Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo meet again on Thursday when Paris Saint-Germain in Saudi Arabia take on an all-star team made up of players from Al Nassr and Al Hilal. With the Argentinian world champion, a PSG player, and the Portuguese talisman now plying his trade in the Saudi Pro League, the world is treated to yet another installment of arguably the greatest individual football rivalry of modern times.

Here’s our look at their rivalry as you watch this game and more:

How to see and odds

  • Date: Thursday, January 19 | Time: 12:00 p.m. ET (noon)
  • Location: King Fahd International Stadium – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • TV: beIN Sports USA | Live broadcast: fuboTV (try for free)

Why are Messi and CR7 meeting?

Messi plays for PSG, who are traveling to Saudi Arabia as part of their latest winter tour. Cristiano Ronaldo recently joined Al Nassr, one of the two Saudi sides who will contribute to the all-star squad. This is not seen as the Portuguese star’s debut for his new club as he does not play exclusively for Al Nassr. The all-star team will be coached by guest coach Marcelo Gallardo rather than Al-Nassr head coach Rudi Garcia.

Why in Saudi Arabia?

This game was originally scheduled to take place in early 2022, but PSG’s tour had to be postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Back then, Messi was playing for PSG, but Ronaldo was still with Manchester United in Europe. However, the contracts signed for that tour remained valid, forcing PSG to return as part of their latest visit to Qatar, which has since hosted the FIFA World Cup that Messi won with Argentina.

Will this be your last meeting?

This may be the last time we see these two compete on the pitch. Their last meeting came at the end of 2020 when Juventus beat Barcelona 3-0 and Ronaldo scored two penalties, making these clashes increasingly rare since the height of their La Liga rivalry. Never say never, but there’s no guarantee these two will be in the same league again, so this could well be their last dance as opponents.

Classic fights between Messi and Ronaldo

The obvious neck-and-neck race between Messi and Ronaldo was the Ballon d’Or, which the Argentines have won against the Portuguese seven times. Messi could still add to his collection after the Qatar triumph but there is less confidence Ronaldo will expand his set beyond the five he already has. It’s probably safe to say Messi won this one.

August 2011 — Barca defeated Real 3-2 in the second leg of the Supercopa, with Messi scoring twice and Ronaldo once. It wasn’t the most important game of all, but a Clasico is a Clasico and it heralded the explosive growth of their rivalry on the global stage.

Oct 2012 — Both players scored twice in the 2-2 La Liga draw that included a sensational free-kick from Messi. Barca dominated this season but Real held their own at the Camp Nou this season and it was the perfect illustration of how El Clasico eventually became theirs – the greatest rivalry in football collectively and individually.

March 2014 — A 4-3 win for Barca away at Real in a Clasico for the ages, with Messi scoring three times and setting up the visitors’ other goal and Ronaldo scoring once for the defeated hosts. Santiago Bernabeu witnessed greatness that night with Karim Benzema, Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos just a few of the supporting cast in an unforgettable evening.

May 2018 — Their last clash in Barca and Real colors each scored a goal in a 2-2 draw just before Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus spelled the end of their double dominance in La Liga.

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