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Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: Rivalry’s Latest Installment Highlights Where Barcelona and Juventus Are Headed

After two long years, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi resumed their rivalry as the two modern-day greats faced each other at the Nou Camp on Tuesday and it was the Portuguese who came out on top. Though the encounter was very much dominated by the two footballing greats, it was a great indicator of the direction in which both Barcelona and Juventus are heading after a change in management over the past summer.

Both teams were already through to the round of 16 but faced each other at the Nou Camp to secure top spot in their section and a shambolic 3-0 defeat at home to Juventus means Barcelona finish second and will now face a group winner in the knockout stages. Given their current form and recent history in the competition, it does not bode well for the Catalans.

Barcelona’s off-field problems have added to their on-field misery as the Blaugranas currently find themselves in shambles. Along with their worst domestic start in 32 years, Ronald Koeman’s men have now failed to secure the top spot in a UCL group for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

With the appointment of Ronald Koeman, Barcelona hoped to address some of their problems from the previous seasons but little has changed as fragile defense and Messidependencia still remains, with the only difference being the ever-increasing fear of losing their captain, who is yet to renew his contract which ends in the summer.

Despite not at his best, Lionel Messi looked like the only Barcelona player – apart from Riqui Puig – who could make something happen on the night. The Argentine had more shots (11), more shots on target (seven), more touches (125) and more duels (19) than any other player on the pitch but wasn’t able to help his side get back into the game while Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice with three shots on target.

This highlights the main difference between the two footballing greats at the moment. Lionel Messi is playing for a team in unrealistic decline under Ronald Koeman while Cristiano Ronaldo leads Andrea Pirlo’s ever-improving Juventus team.

After a tough start, Andrea Pirlo is finding his feet as a manager of a big European club with his previous experience being managing the Bianconeri’s U-23s. Juventus have improved in recent weeks, winning five of their last six games in all competitions while playing some brilliant football.

The Bianconeri are fourth in the league, six points behind AC Milan while also securing qualification to UCL knockout stages as group winners and considering their current progress and Cristiano Ronaldo’s form, Andrea Pirlo can turn the Italian giants back as one of the contenders for European glory.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 09, 2020 01:23 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).

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