Comparing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s penalty records

Quick Reads

Read the replies on anything about PSG star Lionel Messi and Manchester United icon Cristiano Ronaldo and you’re likely to come across their devoted fans squabbling about their respective penalty records.

The idea being that penalty goals are somehow less legitimate, padding out the stats of their incredible records as the all-time top scorers of Barcelona and Argentina, Real Madrid and Portugal respectively.

But which of the two greats of the game has the better record from 12 yards out, and who has scored more spot-kicks overall?

Ronaldo has a reputation as the more dependable penalty-taker, but is that actually borne out by the stats?

“I would like to be more effective from the penalty spot,” Messi told Catalunya Radio back in 2018.

“But it’s difficult to work on penalties. It’s not the same taking them in training as it is in a game. You can have an idea in your head or something you have worked on, but it’s more difficult than it seems.

“The goalkeeper has a lot to do with it, too. If they guess right, they save it. But it’s obvious that I’d like to get better at taking penalties.”

We’ve delved into Messi and Ronaldo’s statistics to compare the two – from their records for club and country, to penalty shootouts, famous high-pressure misses and the ratio of their overall goalscoring tallies.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Club penalties taken: 149
Club penalties scored: 127
Success rate: 85.2%

International penalties taken: 22
International penalties scored: 16
Success rate: 72.7%

Total penalties taken: 171
Total penalties scored: 143
Total success rate: 83.6%

Proportion of career club goals: 18.45%
Proportion of career international goals: 13.9%
Proportion of total goals: 17.8%

Shootout record: Scored six of eight penalties taken (75%). Won seven, lost five (didn’t take a penalty in four shootouts).

Notable misses:

– 2008 Champions League semi-final vs Barcelona (still won)
– 2008 Champions League final vs Chelsea (shootout) (still won)
– 2012 Champions League semi-final vs Bayern Munich (shootout) (lost)

Lionel Messi

Club penalties taken: 109
Club penalties scored: 84
Success rate: 77.1%

International penalties taken: 22
International penalties scored: 18
Success rate: 81.8%

Total penalties taken: 131
Total penalties scored: 102
Total success rate: 77.9%

Proportion of career club goals: 12.3%
Proportion of career international goals: 22.5%
Proportion of total goals: 13.45%

Shootout record: Scored six of seven penalties taken (85%). Won three, lost four.

Notable misses:

– 2012 Champions League semi-final vs Chelsea (lost)
– 2016 Copa America final vs Chile (shootout) (lost)