Cristiano Ronaldo to miss Al-Nassr’s friendly vs. Lionel Messi, Inter Miami due to injury


The much-hyped “Last Dance” friendly match between Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr took a blow on Wednesday when it was announced Ronaldo will not take part due to injury.

Al-Nassr and Inter Miami will play in the Riyadh Season Cup at Kingdom Arena Stadium in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 in what could have been the final meeting between the two soccer legends.

Ronaldo will miss the match due to a calf injury — an injury that forced Al-Nassr to cancel its two-game tour of China.

“Ronaldo is in the final part of his recovery to join the group,” Al-Nassr head coach Luis Castro said Wednesday. “We hope that in the next few days he can start working with the team. He will be absent from the game.”

This would have been the second Messi vs. Ronaldo match in the past year. When Messi was still with Paris Saint-Germain, the French side traveled to Saudia Arabia in Jan. 2023 for a friendly against a Saudi Pro League XI. The Saudi team won 5-4 with Messi scoring once and Ronaldo bagging a brace.

The Al-Nassr-Inter Miami match was set to be the 36th time Ronaldo and Messi faced one another. Messi’s teams have won 16 of the matchups, and Ronaldo’s teams have won 10. The other nine matches finished in a draw.

With Ronaldo turning 39 next week and Messi’s 37th birthday coming in June, there is a thought that a matchup featuring the two legends who have won a combined 13 Ballon d’Or awards may not happen again.

The friendly against Al-Nassr will be Inter Miami’s fourth preseason game and second in Saudi Arabia. Al-Hilal topped the Herons 4-3 on Monday, with Messi and offseason addition Luis Suarez scoring. The Saudi Pro League has been on a winter break this month and Ronaldo’s side resumed league play on Feb. 8.

Messi and Inter Miami will wrap up their preseason world tour with games in Hong Kong and Tokyo, Japan, in the next week. They will then head home to welcome Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys, the club that Messi played for as a boy before he moved to Barcelona.

Inter Miami will kick off the 2024 MLS schedule, its first full season with Messi on the roster, at home on Feb. 21 against Real Salt Lake.

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