On Dec. 8, 2020, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo faced off for the 36th time. This is the first time the two have faced off since May of 2018. The last time they met, Ronaldo wore the Real Madrid crest. This time, he was wearing the Juventus crest. Ronaldo and Messi facing off was quite common before Ronald left Real Madrid. The two played in the same league in Spain, as well as the same domestic cup competitions. In the nine years Ronaldo was at Real Madrid, arguably the two best footballers in the world faced off against each other 32 times. It was wonderful as a football fan to see the two very best in the world clash so frequently, while both are in their primes. Now, with both being in their mid 30’s, we have to enjoy the times they face off even more.
With both Juventus and Barcelona comfortably through to the round of 16, this game did not mean much for either club, but the game still had that buzz because of it hosted Messi and Ronaldo. Ronaldo was unable to play in the first group stage game between the two sides due to catching COVID-19. This means the game did not matter for standings, but it mattered for pride of who would be triumphant over the other.
Ronaldo would draw first blood in this one early. In the 12th minute, Ronaldo would take advantage of young Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo. Ronaldo made a quick turn outside towards the endline in the box, and Araujo, caught off guard, used his body to take down Ronaldo. This sent Ronaldo to the penalty spot, where he sent Barcelona keeper Ter Stegen the wrong way, and put Juventus up 1-0.
It felt like the floodgates were opened and the attack was all Juventus. In the 20th minute an unexpected player would score for Juventus. Twenty-two-year-old USA international Weston McKennie would have an extraordinary finish off a Juan Cuadrado cross into the box. McKennie threw himself in the air and volleyed the ball acrobatically past Ter Stegen. These two Juventus goals came within seven minutes of each other. Juventus would go into the half up 2-0, with Messi having more chances, but Ronaldo having the only goal between the two.
In the 50th minute Ronaldo would get another goal. Clement Lenglet of Barcelona controlled the ball with his hand in his own box, and the video assistant referee would it and deem it as a penalty. Ronaldo again would go to the spot and send Ter Stegen the wrong way, putting Juventus up 3-0, which is how the game would end.
This game would put Juventus into first place in Group G of the champions league, and with Barcelona finishing second. However, this is not a big deal since both teams will be on to the round of 16. The draw to see who Juventus and Barcelona will face off against in the round of 16 will take place on Monday, Dec. 14 at 12:00 Central European Time which is 6 a.m. EST. We could potentially get another Messi vs. Ronaldo matchup in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
As for the Messi vs. Ronaldo rivalry, this win brings Ronaldo a little closer to Messi in the total number of wins total from Messi-Ronaldo matchups. Messi still has a commanding 16-2-11 record against Ronaldo. These two goals for Ronaldo put him just one behind Messi in the scoring records for these two when they face off, Messi with 22 goals, and Ronaldo now with 21.
Let’s hope we get to see these two icons face off a few more times before they hang up their cleats. No matter who you’ a fan of, be sure to appreciate the talent of each individual and realize you are watching greatness from both of these footballers. Before you know it, they will be gone and all we will have is memories of these great matchups, wishing we could watch them go toe-to-toe once more.