Last summer, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo opted to relocate to new teams to continue to fight for the Champions League crown. They both came up with the thought of continuing to compete for the Champions League title. As the season went, it became evident that they were both still at the top of their game, but neither was at the very top.
Even though they were both reportedly on their way to star-studded teams like PSG and Manchester United, the reality is that none of those teams would achieve anything if they didn’t excel. Last week, Messi’s absence versus Real Madrid proved to be a powerful statement. Cristiano Ronaldo performed the same thing today at Old Trafford against Atletico Madrid. The days when these two footballing behemoths dominated European football are long gone.
As we all watch them drift away, simply their memories remain. Other players, such as Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, are now assuming control. We shall never give up hope that they will be capable of leading their respective clubs to another title as long as they remain active. This season, though, served as a wake-up call for the two players who are often regarded as the best of all time. None of them was key players for their clubs, and none of them has ever produced the kind of stats we’re used to seeing every season. Both players, however, continue to offer a ray of optimism.
Messi and Ronaldo nevertheless have one more big tournament to prove they are not done after this season’s Champions League heartbreak. For Leo, Argentina has already qualified for the World Cup after easily defeating Conmebol opponents. Only Brazil outperformed them throughout the South American qualifying stage. Ronaldo’s road to the December competition in Qatar will be much tougher. Portugal must first defeat Turkey on March 24 and then await the result of the match between Italy and North Macedonia. They would have to play a finale on March 29 if they advance to the Play-Offs finals. If Cristiano Ronaldo’s country qualifies for the World Cup, it will be their final appearance together.