In what will probably be their last meeting, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo deliver a spectacular exchange of blows with their teams. The trappings, however, bring the GOAT duel to an unworthy end. A comment.
From a sporting point of view, the likely last duel between the two best footballers of our time could hardly have told a better story. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi put on strong individual performances in Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-4 triumph over the Riyadh All-Stars.
La Pulga scored after just three minutes to make it 1-0 for the Parisians, CR7 even went a step further and tied up their first brace for their new club.
And the game also had a lot to offer apart from the two superstars. Ex-Bayern defender Juan Bernat saw the red card after a little more than half an hour due to an emergency brake, the total of three penalties given, of which Neymar miserably missed one, also caused plenty of spectacle at the King Fahd International Stadium. Sure, the game was just a friendly kick. Nevertheless, the audience was offered the best entertainment.
It could have been a perfect ending to the sporting rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi that had been building over the years, were it not for the external circumstances that ultimately turned the game into a farce.
Even before the game, a report from the French L’Equipe, according to which PSG had the journey to the desert state cost a stately ten million euros for that certain taste. The fact that sports washing has now also arrived in Saudi Arabia should no longer be a secret for anyone.
Duel Messi vs. Ronaldo becomes a political staging
The scenes immediately before kick-off were similarly devastating. Hand in hand, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Saudi Arabia’s Sports Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh and Indian Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan walked onto the pitch together, with the latter insisting on handshaking each player individually .
What exactly “Big B”, as Bachchan is called in his home country, was doing there at all, can probably only be answered by the organizers themselves. If you take a look at the very positive social media response from the Indian region, you can at least guess that market policy aspects were the deciding factor here as well.
In retrospect, however, Al-Khelaifi, Al-Sheikh and Co. should hardly be interested in the fact that Bachchan seemed more than out of place at the event. True to the motto: money doesn’t stink.
The network reactions to the possibly last GOAT duel: “Juan Bernat is to blame”
The crowning moment was the final half hour of the game. The star ensemble around Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé had already been replaced at this point – for whatever reason. This prompted the authorized camera crews to simply ignore the still quite entertaining kicking on the pitch and instead filmed the top four stars on the bench for minutes.
How enthusiastic the protagonists themselves were about this action can easily be seen from Mbappé’s subsequent reaction. The 2018 world champion didn’t let himself be carried away to more than a tired wink for the camera. Bock on the event looks different.
In this way, a sports event that is actually interesting in terms of the general conditions is once again the target of political staging. If it was actually the last meeting of the two GOATs, many fans will remember an entertaining kick.
But it was not a worthy end to the decades-long rivalry between perhaps the best footballers in history.