Lionel Messi to face Cristiano Ronaldo in February 2024 | Football | Sport

Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF will travel to Saudi Arabia in February 2024 to take on Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr – possibly the last time the two superstars will face off in their illustrious careers. On Monday, it was announced by Inter Miami that the American club will travel to Riyadh during the 2024 preseason to participate in the Riyadh Season Cup. 

“This is another major opportunity to create lasting relationships with passionate fans,” Xavier Asensi, Inter Miami’s chief Business Officer, said in a statement. “We are excited to connect with new supporters in Saudi Arabia, and also hope people all over the world will be tuning in to see a pair of dream matches like these.

“These matches will offer important tests for our team, which will benefit us as we approach the new season,” Chris Henderson, Miami’s Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director, said. “We’re excited for our group to get the chance to go up against teams with as much quality as Al-Hilal and Al Nassr.”

The Riyadh Season Cup will be a part of Inter Miami’s first-ever international tour and the club will play two matches in a round-robin tournament format. On January 29, Messi and Miami will take on Al-Hilal SFC, though the main event for Inter’s visit to Saudi Arabia will happen on Feb. 1. 

For Messi and Miami’s second game, they will take on Ronaldo and Al-Nassr for what could be assumed to be the last time the two superstars face each other in their careers. Though both players have staved off Father Time as they’ve gotten older, it has to be noted that Ronaldo will be 38 – four days before his 39th birthday – and Messi will be 36 when the two face off. 

As such, there’s no telling how long the two will remain effective for their respective clubs, especially with the two being in their advanced ages. When the game was initially reported last month, it was dubbed as ‘The Last Dance’ on a promotional poster suggesting it’s expected to be the final time the two face off.

The last time Ronaldo and Messi faced off was in January 2023, when Messi and his former club PSG went to Riyadh to take on an All-Star team comprised of the best players from Al Nassr and Al-Hilal. PSG won the match, 5-4, with Messi scoring the first goal and Ronaldo scoring a brace. Despite the loss, Ronaldo was awarded the man of the match. 

Before that matchup, Ronaldo and Messi often faced each other after the Portuguese forward joined Real Madrid in 2009. The two had many noteworthy El Classico matchups when Real Madrid and Barcelona faced off against one another through the years. 

With Real Madrid, Ronaldo had four Champions League wins, two Copa del Rey crowns and two league titles. Conversely, Messi had 10 La Liga wins, seven Copa del Rey titles and four Champions League wins, like Ronaldo. After Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus, he helped the club with the Serie A title twice and the Coppa Italia in 2021. 

Meanwhile, Messi spent two years at PSG, helping the French side win League 1 twice. He then joined Inter Miami – a bottom dweller in MLS – in July 2023 and immediately made a mark, scoring 11 goals in 14 games.

Overall, Ronaldo and Messi have competed against each other 35 times in their careers. Messi has won 16 of those contests while Ronaldo has 10 wins and the remaining nine of those matches have ended in draws.

In those 35 games, Messi has scored 21 goals and has 12 assists while Ronaldo has 20 goals and one assist. With both players potentially closing in on the end of their respective careers, Messi and Ronaldo’s matchup in February could provide fans with some fireworks one last time.

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