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Cristiano Ronaldo has been denied a final meeting with Lionel Messi after the Portuguese star was ruled out of Al-Nassr’s friendly match against Inter Miami due to injury.
Ronaldo and Messi had been set to share the field for potentially the last time in the Riyadh Season Cup, but Al-Nassr confirmed that Ronaldo has not recovered in time for Thursday’s match.
Messi was in action earlier this week when his Inter Miami side faced Al-Hilal, scoring a second-half penalty during the 4-3 defeat in Riyadh.
Inter Miami’s match against Al-Nassr had been dubbed ‘The Last Dance’ due to Messi and Ronaldo’s rivalry from their days with Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Ronaldo has been ruled out.
“We will not see [Messi vs Ronaldo],” said Al-Nassr’s manager Luis Castro.
“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.”
Messi and Ronaldo, who turns 39 on February 5, have faced each other 35 times over their careers, with Messi winning 16 times and Ronaldo 10.
Messi, who is 36, and Ronaldo shared a rivalry for over a decade as they competed for the title of the best player in the world and repeatedly locked horns on the pitch in fierce clashes between Barcelona and Real Madrid in El Classico.
Between them, Messi and Ronaldo have won 13 Ballon d’Or awards – with the Argentine leading eight to five. Messi’s victory with Argentina at the Qatar World Cup also gave him the edge over his Portuguese counterpart.
Messi and Ronaldo have since departed the elite level of the club game as they reached the end of their careers, with Messi now playing for Inter Miami in the United States and Ronaldo joining Al-Nassr of the Saudi Pro League after leaving Manchester United.
In September, Ronaldo declared their rivalry “over” and said it was time for fans to stop the “hate” of the other player.
“Hatred? I don’t see things like that, the rivalry is over,” Ronaldo said. “It was good, spectators liked it. Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo don’t have to hate Messi and vice versa.
“We’ve done well, we have changed the history of football. We are respected all over the world, that’s the most important thing.
“He’s followed his path and I have followed mine, regardless of playing outside of Europe. From what I’ve seen, he’s been doing well and so have I. The legacy lives on, but I don’t see the rivalry like that.
“We shared the stage many times, it was 15 years. I’m not saying we’re friends, I’ve never had dinner with him, but we’re professional colleagues and we respect each other.”