It’s official, Cristiano Ronaldo will be acting as captain for a Saudi All-Star XI that will take on PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) in a friendly match on January 19. This friendly match will be Ronaldo’s first match since joining Al Nassr officially on January 1.
The Saudi All-Star XI team consists of players from Saudi sides Al Hilal and Al Nassr. Some of the players in this team include Saudi internationals Salem Al-Dawsari, who scored in the shock group-stage win over Argentina in the 2022 World Cup, and Saud Abdulhamid.
In addition to these star players, the match will feature other key PSG players such as Kylian Mbappe, Sergio Ramos and Neymar.
The news of Ronaldo’s captaincy was confirmed in a tweet posted from the account of Turki Al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s current chairman of general authority for entertainment. The post features a video that shows the five-time Ballon d’Or winner receiving the captain’s armband.
الوعد ان شاءالله يوم ١٩ يناير … لقاء فوق الخيال … ومدير الفريق الكابتن خالد الشنيف ان شاءالله والتشكيلة غداً بيعلنها المدرب وخالد … اتمنى يومها ننسى الهلال والنصر ساعتين ونصير كلنا موسم الرياض… وبعد الساعتين نوقف الهدنة 😂🇸🇦❤️ pic.twitter.com/nttB07IgBb
— TURKI ALALSHIKH (@Turki_alalshikh) January 15, 2023
The friendly match will take place in Riyadh on Thursday. Sources say that more than 2 million online ticket requests have been made. In addition, the bidding for a VIP “Beyond Imagination” ticket to the match has topped 10 million riyals (USD 2.66 million) in an auction that closed on Tuesday.
The confirmation of Ronaldo playing in the Saudi All-Star XI and PSG also means that he will be playing against long-time rival Lionel Messi. It will be the first time Messi and Ronaldo have faced off since the 37-year-old left European football for the Middle East.
Ronaldo and Messi formed a rivalry during their time in Spain together, playing starring roles in numerous El Clasicos for Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. In 2018, Ronaldo left Spain to join Juventus, and has not come up against Messi since December 2020, when the Italian giants travelled to the Nou Camp.
While it has been some time since Messi and Ronaldo were seen on the field together, their rivalry is well-known within the soccer community. Because of this several fans have tried to get tickets in hopes of seeing the two rivals face each other on the field after so long.
Another factor that makes this match so anticipated is because this could be the last chance for fans to see a match involving Messi and Ronaldo live. Why? Because the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has penned a deal with PSG until 2025. This means, unless Al-Hilal are able to tempt Messi to Saudi Arabia, Thursday’s friendly will be the last time Ronaldo and Messi are pitted against one another.
Before his captaincy was confirmed, Ronaldo was seen watching the club’s recent 2-0 win against Al-Ta’ee while on an exercise bike. At the time, he was serving a two-match ban.
Following this match, Ronaldo will make his first competitive appearance in the Saudi Pro League(Saudi Professional League) on Sunday when Al Nassr host Al Ettifaq. The 2022–23 Saudi Professional League is the 47th edition of the Saudi Professional League. It started on December 31, 2022, and so far, Al Nassr has had 3 wins and two draws.
The PSG, meanwhile, will be going against the Pays de Cassel on January 24 for the French Cup.