With less than 24 hours before Lionel Messi's exceptional performance against Lyon at Camp Nou that propelled his Barcelona FC to the quarter-finals of UEFA Champions League for a record twelfth time, it was the world's most famous athlete, Cristiano Ronaldo who put Juventus on his shoulders and brought home a 3-0 (3-2 on aggregate) victory to enter the quarter-finals as well.
Ronaldo's solid hat-trick, which included two magnificent headers in the first half and a well-placed penalty in the bottom right corner of the net in the final minutes of the game, was more of a reminder that the Portuguese exudes excellence no matter which side he plays for.March 12, 2019
With the former Champions League winners and Ronaldo's previous team, Real Madrid being knocked out of the contest by Ajax in the Round of 16, the narrative of the five-time Ballon d'Or holder and his legacy only get more convincing.
On the other hand, it was Ronaldo's arch-nemesis and greatest individual competition, Lionel Messi who stole the spotlight in a 5-1 win against Lyon last night. His two goals consisted of a skilful panenka penalty in the 17th minute and a bottom right strike to the net following a fancy dribbling run in the 78th.March 13, 2019
With the match far away from the hands of Bruno Génésio's team, the Argentine assisted teammates Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele for one goal each, making it Messi's very first Champions League game with two goals and two assists.
The back to back performances from the two titans make it very interesting for the true fans of the game to sit back and ponder whether Messi and Ronaldo truly inspire each other to become the better versions of themselves, push their limits and aspire harder to become the best footballer in the world. After the win against Lyon, Messi shared his thoughts about Ronaldo's performance from the previous night. "Cristiano and Juventus were awesome... It was a big surprise because I thought Atletico would be stronger. But Juventus overcame them and Cristiano had a magical night with three goals," the Argentine told Movistar+.March 13, 2019
According to Andy West (BBC Sports), Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has shown support to this theory. When West asked Rodgers about this notion whilst interviewing him for a book he wrote on Messi, Rodgers said: “Maybe subconsciously in some way they've driven each other on, but I think both those players inherently have that hunger to be the best players they can be. With the very elite performers, that drive comes from within.
The two megastars, no doubt, are completely different as players. While Ronaldo looks to quench his thirst for goals every second of the game, Messi looks to make the team around him better as a whole and surely, the methods followed by two are ways apart, the ultimate goal (pun intended) is to be the best in the world.
The two wizards of the sport therefore not only get inspired by each other's magic, but they also continue to work on their spells to outdo their respective competitions and as football fans, we couldn't ask for more.