Copy of 492791-01-02-1669028483710
An art school student gives the final touches to a painting of football stars Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Lionel Messi in Mumbai. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Lionel Messi has made it clear that this will be his last World Cup finals and I think the Argentina superstar will go out with a bang by helping his team win the title.

But, wouldn’t it be great if he was to face Portugal in the final meaning we would get to see him face-off against Cristiano Ronaldo, who is also set to retire from the international set up? Now that would be a tasty clash.

They are arguably the two best players of all time. Messi is now 35 and Ronaldo is 37 and if the pair were to meet in the final on December 18 in Lusail it would be an early Christmas present for football fans all over the world.

Who is better?

In fact, you couldn’t write a better script. These two have won every piece of silverware and dominated the game for years but the question remains - who is better? Indeed the Ronaldo Vs Messi conundrum is the biggest in football since the Diego Maradona or Pele debate.

Neither Messi or Ronaldo have lifted the Jules Rimet trophy. It would cap a fine career if either of them were to do it. But for them to meet in the final both teams would first need to win their respective groups.

Argentina are in Group C along with Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. They should easily finish top while Portugal will fancy their chances of topping Group H what with Ghana, South Korea and Uruguay their challengers.

If they do both top their respective groups they would then be in separate halves of the draw. I think Argentina would likely face Denmark in the Round of 16 and then the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. A semifinal against Brazil could be next.

Settle the debate

As for Portugal, they would probably face Serbia in the Round of 16, Belgium in the quarters and England in the semis.

It would be a fitting end to Messi and Ronaldo’s international careers if they were to face off on the biggest stage in the world and settle the debate of who is better one and for all.

My money is on Argentina going all the way because on current form of the number 10. He is the only player to record 10 assists across Europe’s top five leagues this season. He has been fabulous for Paris Saint-Germain while Ronaldo has been struggling badly at Manchester United having fallen out with coach Erik Ten Hag.

But, you still can’t rule him out, because, this is Ronaldo we’re talking about. He needs one goal in Qatar to become the first player in World Cup history to score in five different tournaments and I can see him grabbing at least a couple against Ghana who are the lowest-ranked side in the tournament.