Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will meet again on Thursday when Paris Saint-Germain take on an all-star team composed of Al Nassr and Al Hilal players in Saudi Arabia. With the Argentine world champion a PSG player and the Portuguese talisman now playing his trade in the Saudi Pro League, the world will be treated to another instalment of arguably the greatest individual soccer rivalry of the modern era.
Here’s our look at their rivalry, how you can watch this match and more:
How to watch and odds
- Date: Thursday, Jan. 19 | Time: 12:00 p.m. ET (midday)
- Location: King Fahd international Stadium — Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- TV: beIN Sports USA | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Why are Messi and CR7 meeting?
Messi plays for PSG who are going to Saudi Arabia as part of their latest winter tour. Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr recently who are one of the two Saudi sides which will contribute towards the all-star team. This will not be considered the Portuguese star’s debut for his new club as he is not strictly playing for Al Nassr. The all-star team will be coached by guest boss Marcelo Gallardo and not Al Nassr head coach Rudi Garcia.
Why in Saudi Arabia?
This game was originally supposed to take place in early 2022 but PSG’s tour had to be postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. At that time, Messi played for PSG, but Ronaldo was still in Europe with Manchester United. However, the contracts signed for this tour remained valid which is why PSG were obliged to return as part of their latest visit to Qatar which has since hosted the FIFA World Cup which Messi won with Argentina.
Will this be their last meeting?
It is possible that this is the final time that we see these two going up against each other on the pitch. Their last meeting came in late 2020 when Juventus thrashed Barcelona 3-0 and Ronaldo scored two penalties so these face-offs are becoming increasingly rarer since the height of their rivalry in La Liga. Never say never, but there is no guarantee that these two play in the same league again so this could well be their last dance as adversaries.
Classic Messi vs. Ronaldo battles
The obvious head-to-head between Messi and Ronaldo has been the Ballon d’Or which the Argentina has won seven times to the Portuguese’s five. Messi could yet add to his collection after triumphing in Qatar but there is less confidence that Ronaldo will extend his set beyond the five that he already has. It is probably safe to say that Messi has won this one.
Aug. 2011 — Barca beat Real 3-2 in the Supercopa second leg with Messi scoring twice and Ronaldo tallying once. It was not the most important of games, but a Clasico remains a Clasico and it foreshadowed the explosive growth of their rivalry on the global stage.
Oct. 2012 — Both players scored twice in a 2-2 draw in La Liga which included a sensational Messi free-kick. Barca were dominant that season, but Real held their own in this one at Camp Nou and it was the perfect illustration of how El Clasico became just about them at one point — the biggest rivalry in soccer in a collective and individual sense.
Mar. 2014 — A 4-3 win for Barca away at Real in a Clasico for the ages with Messi scoring three times and assisting the visitors’ other goal and Ronaldo scoring once for the beaten hosts. Santiago Bernabeu witnessed greatness that night with Karim Benzema, Neymar, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Ramos just some of the supporting cast on an unforgettable night.
May 2018 — Their final meeting in Barca and Real colors, each scored once in a 2-2 draw just before Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus signaled the end of their dual La Liga dominance.