RIYADH SEASON CUP
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: who comes out on top in official confrontations?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will face each other again in what will surely be the “Last dance” of this historic rivalry.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will face each other again in what could really be a ‘last dance’ between the two, since it is very unlikely that Inter Miami and Al-Nassr will clash again in official or unofficial competition. The Riyadh Season Cup 2024 has made it possible for the Argentinean and Portuguese to face each other for one final time after inviting the Las Garzas to take part in the tournament at the start of the New Year.
Clearly, the news paralyzed the world of football, as many assumed that last year’s friendly match between PSG (when Messi was still on board) and a Riyadh Season All-Star XI with Cristiano Ronaldo making his debut, would be the last confrontation between the two stars.
Messi against Cristiano in official confrontations: the balance
Those who for many are the two best footballers of all time, have faced each other in a total of 36 official matches. The first meeting, in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final between Manchester United and Barcelona in April 2008 ended without goals. Neither Messi nor Cristiano found the target in the return - that honor went to Paul Scholes with a thunderbolt into the top corner.
United and Barça crossed paths again in the same competition the following season - this time, in the final. Messi was the first to score at the start of this particular, individual contest which would blossom into one of the biggest rivalries in the history of the game when Cristiano signed for Barcelona’s eternal foes, Real Madrid in 2009.
The pair were both involved in a total of 29 Clásicos - Messi was on the winning side in 14 of those encounters; Cristiano won eight of those games and scored a total of 20 goals against the Catalans compared to Messi’s overall tally of 26 from 45 Clásicos - 19 of them when Cristiano was also on the pitch. The Madrid forward is just behind with 17 goals against Messi’s Barça.
At international level, they have met just twice. Ronaldo cancelled out Ángel Di María’s opener in a friendly between Portugal and Argentina at Stade de Genève in February 2011 but Messi hit a late winner from the spot. Portugal got their revenge the next time they met, also in a friendly at Cristiano’s old stomping ground Old Trafford in November 2014. Both only played the first 45 minutes as Raphaël Guerreiro’s last-minute header decided it.
The balance of victories tilts in favor of the Inter Miami star, recent world champion with Argentina and winner of the 2023 Ballon d’Or, however, at 38 years of age, Cristiano Ronaldo is fighting at the top to be the top scorer in the calendar year, in addition to being the greatest scorer in the history of football.
In February, another great game awaits us between Inter Miami and Al-Nassr, a new and possibly the last time that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will appear together on the same pitch. The world will come to a standstill to see, once again, the duel between two of the game’s greats.