Soccer – Messi vs. Ronaldo: PR of superlatives in the Saudis – Sport

To crown the Saudi Arabian football advertising days, there will be what is possibly the last duel between the football giants Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Paris Saint-Germain, led by the Argentinian world champions, will face an all-star team made up of players from Ronaldo’s new employers Al-Nassr and rival Al-Hilal. This Thursday, in the King Fahd Stadium of the rich and disputed desert state, the world will witness a clash that could be the last of many years of attention-grabbing duels between the 37-year-old Portuguese and the 35-year-old Argentine. It will be Ronaldo’s first game since moving to Saudi Arabia, and it is sure to be a spectacle full of prestige, PR and a lot of money.

The two have met 36 times in their careers, mostly in important games. This 37th meeting is all about the money, as PSG should receive a little more than ten million euros for the trip to Saudi Arabia. It remains to be seen how sensible the trip is from a fitness point of view, as the round of 16 first leg in the Champions League in Paris against the German record champions FC Bayern Munich is just under a month away.

In addition to Messi and Ronaldo, other names in the Paris world selection such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappé should almost fade away. The fact that Messi, as the advertising face of a tourism campaign, also has a business connection to Saudi Arabia, the country that inflicted the only defeat on him and the Argentines in the opening game at the World Cup, makes the reunion of the multiple world footballers even more remarkable.

To get in the mood, Saudi Arabia had secured nothing less than the Spanish and Italian Supercup at König Fahd Stadium between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as AC and Inter Milan. The Portuguese sports newspaper “A Bola” also recalled the last duel between Messi and Ronaldo. Ronaldo had won 3-0 with Juventus at FC Barcelona with Messi in the group stage in December 2020 – also thanks to Ronaldo’s two penalty goals.

The demand for tickets for the Riyadh Season Cup was huge, with two million inquiries. Around 70,000 fans only have room in the King Fahd Stadium. One lucky fan even paid 10 million riyals – the equivalent of around 2.5 million euros – for a special ticket at a charity auction.

This Thursday, the world will witness a clash between two of the greatest footballers of all time. It will be a spectacle of superlatives and a reminder of the power of Soccer.