldo is sharing.

While having a strong social media following can certainly separate athletes from the rest of the pack, Ronaldo backs it up with his performance on the pitch — as witnessed once again during the 2016-17 season.

Ronaldo has guided Real Madrid to its second straight Champions League final where the four-time Ballon d’Or winner can capture his fourth European club title. That would tie Messi for total Champions League crowns and definitely cement Ronaldo as one of the greatest players of not only this generation, but of all time.

Ronaldo has saved his best soccer for the Champions League. He has 10 goals and six assists during in 2017, bringing his all-time totals in the tournament to 88 goals and 25 assists in 87 appearances.

In all competitions, Ronaldo has 401 goals but still trails Messi, who has netted 424 during his illustrious playing career.

Ronaldo, now 32 years old, and Messi, soon-to-be 30, may be slightly past their primes but neither show signs of slowing down anytime soon.

And while the rivalry can at times be a seesaw battle, Ronaldo is currently in the driver’s seat as the best player in the world. Now I must go and find out what Cristiano is tweeting about!