The most anticipated matchup of the Group Stage in the UEFA Champions League will be the first showdown between Lionel Messi and Cristiano since the latter left Real Madrid two years ago.
The highly-awaited clash between football's two driving forces for the past 15-20 years will be one for the ages, starting with the fact that states that these players have never performed against each other in the group stage of the European tournament. With that in mind, let's have a look at what the numbers say on the Messi-CR7 rivalry in the UEFA Champions League ahead of their potential clashes in the group stage.
The first time in which these titans met took place in the 2007-08 UEFA Champions League semi-finals. The Portuguese ace was able to call himself taller than Messi in their first clash, as a 1-0 aggregate gave Manchester United the ticket to the 2007-08 final, which the Red Devils would win. Neither one of these footballers scored during the two-legged tie.
The second chapter of their European rivalry came in the 2009 UCL Final. Barcelona, led by Messi and Pep Guardiola, claimed the continental title with a 2-0 score, and on top of that, "La Pulga" scored the second goal for Los Culés. This would be CR7's final game with the Red Devils.
Their rivalry went even further when Cristiano joined Real Madrid, but Messi kept dominating when both were on the same pitch. Their next meeting -and last up to this day- in a European tournament came in the 2010-11 semi-finals, with Messi leading Barcelona to one more final thanks to a 3-1 aggregate. In that tie, Messi scored a brace against Los Blancos.
This is a summary of the rivalry between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in UCL games.
Games played: 5
Games won by Lionel Messi: 2
Games won by Cristiano Ronaldo: 1
Games drawn: 2
Goals scored by Lionel Messi: 3
Goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo: 0
It has been nine years since the last UCL meeting between these football titans. If both of them stay healthy, we could be in for a real treat when Cristiano Ronaldo visits Camp Nou again and when Lionel Messi makes his way into Allianz Stadium.