A new chapter in the celebrated rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will unfurl on Thursday when they meet in an exhibition match as Portugal forward gears up for his first game in Saudi Arabia since joining Al Nassr.
After a glittering career in Europe that saw him win four Champions League titles with Real Madrid and two Scudettos at Juventus, Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr, describing it as the “right moment” to share his experience in Asia.
The Saudi club is the latest stop in Ronaldo’s career that began in 2002 at Sporting CP before the forward spent two spells at Manchester United, the last of which ended on a bitter note as he exited following his acrimonious split with the club.
Ronaldo and Messi, who have dominated football’s debate about the greatest of all time (GOAT) for the best part of 10 years, will face off on the pitch on Thursday for the first time since December 2020 when Juventus beat Barcelona 3-0.
Ronaldo will lead Riyadh ST XI, a team made up of players from Al Hilal and Al Nassr, against Messi’s Paris St Germain in the exhibition contest where nothing is at stake, but fans are still excited by the prospect of watching the two stars clash.
The highly anticipated showdown, which will take place at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, reportedly had more than two million online ticket requests.
The bidding for a VIP “Beyond Imagination” ticket to the match has already topped 10 million riyals ($2.66 million) in an auction that is set to end later on Tuesday.