Rivals

Mohamed Salah vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Who is better?

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Image by Matthew Burt - 90min
Image by Matthew Burt - 90min
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It is difficult to think of a more intense rivalry in English football than Manchester United vs Liverpool.

There is plenty of off-field spice that makes the meetings between these two giants of the beautiful game so enthralling but in the end, on-pitch matters will always be king.

Right now, there are no two bigger stars on either side of the divide than Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah. Both are among the very best players on the planet - but which one should be considered better?

90min selected four key comparison points to find out...


Trophies

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo is a serial winner / Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

Winning silverware isn't everything in football, but there are few better ways to assess a player than by taking a peak inside their trophy cabinet.

In this area Salah is nowhere near Ronaldo, who has amassed a ridiculous haul of both individual and team honours during his legendary career. The forward has won multiple league titles in England, Spain and Italy, along with a string of other domestic honours.

Then there's his five European Cups - a feat bettered only by Real Madrid legend Paco Gento - as well as the European Championship he won in 2016. Oh yes, and we haven't even mentioned the sack full of Ballons d'Or and other individual prizes he has scooped in the past.

In comparison, Salah's trophy haul in miniscule, even if it is still mightily impressive.


Dribbling

Image by Matthew Burt - 90min
Image by Matthew Burt - 90min

When Ronaldo broke through as crooked-teeth teenager he was exhilarating to watch on the ball. The winger was equipped with a wicked arsenal of feints, stepovers and ball-rolls, which delighted and frustrated in equal measure.

As he has developed as a player though, he began to forego the tricks in favour of efficiency, only resorting to one-on-one dribbles when necessary.

Salah, meanwhile, has retained his love of taking on and beating players throughout his career. Skilled in the art of deception and blessed with devastating pace, his recent strikes against Man City and Watford provided timely reminders of how good he is on the ball.

This one is ridiculous close - but we're just giving it to Salah.


Finishing

Both of these players were terrific finishers in their prime and remain dynamite in front of goal to this day. Do not be surprised to see them going head to head for the Premier League Golden Boot this season.

The question is, which one is better?

Salah has the advantage in the Premier League stakes. The 32 goals he notched in his debut season for Liverpool is a record for a 38-game campaign. Impressive.

However, Ronaldo's goal-scoring exploits are in a league of their own. He has consistently returned 40+ goal seasons, and incredibly notched 48 strikes in La Liga alone during the 2014/15 campaign. His international scorer record is bonkers too.


Off the ball

Rico Henry, Mohamed Salah
Salah loves to win the ball back quickly / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

The best modern forwards do not just need to be able to score and assist. A few exceptions aside, they also need to lead their team's press from the front.

As one might expect from a player who has worked under Jurgen Klopp for so long, Salah is far better than Ronaldo at this.

CR7 has never been a hard worker defensively, preferring to save his energy for match-winning contributions in the final third. His lack of pressing reached new heights during the 2020/21 season though, with his 7.23 pressures per game putting him in the bottom percentile of forwards in Europe's top five leagues.


Results

Cristiano Ronaldo takes the title thanks to a public vote
Cristiano Ronaldo takes the title thanks to a public vote / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

After four categories, it's all square between Ronaldo and Salah. So 90min went public, asking you to vote for the best...and the results are in!

It was an incredibly close poll, but 56% voted for Ronaldo as the best, while 44% opted for Salah.


The article is a part of 90min's Rivals series.

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