It is the eternal war of two of the most decisive players on the planet and the duel gets more attractive and more exciting every year. They are a mirror image of each other in which to scrutinise with ambition and mark their personal goals.
We saw an example of this the other day, on the first day of the season’s Champions League matches. Cristiano Ronaldo performed well at the Turk Telekom Arena in Madrid’s rout of Galatasaray with the type of hat -trick that is only available to the very few. Among those players capable of such an offensive display is Barca’s own Leo Messi. A day later, the little Argentine did the same against Ajax at the Nou Camp. Three goals and a message to CR7: “I also stick them in three at a time.”
It is the sixth time in succession that the Portuguese star and the Argentine challenged each other with a hat- trick. The first time this was done was three seasons ago, in the 2010/11 campaign. It was the 12th game of the season and Barcelona were playing Almeria. In the 0-8 goal rout, the ‘ flea ‘ scored three goals. Two hours later, the mirror effect was seen at the Santiago Bernabeu. The challenge was duly accepted and Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Athletic Bilbao.
Six days later something else happened. Cristiano netted three more against Villarreal and Messi, days later in a Copa del Rey tie, did the same against Real Betis. This situation was repeated twice more the following season. Messi scored three more against Atletico Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo against Rayo Vallecano. 17 days later, there was more of the same. A hat- trick from Cristiano against Levante and the Argentine mirrored him against Pamplona.
First time in the UEFA Champions League
Until this Champions League brace of 3 goals apiece, the last time they swapped hat- tricks was last season in La Liga against Getafe and Osasuna, respectively.
The duel has now moved for the first time to the Champions League. The gauntlet between the two superstars has now been thrown down at a European level. Get ready for a long season ahead with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who both have their fingers on the trigger.