In Saudi Arabia, Messi and Ronaldo made the show for their reunion

In Saudi Arabia, Messi and Ronaldo made the show for their reunion

FRANCK FIFE / AFP Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi (L) walks past Riyadh All-Star’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) during the Riyadh Season Cup football match between the Riyadh All-Stars and Paris Saint-Germain at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on January 19, 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

FOOTBALL – Even if Paris Saint-Germain did not treat its defensive problems, the friendly match won against the Saudi selection (5-4) on Thursday January 19 did not lack twists. A show made possible by the presence of the two stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who each scored, during this probable last duel.

In terms of entertainment and marketing, this prestigious match was a success. The stadium was filled and trembled with happiness with each ball of “CR7”, author of a double, the PSG collected more than 10 million euros, welcome while the financial fair play watches it very closely, and released his fourth jersey, a black streaked with luminous lines evoking the illuminated Eiffel Tower.

Despite the defeat, the Saudi public, especially who came to see the clash between Ronaldo and Messi, also enjoyed themselves until the end. The brand new world champion shone first, scoring from the start on a superb shady pass from Neymar (3rd).

Ronaldo responds blow for blow

Then CR7 equalized on a penalty (34th sp), after being involuntarily boxed by Keylor Navas on a clearance, before repeating the gift from Ramos, another former partner at Real.

However, this distant trip, while PSG conceded its first two defeats of the season in January, did not provide an answer to the defensive fragility of the Parisians. Against an assembly made up of players from the two big clubs in the Saudi capital, al-Nassr and al-Hilal, PSG dominated, even at ten, but conceded many chances.

The defensive concerns of Christophe Galtier’s team crossed the desert, like Sergio Ramos, scorer but passive or guilty on the goals of the All Season Ryad formation. At least he reassured on their “gnac”. They scored four shorthanded goals, after the exclusion of Juan Bernat (39th).

On the 2-2, Ronaldo, yet sandwiched between Ramos and Marquinhos, hits the post with his head, then the Spaniard completely rips his clearance and offers the goal to CR7 (45th + 6), who must play his first Sunday Saudi Championship game with al-Nassr against al-Ettifaq.

Kylian Mbappe captain

Ramos is still easily beaten by the South Korean Jang Hyun-soo on the equalizer at 3-3 (56th), which he even pushes in the back, in vain. The action which leads to Bernat’s red also betrays the feverishness of PSG, the chained faults of Achraf Hakimi on Gonzalo Martinez then of the Spanish side on Mohammed al-Dawsari are gross. Last defender, Bernat was logically excluded.

Neymar, not in good shape since his elimination in the quarter-finals at the World Cup with Brazil, has, rare thing, missed a penalty, stopped by the goalkeeper of the Saudi selection (45th + 1).

Not everything is negative in the performance of PSG, which plays Monday in Lens against Pays de Cassel (R1, 6th division), in the Coupe de France. Kylian Mbappé, briefly captain in the second half, after the exit of Marquinhos and before leaving in turn (62nd), regained his dazzling.

He offered to “Mark” the goal of 2-1 (43rd) and to Ramos the 3-2 (54th) then scored from the penalty spot the 4-3 (60th). Other good news, the young people entered well at the end of the match, where Ismaël Gharbi offered a beautiful opening the goal of K.-O. to Hugo Ekitike (78th).

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