Messi-Ronaldo, two twilights at the antipodes

TO ANALYZE – Clashing this Thursday (18:00) in Saudi Arabia, in a friendly match, the two giants have a new opportunity to cross swords. The last one ?

Gala poster, clash of giants. Beyond any sporting considerations, PSG, who have been in difficulty since the end of the World Cup, will face this Thursday (18:00, on Playing sports) a selection of players from two Saudi clubs, Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr, in Riyadh. And this in the context of a mini-tour with commercial and diplomatic accents in the Gulf, in Qatar and then in Saudi Arabia. “No mood» for Christophe Galtier, a philosopher when he honors this commitment «which goes back to last year“. “As manager of Al-Nassr, I can’t be happy with that game. We have a league meeting three days later. In terms of programming, it could have been better thought out“, plague Rudi Garcia, with less wooden language in the newspaper The group. A match that will still have an interest, and last but not least: that of pitting the Parisian Leo Messi against the new spearhead of Al-Nassr, Cristiano Ronaldo.

A new clash between the two giants of world football, perhaps the last knowing that CR7 has turned his back on European football after a failed comeback at Manchester United and a painful World Cup with Portugal. The sunset of the five-time Portuguese Ballon d’Or is nothing short of painful, almost embarrassing at times, from his spats with Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford to his substitute status and his tears on the Qatar pitch.

Ronaldo’s tears, Messi’s consecration

Of course, this does not detract from Ronaldo’s brilliant career. But the contrast is nothing short of striking while, at the same time, his perennial Argentine rival is still playing at a very high level. This could be doubted at the end of Pulga’s first year in Paris, who clearly raised the bar during the first part of the season with PSG before leading Argentina to the top of the world in Qatar. All before discussing a contractual extension with the Parisian top management, even if those of Al-Hilal dream of attracting him… to Saudi Arabia. Messi will be free next June.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi clashed in late 2020, with Juventus Turin and FC Barcelona respectively, in the C1 group stage. ALBERTO GEA/REUTERS

Two rooms, two atmospheres. And this while the two thieves have been navigating the same spheres for so long. Big difference. Referring to a playeramazing, magical, fantastic“, the former Madrid player did not fail to mention that they”shared the stage for 16 yearsa few weeks ago, in an interview with Piers Morgan. “I have a great relationship with him, I respect him a lot, he’s a good guy who does great things for football“, he still indicated. Rivals, yes. Enemies, no. “It’s been a long time since we’ve played in the same championship, Messi reminded Marca just over a year ago. We competed individually and as a team for the same goals. It was a very nice stage for us and also for the people because they really appreciated it. It is a beautiful memory that will remain in the history of football.“For one evening, on the lawn of the King Fahd Stadium, these memories will therefore flow into the present. Tasty.

36 duels between the two giants

All this, 15 years after the first duel between the two men. It was the spring of 2008, during a Champions League semi-final won by Ronaldo’s Manchester United against Messi’s Barça (0-0, 1-0). Of course, the Funchal native’s move to Real Madrid in 2009 took the rivalry to another dimension. In total, they have met directly 36 times, including 16 wins for Messi (22 goals, 12 assists), nine draws and 11 wins for Ronaldo (21 goals, 1 assist). Incidentally, CR7 rose to the ranks of top scorer (140) and best passer (48) in the Champions League, with five crowns, ahead of Pulga (129 goals and 45 assists, 4 titles), the latter having taken a great lead in the number of Golden Balls (7 against 5). And it might not be over…

This time, Ronaldo-Messi, it will be for the butter, for the revelry. Not without interest, even if both would undoubtedly prefer to work calmly in view of the deadlines to come. As for Lionel Messi and his companions, Wednesday was an opportunity to honor a number of commitments with partners before a training session at the Khalifa Stadium. “We feel at home here in Qatar. We were very well received and placed in the best conditions. This warmth brought by our fans will inspire us for the rest of the season“, assures the captain of PSG, Marquinhos, through the media of the club. A season that could allow 35-year-old Messi to continue writing his legend on the European courts. Two years his senior, Ronaldo will already try to close his career worthily and give prestige to a booming Saudi championship. A promotional mission also carried out by the Argentine, appointed ambassador of Saudi tourism last year. Forever linked.

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