Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: One Last Rivalry?
The Ronaldo versus Messi debate is arguably the most polarising position in football, with fans all over the world eager to stake the claim of which of the two players is the best footballer the world has ever seen. With both players in what might be their final World Cup tournament, Qatar is perhaps ground zero for the final battle between two of the best footballers to ever play the game.
The progress of both teams sets up the possibility of a dream Portugal vs Argentina World Cup final which will arguably be the culmination of one of the greatest sports rivalries of all time. However, two rounds of matches stand in their way and could prove a mountain too high for either player to surmount.
Portugal’s win over Switzerland set up a quarter-final date with Morocco, while Argentina play the Netherlands as they look to win their first World Cup title in over 35 years.
While both players navigated the group stage and got to the quarterfinals, the path has not been smooth for either. Ronaldo’s participation has been dogged by off-field distractions which culminated in the termination of his contract with Manchester United, also, his displeasure at being substituted against Korea Republic is rumoured to be the reason why he was not in the starting lineup for the round of 16 clash against Switzerland.
For Messi, the group stage got off to the worst possible start when Argentina were usurped by Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the group. However, he and his team navigated some difficult fixtures to set up a meeting in the quarter-finals against the Netherlands.
Between the two of them Lionel Messi has come closest to winning the World Cup, leading Argentina to the final in 2014 and in the 1,000th game of his career on Saturday, he went past Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo in scoring the most goals in FIFA World Cups. That was also his first knockout goal, a milestone Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to reach.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s had to make do with a place on the bench when his team faced Switzerland, 21-year old Goncalo Ramos stole the headlines, by scoring a brilliant hat-trick to lead the Portuguese side into the quarter-finals, with players likes of Joao Felix, Rafael Leao and Bruno Fernandes excelling in Ronaldo’s absence, speculations are rife that the Portugal team is better off without Ronaldo.
If this proves to be the case, it will be a shame if we get denied the showdown most fans are excited to see. However, the next generation of footballing talents stands in their way. For Argentina and Messi, the Netherlands who boast in their ranks Cody Gakpo, Frenkie De Jong and Memphis Depay are the next foes to vanquish. If things go their way they could be a potential meet-up with Brazil and PSG teammate Neymar. Brazil has had the more favourable matchup against Croatia but will be wary of the team that went all the way to the finals in Russia.
Portugal on paper have a relatively easier quarter-final fixture against Morocco who are the only African team in the quarter-finals and are the lowest-ranked team in the final 8. The Moroccans seem to be unaware of the pundit’s predictions and have already taken down two powerhouse teams – Belgium and Spain.
Cristiano Ronaldo has rejected reports that he is set to move to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia. The club have reportedly made a lucrative offer to the Portugal star, but he has rejected suggestions that an agreement has been reached between him and the club following his nation’s 6-1 win over Switzerland in the World Cup round of 16 on Tuesday. Ronaldo was dropped for Portugal’s win over Switzerland.
If Portugal will get to the final, they will not only have to beat a truly dangerous Morocco team, they will have a semifinal game against either France who have the tournament’s highest goal scorer Kylian Mbappe (bet on: Mbappe to win the golden boot @ 1.52) with 5 goals, or England who have one of their most talented teams in a long while. The three lions have two players Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford with 3 goals in the tournament and are pretty confident of their chance of winning the trophy.
Whether we eventually get the dream meeting between Ronaldo and Messi, we can be glad for the opportunity to watch these two titans battle each other over the years, and if you struggle to decide whether Team Messi or Team Ronaldo, choose both and get double of the geniuses who have helped progress the game and pave the way for the new crop of talent like Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
/ 10 months ago
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