Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are set to cross paths in Saudi Arabia as Inter Miami officially announced its participation in the Riyadh Season Cup. Saudi officials had initially revealed the event on Nov. 21, though Inter Miami clarified on Monday that the earlier reports were inaccurate. The team is scheduled to face Al-Hilal on Jan. 29 and Al Nassr, which is Ronaldo’s team, on Feb. 1. Both Al-Hilal and Al Nassr currently lead the Saudi Pro League, with Ronaldo holding the position of the league’s top scorer.
Inter Miami CF’s Twitter Post
Adding a stop to our Preseason International Tour📍🌏
We will play two matches in Saudi Arabia in the Riyadh Season Cup as part of our first-ever international tour!
In a round-robin tournament format, we will take on Saudi powerhouses Al-Hilal SFC and Al Nassr FC on Monday,… pic.twitter.com/Xi9M0QApLi
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) December 11, 2023
Messi and Ronaldo have encountered each other in 35 matches across club and international competitions, as reported by Inter Miami. In these encounters, Messi’s teams emerged victorious in 16 instances, while Ronaldo’s teams secured 10 wins, and the remaining nine matches ended in a draw. Messi contributed 21 goals and 12 assists, while Ronaldo scored 20 goals and provided one assist in these encounters. Additionally, Messi has actively promoted tourism in Saudi Arabia. Notably, he faced a suspension from his former club, Paris Saint-Germain, in May for an unauthorized trip to the country. Despite this, he participated in the Riyadh Season Cup as part of PSG, the guest team for the event.
Saudi Arabia has strategically positioned itself as a prominent force in global soccer by securing the services of renowned players, despite facing accusations of sportswashing. However, when Lionel Messi departed PSG at the conclusion of the previous season, the oil-rich nation failed to entice him to join, as the eight-time Ballon d’Or recipient chose to pursue a move to Major League Soccer instead.
Inter Miami has revealed a lineup of four preseason games, featuring a clash against the El Salvador national team on January 19 and a face-off with a squad of elite players from Hong Kong on February 4. The commencement of the MLS schedule is anticipated for late February.