Ronaldo, the older of the two, obviously had a head-start in the rivalry, and was already making a name for himself at Manchester United as Messi looked to break into Frank Rijkaard’s team.
Of course, it was known at an early age that the diminutive Argentine was special but the full extent of his greatness was yet to be realised as Sir Alex Ferguson went about polishing Ronaldo, the uncut diamond, into a full-blown gem.
A young Messi in his first full-season in 2007-’08 speaks about Ronaldo and Kaka as two players to look out for in the Ballon D’Or race. Both would join Real in the summer of 2009 but Messi and Ronaldo would meet before that as Manchester United overcame Barcelona 1-0 over two legs in the 2008 Champions League semifinals.
Barcelona would have their revenge a year later, as they beat United 2-0 in the 2009 final to clinch Messi’s first European title
At 32, Ronaldo’s aches and strains may begin to accumulate and Zinedine Zidane could be more open to protecting his most prized asset in between major matches.
Messi has had good pre-season and will be in good shape to taunt his favourite victims though as the Argentina superstar has a great record in this contest. Messi netted for the 12th time in this annual curtain raiser during a 5-0 aggregate win over Sevilla last season.