The perennial and the most intense debate in both international and club football took a break on Saturday with both Argentina and Portugal crashing out of FIFA World Cup 2018 in their respective Round of 16 matches. Is Lionel Messi better or Cristiano Ronaldo? It did not matter on Saturday in Russia.
While Argentina lost out a closely fought contest against France – going down 3-4, Ronaldo failed to inspire his Portuguese side against an inspired Uruguay. The South Americans won 2-1. While both France and Uruguay rejoiced, it was heartbreak for millions of fans who cheer for Messi and Ronaldo – the two biggest superstars of world and club football.
For Messi, Saturday’s outcome was especially hard because this may well have been his final World Cup outing. And his dream of winning the coveted title for his country came crashing down despite his team putting up a valiant fight – far better than what was on display in the group stage. Although Messi himself did not score, Argentina had a commendable attack which was only bettered by the French unit.
In the second match of the day, Uruguay showcased a determined performance to lead twice and eventually make Portugal surrender. There were repeated attacks from the Portugese and Ronaldo’s side even dominated possession. But breaking the iron defense of Uruguay – a team which did not concede a single goal in this World Cup till Saturday – proved to be a task too audacious even for someone of Ronaldo’s stature. There was a massive commotion in the dying seconds of the match when Ronaldo got into a verbal duel with the referee and was shown the yellow card for it. Seconds later, the Portugese even cried handball. It was denied and a fuming Ronaldo left the field in utter anger after the match.
It was not his day and neither was it Messi’s.
So, while fans of Messi took to Twitter to urge him to continue till the next World Cup in Qatar, Ronaldo’s fans took to commending him on a valiant effort throughout. And knowing how passionate the debate between the fans of the two footballing greats can be, the arguments will surely resume after a heartbreaking lull.