Saudi Arabia divided as fans choose between Messi and Cristiano

On Monday night, Inter Miami played the first of two friendly matches in Saudi Arabia with Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s side falling to Saudi Pro League leaders Al Hilal (4-3). The MLS side featured Messi and Suárez as part of a forward line and were two goals behind after 12 minutes. Despite rallying in the contest, poor defending was the Miami side’s undoing as thoughts now turn to Thursday night and a meeting against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr side.

A packed Kingdom Arena on Monday featured plenty of Argentina national shirts with even a few Messi banners on display but there were also a series of jeers directed at the Inter Miami captain as he touched the ball with Michael celebrating Al Hilal’s third goals with the trademark Cristiano skip, jump and ‘Siiiiiii’ celebration which was warmly applauded by many of the supporters present at the game.

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Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi during the warm upAHMED YOSRIREUTERS

Cristiano vs Messi next Thursday

Ahead of Thursday’s game, there were serious doubts surrounding the fitness levels of the Al-Nassr captain but in the past few days the message coming from the Saudi camp have been more positive and it does appear that the Portuguese striker will play some part in Thursday’s game with many anxious to see what could be the last time the two undisputed icons of the game in recent time share a pitch together.

Inter Miami will also be hoping that the game affords the MLS side the chance to secure the first win of their pre-season activity having now drawn one game and recorded two defeats.

Inter Miami's Argentine forward #10 Lionel Messi celebrates with his Uruguayan forward #09 Luis Suarez

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Inter Miami’s Argentine forward #10 Lionel Messi celebrates with his Uruguayan forward #09 Luis SuarezFAYEZ NURELDINEAFP

The Al Nassr game will also serve to ensure that the likes of Messi, Suárez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba secure more playing time as the start of the MLS season looms large on the horizon with plenty of work still ahead for the Argentine manager who will be particularly concerned about Monday’s defensive performance against al Hilal.

When will Al-Nassr vs Inter Miami be played ?

The game between Al-Nassr – Inter Miami will be played in Riyadh on Thursday February 1, with kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. PT.


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