Ronaldo likely to face Messi in Saudi debut - GulfToday

Ronaldo likely to face Messi in Saudi debut


Cristiano Ronaldo greets youth during his unveiling at the Mrsool Park Stadium in Riyadh on Jan. 3, 2023. FP

Cristiano Ronaldo’s first game in Saudi Arabia is set to be against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and a possible reunion with his career-long rival Lionel Messi.

PSG said on Monday it will play a Jan.19 friendly in Riyadh against a composite team of players from Ronaldo’s new club Al Nassr and Al Hilal, the current Asian Champions League title holder.

Ronaldo should have to wait until Jan.22 to make his formal debut for Al Nassr in a league game against Al Ettifaq.

Qatar-owned PSG will travel to Doha on Jan.17 before moving on to the Saudi capital for the match at the King Fahd Stadium, which will see Messi and Ronaldo renew their rivallery.

Messi returned to training with PSG last week after being given a fortnight off following Argentina's World Cup triumph in Qatar in December.

Ronaldo-Saudifan-woman An Al Nassr fan poses holding a shirt with Cristiano  Ronaldo's name on the back of it inside the stadium before the match. Reuters

World soccer rules require the 37-year-old star to finish serving a two-match suspension imposed by the English Football Association in November ahead of the World Cup.

Ronaldo slapped a mobile phone out of a fan’s hand following a game against Everton last April. Qatar-owned PSG is visiting Saudi Arabia during a two-day break in the region, including a visit to Doha for promotional work with the club’s portfolio of Qatari sponsors.

Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the sport over the last 15 years, winning the Ballon d'Or 12 times between them.

Their rivallery grew during nine years in which they came up against each other in Spain, when Messi was starring for Barcelona and Ronaldo for Real Madrid.

Riyadh clubs Al Hilal and Al Nassr are Saudi Arabia's two most successful sides.

PSG have made a habit of travelling to Qatar in winter since the Gulf state bought the club in 2011.

However, this trip comes despite the Ligue 1 leaders having a French Cup tie scheduled for the weekend of January 21 and 22 against lower-league opponents yet to be determined.


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