Ronaldo vs Messi: Stage set in Riyadh for ‘The Last Dance’

Ronaldo and Messi
Ronaldo and Messi (Source: X)

Who is the G.O.A.T – Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? This is a never-ending debate. For the moment, however, they are in Riyadh, getting ready for a face-off. Ronaldo’s Saudi Pro League (SPL) side Al Nassr FC will take on Messi’s Inter Miami FC at the beautiful Kingdom Arena here in north Riyadh on Thursday.

This could be the one last time when the two greats would try to cancel each other on a football pitch. No wonder then, that the Riyadh Season’s Cup game has been labelled as ‘The Last Dance’.

Apart from Ronaldo, the SPL has brought in global football stars like Neymar, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez. A huge rise in football viewership has ensued. Saudi Arabia is trying to make its presence felt in the world of sport through different avenues. The Riyadh Season’s Cup holds a special place in the country’s sporting calendar.

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Various activities have been undertaken to brand the city, which is the capital of Saudi Arabia. Currently it has been witnessing an amalgamation of arts, culture, entertainment and sport. Global superstars have been invited. Top stars from various sporting disciplines are dropping in.

Only last month, the football world witnessed an El Clasico, the Spanish Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Barcelona in Saudi Arabia. The Italian Super Cup, too, was played here. The Riyadh Season’s Cup is the most celebrated.

This year, along with two Saudi Pro League sides, Al Hilal and Al Nassr, American giants Inter Miami have been invited. Alongside Messi, they have brought in stars like Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. If you go back to their Barcelona connection, then a contest with Ronaldo becomes even spicier because of the latter’s erstwhile Real Madrid association. Inter Miami are co-owned by David Beckham.

For Messi, this has been his second outing at the Riyadh Season’s Cup. He was here before, with Paris Saint-Germain and played against Riyadh Season’s Combined Star XI. Back to tomorrow’s game and the whole atmosphere is festive, pretty akin to the Durga Puja in Kolkata.

(Ashish Pendse is in Riyadh, covering the trip exclusively for RevSportz)

Also Read: Saudi fans love-hate relationship with Lionel Messi

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