For PSG’s brief trip to Saudi Arabia, Lionel Messi and his crew will play a friendly this Thursday (18:00) against a selection of the best players from the country’s two top clubs: Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. Cristiano Ronaldo, new star of Al Nassr and designated captain of the team that will face Paris, will play his first match since his spectacular arrival in Saudi Arabia. Of very relative sporting interest, this match is above all the symbol of the end of an era, of a page in the history of football that is turning.
Messi (35) and Ronaldo (37) will play their 37th and possible last H2H at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh. A look at the five most memorable matches between these two absolute legends of football, protagonists of a rivalry that has lasted fifteen years.
27 May 2009: meeting on the roof of Europe
Manchester United and FC Barcelona meet again in the Champions League final, one year after their last clash which led to the Catalan club’s elimination in the semi-finals (1-0). In front of the Red Devils, holders of the title, the Blaugrana appeared thirsty for revenge. In a packed Olympic Stadium, Ronaldo, Ballon d’Or winner a few months earlier, and Messi face off for the third time. CR7 and the Mancunians have a few chances before being cooled down by Samuel Eto’o in the 10th minute.
The two teams return to the locker room with a score of 1 to 0. While Ronaldo misses the win, Messi, hidden behind Ferdinand, surprises everyone and with an unstoppable head, mystifies Van der Sar. End of the game, 2-0, Messi eclipses CR7 and the Catalans win the third Champions League in their history.
April 27, 2011: in 10 minutes Messi annihilates Ronaldo and Real Madrid
The semi-final of this edition of the Champions League sees Real Madrid and FC Barcelona face off ten years after their last encounter on the most prestigious stage. Ronaldo’s Real, beaten 5-0 by Messi’s Barça at the start of the season, are vengeful. At the Santiago Bernabéu the match promises to be played and neither team manages to open the scoring until the 76th minute when Messi arrives, ahead of Sergio Ramos, to take over from the left from Ibrahim Afellay’s cross.
Madrid, left at 10 by Pepe’s dismissal at the start of the match, will try to equalize before “La Pulga”, this time on a ball dropped by Busquets in the 86th minute, fails to pick up five players to drop the ball into the back of the net. An anthology goal and an unforgettable individual performance, this match is clearly marked by Leo Messi’s paw.
October 7, 2012: two everywhere, ball in the center
For the first time in fourteen years, the Spanish league offers thousands of spectators around the world a Clasico at the Camp Nou from the 7th day of La Liga. For both clubs, this match is an opportunity to start the season well but also to slow down the start of that of the historic rival. For Messi and Ronaldo too, it’s about setting the tone for next season. It was the Portuguese who opened the scoring from the left in the 22nd minute before being caught by his Argentine nemesis eight minutes later, 1-1.
Back from the changing rooms, in the 60th minute, Messi put his team ahead with a sumptuous free-kick that only he has the secret of. Like their rivalry, the two stars go head-to-head and this time it’s up to Ronaldo to respond. He also scored his second goal of the match just five minutes after his rival’s. The two teams go out on a score of 2-2 in a meeting where the two phenomena are neutralized.
April 23, 2017: iconic celebration after an unreal match
Santiago Bernabéu, 33rd day of Liga decisive for the race for the title. Real Madrid welcome their old enemy in a match that promises to be historic. From the very beginning of the match, Messi is spinning. Five minutes after Casemiro’s advantage, he slips into the Madrid area and deceives Keylor Navas from the left. Ronaldo picks it up, one of his only actions of the match. Alone against Ter Stegen, he leans too much on the ball and his shot ends up in the stands. Barça took the lead through Rakitic before James Rodriguez leveled the two sides in the 85th minute.
On 10 against 11 (Ramos sent off at the start of the game) the Madrilenos thought they could keep the equalizer when, after extra time, Messi unleashed an unstoppable shot that sanctioned the outcome of the match. The Madrileños are down. Messi, standing in front of amazed spectators at the Bernabéu, celebrates his 500th goal in Barça colors by showing them his shirt.
August 13, 2017: Pride shot by Cristiano Ronaldo
The Camp Nou hosts the final of the Spanish Super Cup which pits FC Barcelona against Real Madrid, champions of Spain against champions of Europe. Four months after the last minute victory of the Barcelonans that led them to the title, Ronaldo and the people of Madrid take their revenge.
While Messi holds up, his Portuguese rival starts the match on the bench. The first goal of the game came in the 49th minute when Piqué tricked his goalkeeper with a deflected cross. Barça equalized on penalty in the 76th minute thanks to the rather discreet Argentine genius up to that moment. Cristiano Ronaldo, who came on a few minutes earlier, with a superb shot entering the penalty area will bring Real Madrid back just four minutes after Leo Messi’s goal.
Stricken with pride by the defeat against the Argentine opponent four months earlier, CR7 responds by reproducing the same exultation in front of the Camp Nou fans. His exultation earned him a first yellow card and he collected a second, synonymous with expulsion, a few minutes later. At 10 against 11, Real ended up winning 3-1.