Messi and Ronaldo set to renew rivalry in Champions League - GulfToday

Messi and Ronaldo set to renew rivalry in Champions League


Lionel Messi in action during a match. File

Gulf Today Report

Madrid: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are all set to enthrall the football fans across the globe once again as the two titans face off in Champions League match on Tuesday.

Barcelona will host Juventus in the round of the last 16 match of the continental tournament.

Both Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the game ever since making their appearance on the international stage for over a decade.

They shared the prestigious Ballon d’Or between 2008-2017, before Ronaldo made a move to Juventus in 2018.

After the Portuguese forward arrived from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009, El Clasico became synonymous with his rivalry with Barcelona captain Messi.

Since Ronaldo’s departure, the fixture has lost some of its glamour, leaving the football world eager for the pair to be pitted against each other again.

Those hopes were frustrated earlier in the group phase, with Ronaldo missing Barcelona’s 2-0 win in Turin after testing positive for Covid-19. Messi scored with a penalty. They are poised to meet again this week.

Both sides have already qualified for the last 16 from Group G but Juventus can overtake Barcelona if they win at Camp Nou by three goals or more, or by any two-goal margin other than 2-0. Ronaldo and Messi are in the latter phases of their careers, at 35 and 33 respectively, but both retain their elite status.

Messi has six Ballons d’Or to his name and is the current holder, while Ronaldo finished third in the 2019 awards, boasting five.

He is thriving in Italy, having quickly become key for Juventus, who presented him with a commemorative shirt on Saturday to recognise his 750th career goal, ahead of a 2-1 win over neighbours Torino.

“Ronaldo is the top player for mentality,” his former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri told The Times.

“Ronaldo has a different head to everyone. He’s won five Ballons d’Or, five Champions Leagues and one European Championship for Portugal, and that is so difficult, and it’s always him making the difference. Every year he has a new objective.”

Ronaldo netted 21 goals in his debut season for Allegri to take Juventus to the title, followed by 31 last season under Maurizio Sarri as they lifted the Scudetto for the 36th time.

With eight goals in six appearances this season for Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down. By contrast, Messi is struggling in Spain.

The Barcelona forward tried to escape this summer but his club refused to let him leave and Messi appears an uncomfortable fit in new coach Ronald Koeman’s tactical plans, and far from his decisive best.

Barcelona are enduring their worst start to a league season for 33 years and Messi’s inconsistency is part of the problem, with four goals in 10 appearances and two of those from the penalty spot.

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