The rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has dominated football for over two decades with the pair producing superhuman levels of brilliance and consistency.
The 2022 World Cup was billed as the final chance to see the two icons share a pitch for the final time, but it was Messi leading Argentina to glory in Qatar, while Ronaldo and Portugal were upset by Morocco in the quarterfinals.
However, they are set for a shock reunion in the coming days, as Messi and PSG travel to Saudi Arabia, to face an Al Nassr/Al Hilal select XI, captained by Ronaldo after he signed with Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr.
With their respective heydays coming during their El Clasico showdowns at Real Madrid and Barcelona, the friendly clash in Riyadh will not carry the same weight, but it could serve as the likely end to an incredible era.
MORE: When is PSG vs Al Nassr / Al Hilal XI? Ronaldo vs Messi friendly match details
Ronaldo vs Messi matches played
Ronaldo and Messi have met 34 times in club competitions in their careers, with the vast majority coming in the El Clasico showdowns in Spain. The last one came back in December 2020.
The pair have also faced each other with their international teams twice. Both occasions were international friendlies. In February 2011, Argentina beat Portugal 2-1 in Geneva, with both Ronaldo and Messi netting a goal. Portugal got their revenge in November 2014 with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, although neither player scored.
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Messi vs. Ronaldo: 36 all-time meetings
|Dec. 8, 2020||Champ. League||Barcelona 0-3 Juventus||—||2 goals|
|May 6, 2018||La Liga||Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid||1 goal||1 goal|
|Dec. 23, 2017||La Liga||Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona||—||1 goal|
|Aug. 13, 2017||Supercopa||Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid||1 goal||1 goal|
|Apr. 23, 2017||La Liga||Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona||2 goals||—|
|Dec. 3, 2016||La Liga||Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid||—||—|
|Apr. 2, 2016||La Liga||Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid||—||1 goal|
|Nov. 21, 2015||La Liga||Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona||—||—|
|Mar. 22, 2015||La Liga||Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid||—||1 goal|
|Nov. 18, 2014||Friendly||Portugal 1-0 Argentina||—||—|
|Oct. 25, 2014||La Liga||Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona||—||1 goal|
|Mar. 23, 2014||La Liga||Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona||3 goals||1 goal|
|Oct. 26, 2013||La Liga||Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid||—||—|
|Mar. 2, 2013||La Liga||Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona||1 goal||—|
|Feb. 26, 2013||Copa del Rey||Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid||—||2 goals|
|Jan. 30, 2013||Copa del Rey||Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona||—||—|
|Oct. 7, 2012||La Liga||Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid||2 goals||2 goals|
|Aug. 29, 2012||Supercopa||Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona||1 goal||1 goal|
|Aug. 22, 2012||Supercopa||Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid||1 goal||1 goal|
|Apr. 21, 2012||La Liga||Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid||—||1 goal|
|Jan. 25, 2012||Copa del Rey||Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid||—||1 goal|
|Jan. 18, 2012||Copa del Rey||Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona||—||1 goal|
|Dec. 10, 2011||La Liga||Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona||—||—|
|Aug. 17, 2011||Supercopa||Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid||2 goals||1 goal|
|Aug. 14, 2011||Supercopa||Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona||1 goal||—|
|May 3, 2011||Champ. League||Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid||—||—|
|Apr. 27, 2011||Champ. League||Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona||2 goals||—|
|Apr. 20, 2011||Copa del Rey||Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid||—||1 goal|
|Apr. 16, 2011||La Liga||Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona||1 goal||1 goal|
|Feb. 9, 2011||Friendly||Argentina 2-1 Portugal||1 goal||1 goal|
|Nov. 29, 2010||La Liga||Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid||—||—|
|Apr. 10, 2010||La Liga||Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona||1 goal||—|
|Nov. 29, 2009||La Liga||Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid||—||—|
|May 27, 2009||Champ. League||Man United 2-0 Barcelona||1 goal||—|
|Apr. 29, 2008||Champ. League||Man United 1-0 Barcelona||—||—|
|Apr. 23, 2008||Champ. League||Barcelona 0-0 Man United||—||—|
Ronaldo vs Messi goals scored
In their combined head-to-head meetings, Ronaldo has a slight edge, with 21 goals scored, compared to Messi’s haul of 20. But the final years of their career will define who retires with the best figures and the tallies at the start of 2023 could not be closer.
Messi is the highest scorer in La Liga history (474), but Ronaldo is the top scorer in Champions League history (140), compared to Messi (129), who will be looking to overtake him with Ronaldo no longer playing in Europe.
But the record that Messi will have his sights on is the one for most goals scored in the history of the sport by a male player: Ronaldo’s 819 combined goals for club and country are recognized as the world record, but Messi is not too far away on 794.
MORE: Messi is coming after Cristiano Ronaldo’s records
|Club||696 (833)||701 (949)|
|National Team||98 (172)||118 (196)|
|Total||794 (1005)||819 (1145)|
Ronaldo vs. Messi: Titles won
Messi and Ronaldo have both hoisted a host of major trophies, alongside individual honours, with the annual Ballon d’Or contest a direct shootout between the two for many years.
The most recent title for Messi, in lifting the 2022 World Cup, is arguably his greatest achievement, after ending decades of pain on the international stage with La Albiceleste.
|Domestic league titles||11||7|
|Int’l club tournaments||10||11|
|FIFA World Cup||1||0|
|Int’l titles (senior national team)||2||2|
|FIFA World Player of the Year||1||1|
|The Best FIFA Men’s Player||1||2|
|World Cup Golden Ball||1||0|
|European Golden Shoe||6||4|
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Ronaldo vs Messi in 2023
What happens next for both players appears to be a diverging of paths, as Ronaldo begins a new chapter in Saudi Arabia, and Messi aims for European glory with PSG.
Ronaldo’s decision to make the move to the Middle East has effectively drawn a line through his chances of returning to European football, despite his determination to play beyond age 40.
His legacy is well established, but there’s no telling how this next chapter could colour the public’s opinion after his explosive exit from Manchester United, and the lack of offers to remain in Europe.
Messi, on the other hand, produced one of the most iconic one-man World Cup performances, to spearhead his country to a first world title since 1986.
He looks increasingly likely to accept PSG’s offer to extend for the 2023/24 season, with Ronaldo’s records firmly in his sight after proving his enduring class in Qatar.