Ronaldo’s mission after Messi and Argentina lose to Saudi Arabia

Messi world's highest paid athlete with Ronaldo also featuring in Top 10

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Over to you, Cristiano Ronaldo. Lionel Messi matched the Portugal star’s World Cup goal record against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, opening the scoring in Doha. However, he was unable to prevent his side from slumping to defeat – and has now given his long-term rival a golden chance to take the GOAT debate to new heights.

Argentina had gone into their match with Saudi expected to claim all three points, especially after going 36 games unbeaten prior to the game getting started.

Everything appeared to be in order when Messi converted from the penalty spot, with the Paris Saint-Germain star easily dispatching his spot-kick.

But Saudi, clearly, hadn’t read the script.

They drew level through Saleh Al-Shehri, with the 29-year-old expertly finishing past Emiliano Martinez.

And Saudi then claimed all three points courtesy of a stunning strike from Salem Al-Dawsari, whose effort soured into the top corner to spark wild celebrations inside the ground.

And Saudi then claimed all three points courtesy of a stunning strike from Salem Al-Dawsari, whose effort soured into the top corner to spark wild celebrations inside the ground.

For Messi, and the rest of the Argentina players, it is a hammer blow.

There will be fears they’ll crash out in the group stages, like they did 20 years ago in South Korea and Japan, especially with Mexico and Poland likely to provide strong competition.

Messi looked downbeat trudging off the pitch at full time, with the PSG star looking to the heavens and likely wondering what could have been.

It is set to be the 35-year-old’s last chance to win the World Cup, something he’s fully aware of.

And Messi will also know that, when it comes to his GOAT debate with Ronaldo, the Portugal star now has a golden opportunity.

Both men now have seven goals to their name when it comes to playing on the grandest stage of them all.

But with Portugal set to kick off their World Cup campaign against Ghana on Thursday, Ronaldo will take to the field with even more of an incentive.

With Argentina’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages hanging in the balance, Ronaldo will know he can upstage Messi by getting his country’s campaign off to a positive start.

And that will spell trouble for Ghana, who will be charged with the task of keeping him quiet.

This wasn’t how Messi’s last World Cup was meant to go.

Plenty has been said and written about the fact the PSG star is sleeping alone, with no room-mate, in a bid to ensure he’s fully focused.

But while Messi was a menacing presence in the first half, he appeared jaded as the game went on and was unable to prevent his side from slipping to defeat.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo will go into the game against Ghana very much in the spotlight after his recent interview with Piers Morgan.

The Manchester United forward ripped into the Red Devils, slamming just about everyone from Erik ten Hag to the Glazers, Ralf Rangnick to the club’s younger players.

And he made a shock appearance at a press conference on Monday to insist he didn’t regret his actions.

“In my life, the best timing is always my timing,” said the former Sporting Lisbon, Real Madrid and Juventus star.

“I don’t have to think about what other people think. The players know me really well for many years and know the type of person I am.

“It’s an ambitious group that is hungry and focused. So I’m sure it (the interview) won’t shake the changing room’s concentration and focus.”

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