Lionel Messi scored all of Argentina’s goals in the friendly match against Estonia, which the South Americans won 5-0 on Sunday. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t doing too badly himself: the Portuguese star scored twice to contribute to the 4-0 beating of Switzerland in the Nations League. With just months left until the World Cup in Qatar, fans are wondering if this is going to be their showdown.
Messi didn’t enjoy a fruitful season at the club level. Since joining Paris Saint-Germain last August, the seven-time ‘Ballon d’Or’ winner scored 11 goals and provided 14 assists in 34 games. Messi only lifted the French Ligue 1 title at the end of the campaign, with fans booing him and his friend Neymar after PSG’s early exit in the Champions League Round of 16. Despite rumors suggesting he’s either plotting a comeback to Barcelona or a move to Inter Miami, Messi rubbished claims, as he’s set to stay at Parc des Princes at least until the summer of 2023 when his current deal runs out.
Ronaldo’s numbers have been better than Messi’s, but Manchester United’s season was dismal and ended in depression. Ronaldo scored 24 goals and assisted three in 39 matches, but United failed to reach any of their objectives. He was also considering an exit, but newly-appointed boss Erik ten Hag told him he’s part of his plans for next year.
Thanks to his two goals against Switzerland on Sunday, Ronaldo has now netted 117 times at the international level. He’s moving further ahead in the record books, as he leads the all-time top scorers’ list. With 86 goals, Messi just climbed over Ferenc Puskas and is now fourth, two goals behind Malaysian legend Mokhtar Dahari, who’s third. Iranian icon Ali Daei is still far away on 109 goals.
Messi and Ronaldo keep starring for their national teams
Despite finding it difficult to adapt to new realities last season, Messi and Ronaldo kept delivering at the international level. For both, the World Cup in Qatar will be their fifth, and possibly, final one. Messi is expected to make a formal announcement regarding his retirement from the national team after Qatar, whereas Ronaldo said he’s dreaming of a record sixth World Cup in 2026 when he’ll be 41.
Argentina is part of Group C at the World Cup, alongside Poland, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Argentina, who were the Copa America winners in 2021, has impressed recently in Finalissima, the game opposing UEFA and CONMEBOL champions. The South American national team beat Italy 3-0, with Messi being named player of the match. Argentina is at -225 to win Group C at the World Cup, ahead of Poland at +350. Messi’s team stands at +400 to play the final, and at +900 to win it.
Portugal leads the odds race in Group H. They are at -157 to finish on top, with Uruguay at +250 and South Korea at +800. Ghana is the outsider in the group. The African Black Stars are at +1000 to go through as the group leaders, and at +260 to qualify from second place. Portugal is at +500 to play the final of the World Cup and at +1200 to lift the trophy.
🐐 The 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐩𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐝 GOAT
— talkSPORT EDGE (@talkSPORTEDGE) June 6, 2022
The bookies don’t have either Messi or Ronaldo among the top favorites to win the Golden Boot at the World Cup, despite their recent performances. Ronaldo is fifth in the list, at +1000, with Messi right behind him at +1100. England’s Harry Kane at +600, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku at +650, France’s Kylian Mbappe at +800, and Brazil’s Neymar at +850 are all in a better position in the odds charts.
Will Messi and Ronaldo beat the odds and make the 2022 World Cup another episode in their fantastic individual run? It would be quite a finale for a rivalry that dominated football for more than a decade.