Riyadh: The reunion of soccer’s two biggest rivals started Thursday with Lionel Messi watching Inter Miami take on Al Nassr from the bench and Cristiano Ronaldo sitting high up in the stands.
Ronaldo had been ruled out because of a calf injury and Messi surprised fans in Saudi Arabia by sitting on the sidelines as the MLS team kicked off.
Messi and Ronaldo were longtime rivals when they played in Spain — for Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively — and have combined to win 13 of the last 15 Ballon d’Or awards given to the world’s best player.
The latest installment of that rivalry was seen as the highlight of Miami’s pre-season tour, which included two games in Saudi Arabia.
But that was put in doubt when Ronaldo sustained an injury that prompted Al Nassr to postpone two exhibition matches in China this month.
Messi scored in his team's 4-3 defeat to Al Hilal on Monday.
Inter Miami’s pre-season tour continues in Asia with visits to Hong Kong and Japan.