Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Football legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are set to face each other one more time in Saudi Arabia in February next year.
The duo recently faced each other on the football pitch earlier in January this year when Messi's Paris Saint-Germain locked horns with Riyadh All-Stars XI with the former securing a 5-4 victory in the Kingdom.
Many believe that it would mark the final time Messi and Ronaldo shared a pitch as they near the end of their careers on different continents.
Both strikers have dominated international football for more than ten years with Ronaldo winning his first of five Ballon d'Or awards in 2008 Over the next 14 years, he and Messi have shared the prestigious trophy 12 times.
Ronaldo, who plays for Saudi club Al Nassr will face Messi's Inter Miami in a pre-season friendly match titled "The Last Dance" — a homage to their probable final clash on the football pitch — ahead of the 2024 Major League Soccer season.
Messi, aged 36, made his mark primarily at Barcelona, while Ronaldo, aged 38, reached great heights at fierce rivals Real Madrid after transferring from Manchester United in 2009.
Ideally, their farewell match would have been in the World Cup or Champions League, fitting stages for their stature in the sport. However, the Riyadh Season Cup offers a definitive conclusion to their long-standing rivalry on the field.
Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid in 2009 put them on opposing sides for one of Europe's major derbies for nine seasons.
Fans endlessly debated who was superior, but Messi's record eight Ballon d'Ors and Argentina's 2022 World Cup victory have likely settled that argument.
The upcoming friendly in February will undoubtedly reignite discussions comparing Messi and Ronaldo's legacies.