Saudi All-Star XI vs PSG: Will Messi & Ronaldo ever play each other again?

Euan Burns
The pair faced off in Saudi Arabia in a friendly
The pair faced off in Saudi Arabia in a friendly / Yasser Bakhsh/GettyImages

It's an individual rivalry that so many spent their formative years watching. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi, the endless playground and office debate that rolled on for so long as each posted more and more ridiculous numbers that had never been seen before.

With Messi being 35 years old and Ronaldo being 37, the height of that rivalry is far behind. Many will say that it was put to bed when within a calendar month of each other, Messi lifted the World Cup with Argentina and Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia after having his Manchester United contract terminated.

They faced each other again in Saudi Arabia on Thursday evening though as part of Paris Saint-Germain's unusually timed tour of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

How did Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do in Saudi Arabia?

The friendly featured PSG up against a squad of the best players in the Saudi Pro League, meaning Ronaldo and Messi were both on the pitch and they both started the game in Riyadh.

Within three minutes, Messi put PSG ahead as he latched onto a ball over the top and finished calmly. Not to be overshadowed, Ronaldo soon won a penalty after being clattered in the air by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas and the Portuguese forward dispatched that spot kick calmly.

Surprisingly for a friendly, Juan Bernat then got himself sent off for a tackle as the last man which swung the game in Ronaldo's favour. Marquinhos quickly put PSG back in front but Ronaldo got his second of the game after the break as he fired in the rebound after his header hit the post.

A player who had a front-row seat for Ronaldo and Messi's rivalry in Spain for almost the whole thing is Sergio Ramos, and he then got on the score sheet to make it 3-2 to PSG. Jang Hyun-soo soon made became 3-3 and then Messi won a penalty as he fired a shot which hit the hand of a defender. Mbappe tucked that away.

Hugo Ekitike made it 5-3 to PSG and Anderson Talisca made sure the game ended 5-4. That means two goals for Ronaldo, and one for Messi, but Messi was on the winning team.

Planet League's Rich Holmes & Sustainable Clarets' Cat Jebson join Shebahn Aherne to have football's climate conversation ahead of Green Football Weekend.

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Will Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo face each other again?

It seems highly unlikely at this stage that Ronaldo will return to Europe to face Messi in the Champions League or any domestic league. The move to Saudi Arabia feels terminal in that regard.

Beyond any sort of engineered friendlies, there is actually a genuine chance they could face each other again. We know that Ronaldo will keep playing until he is legally ordered not to.

If he were to stay in Saudi Arabia, do not rule out Messi joining him. The Argentine may be too good right now, but don't forget he is over two years younger than Ronaldo. He is also the tourism ambassador for Saudi Arabia and the idea of him ending his career out there is far from implausible.

Not only does that keep the idea of them facing each other again alive, it actually suggests there could be a chance of them playing in the same team if he were to join Al Nassr, the biggest club in the league. It is not beyond the Saudi Arabian government to engineer this situation, and they will be more than aware of the attention it will bring to their league and, by extension, their country.