Neither star has managed to yet get their hands on the most coveted trophy in football – indeed, they have only appeared in one final between them so far.
Here, Sportsmail examines the World Cup careers of Messi and Ronaldo so far, and which can claim to have the upper hand…
Throughout their careers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have battled for superiority
Ronaldo and Messi will be carrying the hopes for Portugal and Argentina respectively
The La Liga duo will be in the running to finish the World Cup as the tournament’s top scorer
Ronaldo and Messi are completely different in style but are two of the world’s best players
Making his debut a year before the tournament, 18-year-old Messi was a bit-part player in Germany, starting just one game – a Group C dead rubber against Holland.
However he showed his potential with a first World Cup goal, an 88th-minute finish to put the gloss on a thumping 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro.
Messi was left on the bench for Argentina’s quarter-final against Germany, and could only watch on as the hosts dumped his country out on penalties.
Messi was a bit-part player for Argentina in 2006, but scored against Serbia and Montenegro
Following his tears in the Euro 2004 final, the then-Manchester United star announced himself on the World Cup stage by helping portugal match their best ever run, to the semi-finals.
Ronaldo only started one of Portugal’s first four games – a 2-0 win over Iran, in which he scored his first World Cup goal – before his starring role in the quarter final victory over England.
He became English public enemy No 1 for his wink after Wayne Rooney was sent off, and a national hero at home for scoring the winning penalty in the shoot-out. However a semi-final loss to France ended Ronaldo’s dream.
Ronaldo became public enemy No 1 in England after putting them out of the World Cup
MESSI IN 2006
Games played: three; Minutes: 122
Goals: one; Assists: one
Stage reached: Quarter Finals
RONALDO IN 2006
Games played: six; Minutes: 484
Goals: one; Assists: none
Stage reached: Fourth place
South Africa 2010
Having won the first of four consecutive Ballons D’Or as Barcelona dominated under the reign of Pep Guardiola, Messi was now Argentina’s key man.
He played every minute of the tournament for Diego Maradona’s side, but could not find the net as he went five games without a goal.
Messi’s high point was two assists in a 4-1 Group B win over South Korea. The low point was the 4-0 quarter-final thumping at the hands of Germany.
Messi is consoled by manager Diego Maradona after Argentina are eliminated in 2010
In 2010, Ronaldo had moved to Real but was yet to win the four Champions Leagues or four Ballons D’Or at the Bernabeu that have made him a modern legend.
In fact, although he played every minute Portugal were in action, Ronaldo had a low-key World Cup, save for a scrambled goal in the 7-0 battering of North Korea.
Those seven goals were the only ones managed by Portugal all tournament, as goalless draws with Ivory Coast and Brazil set up a last 16 tie with Spain. It was more tears for Ronaldo as their Iberian rivals won 1-0 on their way to the title.
Ronaldo scores his only goal of the 2010 World Cup, a scrambled effort against North Korea
MESSI IN 2010
Games: five; Minutes: 450
Goals: none; Assists: three
Stage reached: Quarter finals
RONALDO IN 2010
Games: four; Minutes: 360
Goals: one; Assists: one
Stage reached: Last 16
After a domestic season without silverware but personally at the height of his powers, the 2014 World Cup was supposed to belong to Messi.
At first it looked that way as he scored in every group game, including a stunning late winner against Iran. However he did not score in the knock-outs, and did not even provide an assist after the last 16 win over Switzerland.
Messi was below par in the final as Argentina were yet again thwarted by Germany. Despite this he was named player of the tournament, and looked thoroughly miserable as he collected the award.
Messi is left dejected after the 2014 final, which Argentina lost after extra time to Germany
There is good cause to suggest the 2014 World Cup represents the lowest point of Ronaldo’s entire career. He was a Champions League winner, a Ballon D’Or holder, captain of his country – the pressure was on.
Portugal, and Ronaldo, crumbled. The tone was set with a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Germany, before being held to a 2-2 draw by the USA.
Ronaldo kept up his record of scoring once in every World Cup he played at with an 80th minute winner against Ghana, but it was not enough as Portugal crashed out of Group G.
There were tears for Ronaldo after Portugal exited Brazil 2014 at the group stages
MESSI IN 2014
Games: seven; Minutes: 693
Goals: four; Assists: one
Stage reached: runners-up
RONALDO IN 2014
Games: three; Minutes: 270
Goals: one; Assists: one
Stage reached: Group Stage
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.