The recent spate of friendlies has one amazing tie at Old Trafford, on Tuesday night Argentina, World cup runners up face Portugal in a mouth-watering clash.
The entire limelight has been on the arguably the two best players in the world currently, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. All eyes mostly would be on former Manchester United winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid player will be coming back to Old Trafford as part of the Portugal team mid speculations that he could return to Manchester United.
The two most recent Ballon d’Or winners will go head to head, trying to outdo one another. This will be one match worth watching, even though it is a friendly. The two teams last met in 2011 when both players scored but Messi’s goal trumped Ronaldo’s since the Argentine scored in stoppage time to give Argentina the win, 2-1.
Cristiano Ronaldo should lead the team out at Manchester United’s home ground but there could be another Manchester player who would be looking to prove some doubters wrong, Nani, who is on loan at Sporting Lisbon would be looking to perform at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo, the current Ballon d’Or winner has had a fantastic last 18 months for club, although his performance for Portugal was not up to his high standards in the World Cup, probably due to a long season with Real Madrid where he won the UEFA Champions League. Ronaldo spent 6 years at Old Trafford and scored 84 goals in 196 appearances for the Reds before moving to the Spanish Capital, where his scoring record stands at an astounding 195 goals in just 175 games.
Lionel Messi would also be captaining his side and another former United player could be starting, though he may be as loved and revered as Ronaldo. Carlos Tevez who initially played for Manchester United and then had a stint with Manchester City would be looking to play up in attack with Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain. Sergio Aguero could end up starting on the bench for Argentina.
An Argentine is now starring in Old Trafford now as well, apart from cheering for Ronaldo, a pretty loud reception would greet Angel Di Maria who was signed by Manchester United in the off season for big money from Real Madrid, although he started off really well for the club, his performances have petered down a little in the last few games, it will be interesting to see how the team does line up when Gerardo Martino names his Argentine team, which has a lot of firepower.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi
Do we really need to explain this battle? The two best players in the world go head to head for their respective national teams. Ronaldo will be hoping to help his Portugal side so well, after an underwhelming World Cup and a rather stuttering EURO 2016 campaign. Messi will be looking to prove that he is better than Ronaldo after the Portuguese won the Ballon D’Or from the Argentine last year.
Rui Patricio vs. Argentina’s Forwards
Rui Patricio will have his hands full trying to keep out Argentina’s attack. The Portuguese goalkeeper does not have the best defence in front of him and the likes of Messi, Higuain, Aguero and Tevez will be looking to score a glut of goals against the European team.
Tiago vs. Javier Mascherano
Tiago has been brilliant ever since he signed for Atletico Madrid, playing the holding midfielder role; he has been an integral part of the success for the other Madrid team. Javier Macherano plays as the defensive midfielder for Argentina and not for Barcelona. The one player who comes out on top could help their teammates start attacks.
Since his departure from Old Trafford, this would be Ronaldo’s second ever appearance at Old Trafford.
Both teams are coming off victories from their last games.
This is the eighth time these two teams have met.
Argentina hold the upper hand with 5 wins out of the 8 games.
Ronaldo scored in the last game for Portugal, against Armenia in the EURO 2016 qualifier making him the highest goal scorer in European Championship history.
Both managers were asked about their votes for the Ballon d’Or,
Fernando Santos (Portugal): “I voted for Cristiano because I think during the season he has been the best player in the world. We all know Messi is a good player and in my opinion they are both genius players, but I made my choice.”
Tata Martino (Argentina): “You can’t take out of the decision-making process the fact I am Argentinian and my heart lies with Messi. I’m probably not the best person to be asked to judge the Ballon d’Or because I cannot separate sentiment from my decision – I’m not the most objective person. Whatever kind of season Messi might have had from a playing point of view, I would still vote for him.”
Ricardo Carvalho, the Portuguese player has this to say
“For us Portuguese, everyone is expecting that Cristiano will win his third Ballon d’Or. I think he is the best. He always wants more. He is almost perfect – strong, good in the air, and always fit.”
Possible Line ups
Portugal Starting XI: Patricio, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Pepe, Guerreiro, Danny, Tiago, Moutinho, Nani, Ronaldo, Eder
Argentina Starting XI: Cabellero, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Demichelis, Ansaldi, Perez, Mascherano, Di Maria, Messi, Higuain, Tevez
A tough game to call if you are just thinking about Ronaldo vs. Messi but with the firepower that Argentina have, it should be an easy 1-3 win for the South American team.
Quotes courtesy: Eurosport.com
Picture courtesy: The Telegraph