In a stunning revelation, Al Nassr coach Luis Castro confirmed on Wednesday that football fans will be denied the much-anticipated showdown between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Riyadh Season Cup match scheduled for Thursday.
“We will not see [Messi vs Ronaldo], Ronaldo is in the final part of his recovery to join the group. We hope that in the next few days you can start working with the team. He will be absent from the game,” Castro announced, extinguishing the fervent hopes of supporters eagerly awaiting a face-off between the two football legends.
The clash had generated immense excitement, but Castro’s declaration poured cold water on the prospect of witnessing Messi and Ronaldo share the pitch once again after a year-long hiatus.
This might well have marked the final encounter between the two icons, with Ronaldo approaching 39 in February and Messi turning 37 in July. Speculations abound regarding Messi’s future, with rumors suggesting he might depart the USA after his contract expires to join his boyhood club, Newell’s Old Boys. On the other hand, Ronaldo has hinted that retirement is still a distant prospect for him.
Messi’s Inter Miami, now without the prospect of facing Ronaldo, will take on Al Nassr on Thursday, seeking their first preseason victory. Having suffered defeats against FC Dallas and New York City FC and managing only a draw with El Salvador, where Messi and Luis Suarez both featured, Inter Miami faces a challenge to boost their confidence after a recent 4-3 loss to Al Hilal earlier this week.
While Ronaldo recovers, he eyes a swift return to full fitness to bolster Al Nassr’s impressive unbeaten streak of five matches. The Portuguese talisman has been in scintillating form, netting 20 goals in 18 matches this season, and hopes are high for his return to the pitch in the near future.