Football fans tend to love one or the other. They constantly ask who is better... 'Messi, his goalscoring record is unbeatable and his effortless demeanour is sumptuous to watch'.
Or: 'No, Ronaldo, he works harder for the team, scores better goals and has shined in a less successful side over the past few years.'
But on Saturday evening, in the most important game of the season so far, for once eyes weren't solely cast on them.
Lionel Messi (right) looks frustrated during the El Clasico match as Cristiano Ronaldo (left) lurks
Ronaldo looks frustrated after Real Madrid go 1-0 down but the former United player soon got his goal
Luis Suarez's return to football took most of the headlines pre-game, and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could shine when only half the attention was on them.
In terms of direct impact on the game, in the first-half Ronaldo scored from the spot and Messi missed from just seven yards with most of the goal to aim at - Real had Iker Casillas to thank.
Otherwise, the Portuguese superstar was quiet. Our expectations are sky high, but he was not hugely involved with the other goals in the 3-1 win at the Bernabeu.
This wasn't the Ronaldo of the Champions League final in 2014. 3-1 up against Atletico Madrid, Ronaldo was desperate to star in Lisbon, and scored the penalty in extra-time before ripping off his shirt and producing every back page the next day.
Messi's effort is brilliantly saved by Casillas in the Real Madrid net, with Barcelona 1-0 up
Barcelona held the lead until the 35th minute after Neymar's early goal in the El Clasico tie against Real Madrid
On Saturday night he was uncharacteristically unselfish.
Some passes went astray in the final third and Real's other stars shone. Three or four times he got himself in dangerous positions with the ball on the counter attack, passing without looking only to find a Barca man.
On Saturday night, it was the Real Madrid show, not the CR9 show. His performance looked a 7/10 at the very, very most.
Ronaldo takes his penalty in the 35th minute to bring Real level in the El Clasico tie against Barcelona
At the other end, as Barcelona chased the game, Messi tried his trademark runs with the ball several times, each time legally halted by the Real defence.
A passage of play on the right byline for Messi, summed up Messi's night. He twisted, turned and gained a couple yards on Marcelo beautifully, but his cross was deflected into the grateful hands of Casillas. He was a 6/10.
For the Argentine it was frustrating night, but his rival didn't steal the headlines either.
Ronaldo goes to his usual celebration after scoring against Barcelona to bring the teams level before half-time