Old Trafford new chapter in Messi-Ronaldo rivalry

Sun Nov 16, 2014 3:08pm EST
 
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By Rex Gowar

LONDON (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo’s second Old Trafford home-coming will be another highly-charged affair with big rival Lionel Messi leading Argentina in their friendly with Portugal on Tuesday.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford for the first time after leaving Manchester United in 2009 when Real Madrid beat United 2-1 with his winning goal in a Champions League tie in March last year, but he can expect plenty of support this time from fans who would love him to make a permanent move back.

The Portugal captain will not have it all his own way, though, given the backing the Manchester-based Argentine colony in coach Gerardo Martino’s squad can also expect in the two great players’ 27th clash though only the second at national level.

Messi, on top in their head-to-head record with 12 wins to Ronaldo's seven and the remainder drawn, gave Argentina a 2-1 win with a late penalty in a February 2011 friendly in Geneva after Ronaldo had scored Portugal’s equalizer.

Carlos Tevez, recalled for the first time since July 2011, will also be looking for a part, having played for both United and Manchester City who provide Argentina with three players including Sergio Aguero.

Tevez and Aguero, though, look set to start on the bench with Gonzalo Higuain taking the center forward role as coach Martino looks to give most of his squad a game on their two-match tour in England that started with Wednesday's 2-1 win over Croatia in London.

RIGHT WING

Messi, whose winning penalty against Croatia was his 45th goal in his 96th international, played on the right wing -- nominally Ronaldo's position too -- where Martino believes he can best serve the team with three top candidates vying for the center forward role, Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Tevez.   Continued...

 
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) reacts as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo walks during their Spanish first division "Clasico" soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid October 25, 2014.      REUTERS/Juan Medina