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Champions league: Messi desperate to face Ronaldo

By Babalola Seyi

Barcelona star man Lionel Messi is reportedly desperate to line up against Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo when the two clubs do battle in the Champions League tonight.

Barca and Juve have already qualified for the last 16 and the midweek clash is nothing more than a dead rubber, and Ronald Koeman would normally be expected to rest Messi for this tie.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has not featured in La Blaugrana’s recent wins over Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros, but Messi did not get the chance to play against Ronaldo earlier this year due to the Portuguese’s positive coronavirus test.

According to the Daily Mail, Koeman is prepared to relent and will start Messi against the Old Lady, in which he could find himself coming up against Ronaldo for the very last time.

The two attackers have battled for supremacy over the past decade but are now entering the latter stages of their careers, with Ronaldo now 35 and Messi – who is still expected to leave Barcelona next summer – two years younger than his rival at 33.

The last time that Messi and Ronaldo lined up against each other was in El Clasico in May 2018, during which both players netted in a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou.

Since Ronaldo’s departure, the fixture has lost some of its glamour, leaving the football world eager for the pair to be pitted against each other again.

Those hopes were frustrated earlier in the group phase, with Ronaldo missing Barcelona’s 2-0 win in Turin after testing positive for COVID-19. Messi scored with a penalty. They are poised to meet again tonight.

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