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Messi or Mbappe: Who Wins One-On-One?

(by Steve Hopkins)

Experts across the world are carefully analyzing the upcoming World Cup 2022  Final matchup between Argentina and France – and between the premiere players of each squad, Lionel Messi for Argentina and Kylian Mbappe for France.  Over the last few days, I have seen betting lines that give Argentina a slight edge.  Much of the focus of the experts as they break down the game as been the likelihood that Messi or Mbappe will have opportunity to shoot more (betting odds are over/under 3.5 times), the likelihood of either Messi or Mbappe to win the Golden Boot as the tournament’s best offensive player, and of course – the direct comparison of which superstar will score more goals (each has scored 5 thus far at the World Cup).

As other experts are carefully breaking down small details, we at Butterfly are here to throw our hats into the analysis sphere as well – only we are going to focus on what is most important – table tennis skills previously exhibited by these two stars.

The tale of the tape:  At 5′ 7″, the very quick Lionel Messi has a body type that would be compatible with table tennis.  Most of our top players are a little taller (Fan Zhendong is 5’8″, Ma Long is 5’9″, Tomokazu Harimoto is 5’10”), but at 5’7″ his small frame is not a major disadvantage.  Kylian Mbappe is larger at 5’10” but also fast and slender and quick.  This is probably a wash – but we’ll give a slight advantage to Mbappe for reach.

Both players come from a country with a solid professional presence in table tennis – likely expanding their exposure to our sport.  France has seven players in the World’s Top 100 (with well-known names like Gauzy, Lebesson, and the Lebrun brothers).  Argentina only has one player in the Top 100 (Horacio Cifuentes), but also has Santiago Lorenzo and Gaston Alto who are both in the top 120.  Advantage to Mbappe.

Going with general Google references – “kylian mbappe ping pong” brings up 185,000 results, and “kylian mbappe table tennis” is well over 10 million but there is a mixed comparison here as “lionel messi ping pong” brings up 572,000 results, but “lionel messi table tennis” is well under 10 million.  There is a slight advantage here to Lionel Messi.

The key comparison is video evidence – and there are actual videos of both players.  In fact, in 2019 Messi posted trick shot videos.  That said, there are clearly more videos and photos of Mbappe at the table.  He has a commercial that merges table tennis and soccer, and there is video of a competitive point showing off some real talent (and then following him through his celebration after winning the point).

It is our expert opinion that in a one-on-one match – the likely winner would be Kylian Mbappe.

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