Rivals

Ronaldo vs Marco van Basten: Who was better?

Jack Gallagher
Image by Matthew Burt
Image by Matthew Burt /
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Ronaldo and Marco van Basten were very, very different footballers, but there's plenty which connects the two Serie A legends.

They main thing that links the pair is how brief their peaks were due to both being cursed with devastating injuries while they were at the top of their game. Both players have that 'what could have been?' aura - even if the pair were able to achieve remarkable things during their careers.

Both also represent unique time periods in both AC Milan and Inter's respective histories.

So with all of these similarities in mind, we at 90min thought it'd be prudent to ask a very simple question:

'Who was better?'

That's what we're here to hopefully answer with the help of our readers, who can vote for their favourite in a poll running on 90min as part of our Rivals series right now.


1. Technique & elegance

Image by Matthew Burt
Image by Matthew Burt /

Despite his height - 188cm if you're interested - Marco van Basten was a wonderfully elegant footballer, able to manipulate the ball in a way a man of his stature shouldn't really be able to.

He had astonishing foot work, and could trap the ball with ease no matter how it was played to him.

When we think of Ronaldo we don't really think about his elegance on the ball, rather his ferocity on it - belting past players with his outrageous speed and quick feet.

For that reason, Van Basten just edges this one.

Winner: Van Basten

2. Pace & dribbling

Ronaldo of Inter
Ronaldo at his best / Getty Images/GettyImages

Van Basten's elegance on the ball didn't mean he slowed down play or was static when he was on the ball - far from it - but in comparison to R9 basically everyone looks 'static'.

Put simply, there probably isn't a more impressive athlete who has ever played football.

I Fenomeno really was that: a phenomenon.

He pace and ability to weave his way past defenders and goalkeepers - he nearly always rounded the goalkeeper before scoring - were truly remarkable.

Remarkable in a way we may never see again.

Winner: Ronaldo

3. Honours in Milan

Marco Van Basten
Van Basten won it all at AC Milan / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

We are referring here to the trophies won by the two during their time at the Milanese clubs.

Marco van Basten, in his eight seasons at I Rossoneri (he didn't play in the last two of those) won a stupid amount of trophies during a golden ages for the club: four Scudetti, four Supercoppa Italiana, three European Cups, three UEFA Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups.

Ronaldo, in his five seasons at Inter, sadly only picked up one trophy: The UEFA Cup.

Winner: Van Basten

4. Goalscoring

Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer Player
Ronaldo loved the big occasion / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

As you're probably aware, both Ronaldo and Van Basten were pretty good goalscorers.

Both scored over 250 career goals, and scored for fun at their peaks in Serie A; when the league was the hardest to find the net in in the world.

Van Basten was the better player in the air, and scored some remarkable goals from distance too, but we have to give this one to Ronaldo.

R9 is one of the most natural goalscorers in the history of the game, scoring every single type of you goal you can imagine throughout his legendary career.

Winner: Ronaldo

5. Results

Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer Player
Ronaldo is the victor / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

After splitting the categories, we at 90min asked the public to help decide which striker was better.

And the results were pretty conclusive - 85% of voters opted for Ronaldo, with a measly 15% plumping with Van Basten!


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

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