Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been synonymous with the game of football for the past fifteen years or so. The Argentine and the Portuguese have established their dominance as the best players in the world bar none in the said time period, and have accounted for a combined nine UEFA Champions League titles between each other.
Their dominance in Europe has also resulted in eleven Ballon d’Or titles and numerous more individual accolades being shared between the two stalwarts of the game over the years, but with both of them well beyond the wrong side of thirty now – things are not nearly the same anymore.
With Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus being knocked out by Porto on away goals already, Leo Messi and Barcelona followed them out of the Champions League last night – losing to Paris Saint-Germain on aggregate.
The high-profile eliminations in back to back nights were not only a sign that the football superstars are in the twilight of their incredible respective careers, but it had historical significance as well – both Messi and Ronaldo will be absent from the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since the 2004/05 season – nearly fifteen years ago (OptaJoe).
One or both had featured in a quarter-final every year from the 2005/06 season to the 2019/20 season – and while Messi has won the competition four times with Barcelona, Ronaldo has won five with Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Messi’s personal streak of 13 consecutive quarter-finals also came to an end this week, while Ronaldo – the top scorer in the competition’s history – crashed out in the same stage for the second year running.
As all good things must come to an end, Twitter reacted to the golden era coming to a conclusion – an era that saw the footballing world bow down to two of the greatest ever to play the game.
The world moves on and we will soon find the next generation of football superstars stamping their impression on the sport, but Messi and Ronaldo’s two-fold dominance as the best in the world is certain to be missed.
All good things must come to end
Their unquestionable legacy
The replacements are already here
The show is not over
The last swansong in the biggest of all the stages
Bodes well for Liverpool