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Ronaldo vs Messi ‘Last Dance’ is off: Will they play each other again after 2024 Al Nassr vs Inter Miami match?

Sports fans have quickly become familiar with the Riyadh Season razzamatazz and Saudi Arabia’s flagship cultural festival is laying it on thick this week.

Al Nassr will host Inter Miami and Lionel Messi as part of the Riyadh Season Cup at the Kingdom Arena on February 1. Unfortunately for fans around the world — and for the competition’s organisers — it was confirmed the day before that Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent injury would prevent him from playing against his old rival.

When the game was announced, Turki Alalshikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, posted on social media to dub the showdown between the former Clasico rivals, who have 13 Ballons d’Or between them, “The Last Dance”, recalling the epic Netflix documentary charting the final season and glory years of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

The exhibition match between a Riyadh Season Team featuring Ronaldo and Messi’s then-employers Paris Saint-Germain was their 37th meeting. Will they get a 38th?

MORE: Messi vs Ronaldo tickets: How to buy for Al Nassr vs Inter Miami match

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.

MORE: Messi & Ronaldo: Destination Mundial | Charting Cristiano and Leo’s incredible journey to the World Cup in Qatar

Ronaldo vs Messi: How many times have they met?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have met 34 times in club competitions, plus last season’s exhibition in Riyadh. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of these games took place within the white-hot intensity of El Clasico.

The pair have also faced each other for their international teams twice. Both occasions were international friendlies.

In February 2011, Argentina beat Portugal 2-1 in Geneva, with both players netting a goal. Portugal got their revenge in November 2014 with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, although neither player scored.

Messi Ronaldo Argentina Portugal

The pair have never met for their international sides in a competitive fixture. Fingers crossed for 2026…

Tantalisingly, if we count the 5-4 ding-dong from Riyadh Season 12 months ago, across the course of their career encounters with one another, Messi and Ronaldo have 24 goals apiece in these matches.

Date Competition Match Result Messi Ronaldo
Jan. 19. 2023 Exhibition Riyadh Season Team – PSG 4-5 1 goal 2 goals
Dec. 8, 2020 Champions League Barcelona – Juventus 0-3 2 goals
May 6, 2018 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 2-2 1 goal 1 goal
Dec. 23, 2017 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 0-3 1 goal, 1 assist
Aug. 13, 2017 Supercopa Barcelona – Real Madrid 1-3 1 goal 1 goal
Apr. 23, 2017 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 2-3 2 goals
Dec. 3, 2016 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 1-1
Apr. 2, 2016 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 1-2 1 goal
Nov. 21, 2015 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 0-4
Mar. 22, 2015 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 2-1 1 assist 1 goal
Nov. 18, 2014 Int. friendly Argentina – Portugal 0-1
Oct. 25, 2014 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 3-1 1 goal
Mar. 23, 2014 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 3-4 3 goals 1 goal
Oct. 26, 2013 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 2-1 1 assist
Mar. 2, 2013 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 2-1 1 goal
Feb. 26, 2013 Copa del Rey Barcelona – Real Madrid 1-3 2 goals
Jan. 30, 2013 Copa del Rey Real Madrid – Barcelona 1-1 1 assist
Oct. 7, 2012 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 2-2 2 goals 2 goals
Aug. 29, 2012 Supercopa Real Madrid – Barcelona 2-1 1 goal 1 goal
Aug. 22, 2012 Supercopa Barcelona – Real Madrid 3-2 1 goal 1 goal
Apr. 21, 2012 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 1-2 1 goal
Jan. 25, 2012 Copa del Rey Barcelona – Real Madrid 2-2 1 assist 1 goal
Jan. 18, 2012 Copa del Rey Real Madrid – Barcelona 1-2 1 assist 1 goal
Dec. 10, 2011 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 1-3 1 assist
Aug. 17, 2011 Supercopa Barcelona – Real Madrid 3-2 2 goals, 1 assist 1 goal
Aug. 14, 2011 Supercopa Real Madrid – Barcelona 2-2 1 goal, 1 assist
May 3, 2011 Champions League Barcelona – Real Madrid 1-1
Apr. 27, 2011 Champions League Real Madrid – Barcelona 0-2 2 goals
Apr. 20, 2011 Copa del Rey Barcelona – Real Madrid (Neutral Stadium) 0-1 1 goal
Apr. 16, 2011 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 1-1 1 goal 1 goal
Feb, 9, 2011 Int. friendly Argentina – Portugal  2-1 1 goal 1 goal
Nov. 29, 2010 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 5-0 2 assists
Apr. 10, 2010 La Liga Real Madrid – Barcelona 0-2 1 goal
Nov. 29, 2009 La Liga Barcelona – Real Madrid 1-0
May 27, 2009 Champions League Man United – Barcelona (Neutral) 2-0 1 goal
Apr. 29, 2008 Champions League Man United – Barcelona 1-0
Apr. 23, 2008 Champions League Barcelona – Man United 0-0 (1 missed penalty)
TOTAL       18 wins
24 goals
12 wins
24 goals
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