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Messi Vs. Ronaldo Only Reinforces The World’s Desire To See Messi On Another Team

Thank you Barcelona, but that’s more than enough.

The 36th and perhaps final meeting between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ended fittingly at the Camp Nou on Tuesday with Juventus strolling to a 3-0 win against a sad, soft and directionless Barcelona. It’s all too evident why Messi — like Ronaldo before him at Real Madrid — is ready to move on.

While Messi still holds the all-time head-to-head advantage with 16 wins compared to 11 for Ronaldo, the Portuguese attacker maintains the edge in Champions League titles with five, whereas Messi has four and very, very little chance of a fifth this season. For Andrea Pirlo’s men, there’s at least some semblance of hope. 

The Juve win, earned through two Ronaldo penalties and one Weston McKennie wonder strike, gave the Italian side top spot in Group G while Barcelona approaches the Round of 16 as runner-up. Yes, that opens up the possibility of Barça immediately drawing Bayern Munich, and yes, that would almost certainly lead to a heavier aggregate defeat than last year’s six-goal margin.  

The team ethos has entirely disappeared from Barcelona. Messi doesn’t want to be there (see: burofax). Antoine Griezmann spends every day defending his own personal legacy. Miralem Pjanić is more worried about his own minutes than Barça’s league position. It’s not surprising that Sergiño Dest — a childhood supporter of the club who obviously cares — was the team’s main outlet going forward. 

For a right back to do that in the shadow cast by Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquests and Barcelona’s longstanding romance with tempo-controlling midfielders says it all. This is an unrecognizable team with no clear purpose. It’s over. Messi’s six attempted shots on Gianluigi Buffon felt decrepitly old, both literally, when figuring the combined age of 75, and figuratively.    

Missing here was the thousand-yard Messi stare that serves as the main image for every Barcelona collapse. This wasn’t shattering for the 33-year-old — as was the case against Roma, Liverpool and Bayern — this was expected.  

Juve’s opening goal in the 13th minute was in accordance with the run of play, but it was soft as hell. The 35-year-old Ronaldo attempted to beat the 21-year-old Ronald Araújo with pace in the area but that wasn’t happening. The two went shoulder-to-shoulder and Ronaldo crumpled in a heap, however, Tobias Stieler ruled that touching CR7 is illegal. 

Ronaldo sent his penalty down the middle while Marc-André ter Stegen went the wrong way. 

The second Juve goal arrived seven minutes later through Weston McKennie. It was glorious.

Ronaldo’s second penalty, awarded and converted in the 52nd minute, was spotted by the VAR after Clément Lenglet used his arm to steer the ball away from McKennie in the area.

It’s clear that Ronaldo sprinting around an empty Camp Nou screaming “SIIIIIIUUUUU” after converting penalties doesn't do anything in the Messi vs. Ronaldo debate, but we can all come to one unanimous decision: Barcelona isn't very good. The fact that the club forced Messi to stay, from a financial and now sporting aspect, looks more and more ridiculous with every passing day.  

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