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Is Cristiano Ronaldo playing today against Messi? Latest news on CR7 injury status for Al Nassr vs. Inter Miami match

In the footballing centrepiece of Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Season, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr will face Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami on Thursday, February 1.

Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), posted on social media after the fixture was announced to dub this the “Last Dance” between the two all-time greats.

However, as Alalshikh and the GEA have already found in their multi-million-dollar forays into heavyweight boxing, the best-laid plans in elite-level sport offer no guarantees.

During Al Nassr’s mid-season training camp in China, Ronaldo suffered a muscular injury that forced the postponement of scheduled matches against Shanghai Shenhua and Zheijang.

It cast doubt on Ronaldo’s participation against Messi at the Kingdom Arena. On the eve of the game, fans got the answer to the question on everyone’s lips.

MORE: Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo all-time career stats

Is Cristiano Ronaldo playing today against Messi?

Al Nassr head coach Luis Castro told reporters on Wednesday, January 31 that his star forward would be “ready soon” following the muscular injury that forced the cancellation of two games in China. But not soon enough.

“He is in the final part of his recovery to join the group,” Castro said. “We hope in the next few days that work with the team can begin. He will be absent from the game.”

Will the Al Nassr vs Inter Miami match still take place?

There is no indication that the Al Nassr vs. Inter Miami match will be cancelled in Ronaldo’s absence. Castro confirmed Ronaldo would not play as part of pre-match media duties.

Despite this undoubtedly being a huge blow to organisers, there is a clear and obvious difference between this game and Al Nassr’s scheduled fixtures in China.

Ronaldo is the shining symbol of Saudi Arabia’s expansion into big-money football but, unlike for the planned games with Shanghai Shenhua and Zhejiang, he is not the only show in town.

Messi is there for Riyadh Season and that, in itself, is a coup for the GEA and the Saudi government as a whole. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner is an ambassador for Saudi Tourism and recently participated in a video advert promoting the country as a desirable destination.

Additionally, the Riyadh Season Cup is a triangular event to which Al Nassr’s Saudi Pro League counterparts Al Hilal are also committed.

Al Hilal beat Messi and Inter Miami 4-3 on January 29, with a meeting between the two domestic rivals slated for February 8, a date that now becomes Ronaldo’s next target for a return.

Ronaldo vs Messi ‘Last Dance’: Will they play each other again?

The scheduled match between Al Nassr and Inter Miami on February 1 was very possibly the last meeting between Ronaldo and Messi, but absolutely not definitely.

When Messi and Ronaldo were enjoying their imperial periods at Barcelona and Real Madrid, they were guaranteed two meetings per season in La Liga, with this tally often topped up by Supercopa de Espana, Copa del Rey and Champions League encounters.

Ronaldo moving to Juventus in 2018 ended this close proximity and their final game against one another in European club football came on December 8, 2020, when Cristiano enjoyed the sweet success of scoring twice in a 3-0 Juve Champions League victory at Camp Nou.

The following season, Messi upped sticks to PSG and Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United. These were ultimately unsatisfactory final chapters in Europe that effectively closed the book on any more competitive club encounters.

However, a glance at Al Nassr and Inter Miami’s early-year schedules shows that money-spinning exhibition games are very much built into the business model, especially with two of the biggest stars in the history of the sport on the payroll.

While this month’s “Last Dance” has been rendered impossible, it would take a brave person to back against another Riyadh Season matchup. If not next year, then maybe in 2026, when both veterans are likely to be gearing up for their final crack at the greatest prize of all.

Messi will turn 39 during the 2026 World Cup as Argentina defend their title, while Ronaldo will be into his fifth decade. Nevertheless, both men’s incredible longevity means participating at the tournament is very much on the cards. An Argentina vs. Portugal showdown including the two veterans might be the most fitting sign-off of all.

What time is Al Nassr vs Inter Miami match 2024?

The friendly match between Al Nassr and Inter Miami is due to kick off at 9 p.m. local time on Thursday, February 1, 2024.

The game is taking place at Kingdom Arena, a 30,000-capacity venue in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is where Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal play their home games.

Here is how the kickoff time translates across some of the world’s major territories:

  Date Kickoff time
USA Thur, Feb. 1 1 p.m. ET
Canada Thur, Feb. 1 1 p.m. ET
UK Sun, Jan. 21 6:00 p.m. GMT
Australia Fri, Feb. 2 5 a.m. AEDT
India Thur, Feb. 1 11:30 p.m. IST

Inter Miami vs Al Nassr live stream, TV channel

This club-friendly match between Inter Miami and Al Nassr from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will be broadcast across the globe on MLS Season Pass from Apple TV.

MLS Season Pass is the home for the entirety of the 2024 Major League Soccer season, with every match streaming on the platform throughout the coming campaign. They will also have the broadcast rights to the Leagues Cup, which will take place in August as MLS clubs pause their league schedule to contest a knockout tournament against clubs from the Mexican top flight.

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