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Inside World Cup numbers of Messi & Ronaldo

Rafe Anderson

For Sports Illustrated, Paul Carr examines how Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo fared at previous World Cups.

"At the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo was far more active in the midfield, both offensively and defensively. He went one-on-one 37 times and had 36 recoveries of the ball in 484 minutes. Four years later, he had 21 one-on-ones and 11 recoveries in 360 minutes. In 2014, those numbers dipped to 12 one-on-ones and four recoveries in 270 minutes.

This is because Ronaldo has evolved into more of a true forward than a winger. He sent in 21 crosses in 2006, and a total of 14 in 2010 and 2014. In Brazil, 35 percent of his touches were in the center third of the field (as opposed to the left or right thirds), up from 28 percent in 2010 and 18 percent in 2006."

Full article: Sports Illustrated (by Paul Carr, Director of Content Development)