Soccer: a clash of titans in the desert

There’s Ali and Frazier, Prost and Senna, Borg and McEnroe or even Federer and Nadal. But for many sports fans, there is no rivalry close to Ronaldo-Messi.

• Also read: Messi v Ronaldo: Saudi tycoon pays $2.6m for ticket

• Also read: Ronaldo will receive 400 million euros in Saudi Arabia

Why this preamble? It’s simple because Cristiano Ronaldo will face Lionel Messi in a gala match tomorrow in Saudi Arabia. After Thunder in the Forest between Ali and Foreman, the fight in the desert between Messi and Ronaldo.

It will be the Portuguese’s first game since signing a big contract with Saudi club Al-Nassr last month.

For the occasion, he will be part of a star team built from his formation of Al-Nassr and the Al-Hilal club. They will face Messi and Paris Saint-Germain in Riyadh.


Before moving on, we should recall what the 37-year-old Portuguese striker is doing in Saudi Arabia, he who fell out of favor with Manchester United last autumn before leaving by slamming the door before the FIFA Cup. world.

Things didn’t get any better for him in Qatar where he played as a substitute in Portugal. We think he still has a good holiday season knowing what he will receive the day before the broadcast of goodbye.

Ronaldo effectively broke the bank by putting his name under a contract worth 400 million euros (C$575 million) on December 30. He said he wanted to secure his family’s future.

But this contract has the particularity that it is not just sports. Ronaldo will receive 200 million euros (C$287.5 million) to play with Al-Nassr for two and a half years. The other half will be paid to him as the ambassador of the joint candidacy submitted by Saudi Arabia, Greece and Egypt to host the 2030 World Cup.

It is necessary

Of course, there is this face-to-face between the two eternal rivals, but also the presence of other World Cup heroes that attract attention.

In fact, PSG is almost a star team as it also includes Kylian Mbappé, failed finalist in Qatar, and Neymar. When we tell you it’s a gala match.

No one was surprised to learn that we snagged tickets to attend the event taking place less than 600 kilometers west from where all these beautiful people had been separated there for almost a month.

According to ESPN, there was a virtual queue of more than two million people to buy tickets online. Not sure the World Cup has ever experienced this much traffic.


The rivalry between the two players exists more in the minds of the media and fans than between them.

This stems from the fact that they spent the best years of their careers competing against each other. In fact, for nine seasons, we saw Ronaldo in a Real Madrid jersey while Messi wore the colors of FC Barcelona.

We add to that the fact that they are the two best players of their era and we have all the ingredients to bring out the passions.

Mentioning Ronaldo’s name in front of Messi fans is enough for the invectives to start and vice versa when someone dares to utter the Argentinian’s name in front of Portuguese supporters. There are very few rivalries that generate as much passion in the world of contemporary football.

The battle in numbers


June 24, 1987 | 35 years | Rosario, Argentina

Lionel Messi and other stars of Paris Saint-Germain are eagerly awaited in Riyadh.

Photo archives, AFP

Lionel Messi and other stars of Paris Saint-Germain are eagerly awaited in Riyadh.

Professional since 2004

  • Annual salary: US$62 million (C$83 million)
  • Sponsorship wages: US$48 million (C$64.3 million)
  • Sponsors: Adidas, Ooredoo, Gatorade, Lays, Huawei, Hawkers, Mastercard, Pepsi, Jacob & Co, Mengniu Dairy,, Bidget, Mengniu.


  • 2004-2021 FC Barcelona : 672 goals
  • 2021- Paris Saint Germain : 24 goals

national team

Club records

FC Barcelona : 35 tracks

League: 10

  • 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019

Copa del Rey: 7

  • 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 202

Spanish Super Cup: 8

  • 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018

Champions League: 4

UEFA Super Cup: 3

Club World Cup: 3

Paris Saint Germain : 2 titles

League 1

Champion’s trophy

Achievements in Argentina

  • Winner of the 2022 World Cup
  • Finalist in 2014

Copa America

  • Winner in 2021
  • Finalist in 2007, 2015, 2016


Under 20 World Cup

Olympic Games

Individual awards

Ballon d’Or

  • 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021

FIFA World Player


February 5, 1985 | 37 years | Funchal, Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo will play his first Al-Nassr game since leaving Manchester United.

Photo archives, AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo will play his first Al-Nassr game since leaving Manchester United.

Professional since 2002

  • Annual salary: US$75 million (C$100.4 million)
  • Sponsorship wages: €60 million (CA$86.7 million)
  • Sponsors: Nike, Clear, Altice/SFR, DAZN, Electronic Arts, MTG, Herbalife, Meo, American Tourister, Castrol Edge, Abbott, Pestana, Dubai Holding, Exness, Sixpad, Yamamay, Xtrad, Panzer Glass, ZujuGP, Therabody


  • 2002-2003 Sporting CP: 5 goals
  • 2003-2009 Manchester United : 118 goals
  • 2009-2018 Real Madrid : 450 goals
  • 2018-2021 Juventus FC: 101 goals
  • 2021-2022 Manchester United : 27 goals
  • 2023 – Am Nassr FC: 0 goals

national team

Club records

Manchester United : 9 titles

Premier League: 3

FA Cup

Football League Cup: 2

FA Community Shield

Champions League

Club World Cup

Real Madrid : 15 tracks

La Liga: 2

Copa del Rey: 2

Spanish Super Cup: 2

Champions League: 4

UEFA Super Cup: 2

Club World Cup: 3

Juventus: 5 titles

Series A: 2

Italian Cup

Italian Super Cup

Achievements in Portugal

  • Winner of Euro 2016
  • Winner of the 2019 Nations League

Individual awards

Ballon d’Or

  • 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017

FIFA World Player

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