Saudi Messi-Ronaldo showdown: Would you pay Dh41,000 to watch the football legends 'one last time'?

Inter Miami and Al Nassr will face off in the Riyadh Season Cup on February 1

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Lionel Messi (right) and Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo: AFP file
Lionel Messi (right) and Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo: AFP file

Published: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 6:55 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 11:01 PM

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — two of the greatest footballers of this generation — will face off for what may be the last time next week.

Messi's Major League Soccer team Inter Miami and Ronaldo's Saudi Pro League outfit Al Nassr will go up against each other with another local club Al Hilal in the Riyadh Season Cup, a friendly tournament, from January 29 to February 8 and the hype among fans eager to get their hands on tickets is real.

Billed as 'The Last Dance,' it has all the portents of a classic. Tickets went on sale earlier in the week and according to seatpick.com, passes for the once-in-a-lifetime encounter on February 1 start at $130 (Dh477) and go up to a whopping $11,214 (Dh41,183) for Platinum seating.

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It has been a while since Messi and Ronaldo sized up each other on a football pitch, like they used to in the Spanish La Liga, back in the day.

That has been a storied rivalry which not just left rival fans of the two giant clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid fighting for bragging rights in the 'El Clasico', but also left fans around the world spellbound.

The two went their separate ways, and it wasn't the same 'El Clasico' anymore.

The pair last met in a thrilling exhibition match in Saudi Arabia with Messi, who was then part of French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint Germain, going up against a Riyadh All-Star XI featuring Ronaldo.

Although the duo were also at the Qatar World Cup, sadly for fans, they didn't face each other.

Nonetheless, lucky fans will get to witness this one last dance between the Argentine and the Portuguese.

According to reports, the match will be shown outside of North America through DAZN and in the USA and the UK on the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

Smashing campaign

Messi and his team arrived in the Kingdom on Friday and were accorded a warm welcome, with flowers and Arabic coffee, at the King Khalid International Airport.

They wasted little time and got down to business right away with an intense but fun-filled training session in Riyadh.

Lionel Messi. Photo: Inter Miami CF/X
Lionel Messi. Photo: Inter Miami CF/X

Messi's affinity to the Middle Eastern country has strengthened since he became a brand ambassador for Saudi Tourism.

His latest campaign in particular, in which he 'literally' smashes stereotypes about the Kingdom, has been widely lauded for its creativity.

"What I love about Saudi is that I always discover what I never expected," he says in the video.

He then unleashes a cracking left-footer into a wall, which reads: 'Just a desert.'

The video cuts to footage of breathtaking scenes from Saudi with the Red Sea, Aseer Mountains, snow-covered Tabuk mountains, as well as views of Jeddah and the capital Riyadh.

He proceeds to smash several other stereotypes, including one about women. The wall before him reads: 'Girls can't.'

Just as he prepares to shoot his shot, a Saudi girl in wearing football gear runs in and smashes the ball into the wall, as the video cuts to footage of the Saudi women's national team, DJ Cosmicat DJ, and Saudi astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi.

Watch the video here:

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