When the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup began in Qatar on November 20, 2 names were mainly in focus – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Aged 35 and 37 respectively, the 2 modern-day greats were all set to play what is without a doubt their last World Cup.
In 2026, Messi will be 39 and Ronaldo 41 so the odds of them being around on national duty 4 years from now are virtually nil.
For all their success at club and international levels, both these stalwarts have an important piece of silverware missing from their cabinets. Yes, you guessed it, we are talking about the World Cup. Ronaldo led Portugal to become European Champions six years back while Messi led Argentina to Copa America glory last year, but with all due respect to the 2 tournaments, this is a different planet. The World Cup is the ultimate prize.
Sadly, only one of them, if at all, will end up with the trophy. The debate as to which one of them is the better player has divided fans for almost 2 decades. If one of them ends up with the World Cup, it could, at least in part, be put to rest.
Argentina vs Portugal in the final would be the ultimate treat for football lovers as they would get to see Messi and Ronaldo battle on the pitch for the title. No, it is not wishful thinking, it could actually happen. In fact, the way things are looking at present, Messi and Ronaldo can only meet in the final.
Both teams are in the quarters. Argentina face Netherlands while Portugal take on Morocco. Should they both win, they will be in the semis. Argentina will play either Brazil or Croatia and Portugal shall face either England or France.
Should both sides win their respective semis then it will be a title clash. And it will be one to remember when the 2 best footballers of the current generation face off in a bid to be champions.
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As both will probably ride off to the sunset post this tournament, at least on an international level, it would be nice for either of them to sign off with a blaze of glory.
Of course, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, both sides need to win their next 2 games. If one of them falters, the dream final will be out of the question. If both falter, it will not matter at all. If both make it, the fact that it is a World Cup final may be overshadowed by the Messi vs Ronaldo factor.
So come December 18, it remains to be seen if it is Messi vs Ronaldo in the final. It’s possible, even probable. But of course it is not set in stone. Only time will tell.