Football’s most talked about players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both returned to action for Argentina and Portugal respectively after both sitting out of six Internationals but failed to replicate club form for country.
Having just produced a commanding display in Barcelona’s 4 -1 rout of Real Betis in the Spanish la Liga, Lionel Messi labored to find the back of the net on his return in Argentina’s 1 -3 loss to Venezuela after a self-imposed exile since losing to eventual winners France at the World Cup in Russia.
Despite the absence of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Chelsea’s on-loan striker Gonzalo Higuain and Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi, Newcastle’s striker Salomon Rondon put Venezuela ahead after six minutes before Jhon Murillo doubled the lead just before half-time before Lautaro Martinez pulled a goal back for Argentina, but Josef Martinez added Venezuela’s third with a penalty.
At the other end, Cristiano Ronaldo was denied twice by Ukraine’s Andriy Pyatov who made two strong saves to deny the Juventus forward and ensure the game ended in a barren draw.
Though Juventus had suffered their first loss of the season five days prior his reappearance for Portugal in their opening Euro Qualifier game, the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner had played an alpha role in Juventus’s progress into the last eight of the UEFA Champions League 11 days ago.
Ronaldo had missed out of Portugal’s last six games after they were knocked out in the World Cup last 16 and will hope to replicate his club form for his country when they take on Lisbon on Monday in their second Euro 2020 qualifier game.
Messi will be absent in Argentina’s next friendly against Morroco after the Barcelona star trudged off the pitch at the end of the friendly encounter against Venezuela with pains in his groin.
With all their achievements, Messi and Ronaldo continue to be a subject of comparison and debate. The debate has always been about who amongst them is the greatest player of all time but a World Cup Trophy by any of the duo is likely to put comparisons to death – the reason why their performance at country-level matter.