The endless debate to determine who is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi can finally come to an end. Scientists believe that the question will finally be answered, after the invention of a new supercomputer that can use a complex formula to analyze the two players.

According to a report by Sporza, Belgian scientists from KU Leuven University are claiming that their formula is an accurate way to compare the skills of these two football legends. The project was done in partnership with Dutch data experts SciSports.

Jesse Davis, a professor at the university, said: "The value of a soccer player is often determined by goals and assists." The question is, how different is their approach from just an analysis of statistics? If we are just talking about goals and assists, this data is already readily available but the debate continues.

"A goal is a rare event, however, because an average of 1,600 actions are estimated to occur in a match. Our model looks at each action – shots, passes, dribbles, tackles – and calculates its value," explained Davis.

Basically, the formula gives weight to every action that a player does on the pitch. This allows the analysis to go further beyond obvious data like goal tallies and other similar statistics. In other words, the player's overall impact to the game is taken into account.

Based on the supercomputer's analysis, Ronaldo and Messi were pretty much on equal footing during a big chunk of their early career. However, the computer determined that Messi pulled away from Ronaldo in the 2015/16 season.

The researchers claim that a player's position and playing style are taken into consideration. Some players, for example midfielders, have a tendency to have a higher number of actions with less value. However, strikers or keepers may interact with the ball a lot less but these actions may be of higher value. To put things into perspective, a player who scores one goal from 50 touches essentially makes a bigger impact compared to a player who makes 200 passes and not much else.

This is why the Argentine came out ahead. "Messi is exceptional in this area: the Argentinian has a very high number of actions and they also have a high value," said PhD student Tom Decroos, who was part of the research team.

In the end, the supercomputer gave Messi an average rating of 1.21 per game while Ronaldo is down at 0.61. The question is, will football fans around the world accept this analysis?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
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