International friendlies are often devalued as meaningless games that carry no real significance, but when two of the biggest countries in world football come head to head the football world stands up and takes notice.

Portugal meet Argentina on November 18th in a game which has already been labelled as another Cristiano Ronaldo versus Lionel Messi clash, with unarguably the best players on the planet playing against one another for their respective countries. It not only promises to generate a bumper attendance in northwest England at Old Trafford, Manchester, but also attract millions of viewers across the globe as the world’s best players take centre stage.

Ronaldo currently holds the bragging rights after Real Madrid triumphed in the recent El Clasico against Barcelona, but Messi will hope to gain revenge for the 2014 World Cup runners-up who put seven past Hong Kong in their last friendly match. Backing Portugal to win with Betsafe could be made all the sweeter if Ronaldo turns on the magic, but there is the danger that Messi is more than capable of winning the game on his own for Argentina.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The 2013 Ballon d’Or winner has shown no signs of relenting in his pursuit of becoming the greatest player of all time, with continuously flawless performances for Real Madrid illustrating a player at the peak of his powers. Although Ronaldo was not at his best for Portugal during their disappointing World Cup campaign, albeit despite battling through the pain barrier caused by a knee injury to represent his country, he remains in a great position to retain his crown as the number one player in world football.

Scoring 17 goals in just 9 La Liga games this season has taken his record with Real Madrid to a mind-blowing 194 goals in Spain. Only Jonathan Soriano has scored more goals than Ronaldo in the calendar year, but the upcoming game against Argentina could be the perfect opportunity to further increase his goals tally and top the 2014 charts.

Lionel Messi

The four-time Ballon d’Or winner may miss out the prestigious award this year, but the mercurial Argentinian rightly deserves his place alongside Ronaldo as the best players in the world. They stand head and shoulders above the rest, with Messi showing signs of recovering the fire in his belly this season and recapturing the sort of form that meets his, and everyone else’s, highest expectations. Equalling Raul’s long-standing record of 71 goals in the Champions League at the age of 27 highlights what a special talent Messi is, although Ronaldo is right on his shoulder on 70 goals.

International form

Both players have often been criticised for not reproducing the same level of performance at international level as they do for their respective clubs, although both have tended to redress the club-country performance gap in recent years. Manchester United’s famous “Theatre of Dreams” is the perfect stage to add to their astonishing feats while wearing the shirts of their respective nations.

by Michael Georgiou

Overall Rating (1)

4 out of 5 stars

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  • Sad to say but Argentina have way more talent on their squad, this will be humbling

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  • Guest - Michael

    Rated 4 out of 5 stars

    This will be a tough one for portugal...Portugal have had a hard time scoring in recent games but its gunna take time for the guys to build up a bit more chemistry. Argentina have such a great front three its gunna be a tough battle. I like the new team changes Santos has made. Even tho this is a friendly this game means a lot to Portugese players (ronaldo of course) and all of us fans. I am extremly nervous as always and I can only hope and pray that we smash em!!!!!!. FORCA PORTUGAL!

    from Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Guest - mike/lourinha

    I like the fact that Santos is bring respect and credibility back to the selecao. We are seeing the reintroduction of vets like tiago, Ricardo carvalho, quaresma and even bosingawa... But the fact of the matter is that we need our youth to play a bigger part and these friendlies against strong opponets are the time to do so. For example like to see how Andre Gomes faces off against the likes of garay, Andre silva doing battle against Enzo in the midfield, or William protecting the back line from runs of Messi and di maria. Let's put our youth who will carry us forward to the test.

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  • Guest - Paulo

    Yes, Argentina has way more talent and depth. But only 11 players are on the field at a time, and Portugal is more than capable. I do agree the current team has not impressed yet, but this will be the game.... I hope. Forca!

    from United States
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  • Guest - NJ/USA/SLB

    Last time I checked this match was a friendly. The main concern is of anyone should come away with any injuries. Just go ask Real of they prefer the 1.6 million compensation or Modric, not getting hurt.
    This match will enrich the coffers of the FPF, and hopefully put to good use. I doubts that it will.

    That being said these two great players have huge egos and would love nothing more but defeat the other. Cristiano always wants the showcase himself, especially in Manchester.
    The problem will be that Argentina is a much more talented squad. From the starting players to the bench, there's just too much there.
    I hope that we play well and Cristiano gets his goal(s). The final score is irrelevant unless it's a blowout.

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  • Guest - antonio/orlando

    Of course my heart and patriotism wants us to win!! however only a few months back one went to the final other was sent home. Yes we might say its an exhibition but really guys if argentina can duplicate a Germany -brasil score they would be very happy. and quiet frankly I am afraid of that. At WC we complain about players age and now is worst than then. I will not be very surprise with a 4-2 argentina way, Hope I am totally wrong but our quality at this time is no where near of theirs!!!

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  • Guest - robbie

    It's such a shame we portuguese are such a negative people. I remember 2011, when we last played, Argentina won with a 90th minute pk. Before CR7 was taken off I would say we created more chances. It was a different time, yes, but Messi was in better form then.

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  • Guest - Ivo

    On paper, you'd have to give this to Argentina on the basis of their squad depth. While it used to be the case that Argentina's defense was its weakness, you can't really say that anymore given that they have players like Garay, Rojo, Campagnaro, Zabaleta and Demichelis (sure he's a bit overrated, but he's dependable most of the time) to call on. Even their goalkeeping isn't that bad, with guys like Cabalero and Romero. I'm not going to say anything about their midfield and forwards because everybody knows how talented they are. Absolute filth. And on top of all this quality is the fact that most if not all of their key players are in or near their prime right now and playing exceptionally well at club level (Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, Tevez and even Higuain have all been really good recently).

    Portugal on the otherhand is in a transition phase with a new coach, missing players due to injury, doesn't seem to have settled on a distinct lineup and is fielding a mixture of relatively inexperienced youth and veterans like Carvalho, Tiago and Bosingwa. And, of course, the fact that someone like Helder Postiga is still in this squad is still disturbing. The two Euopean qualifying victories were of course welcome, but not very encouraging given that we had to scrape by both games. I like what Santos is doing as for as team selection is concerned, but there is much work to be done.



    The only saving grace is that friendlies are often difficult to predict because of the tinkering and experimentation that goes on, not to mention the possibility of multiple substitutions adding an element of surprise, so anything can happen. Portugal are really in need of goals right now so I would like to a strong offensive performance today, be a catalyst for improvements during the games that matter. Unfortunately I don't see us winning this game, which wouldn't be the end of the world in any case.

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  • Hey Paul,

    Let's cool down with the exaggeration ok? Argentina is WAY more talented? Really? They are WC finalists but they also had a much easier run than the Germans did and ultimately lost. I think the talent and depth argument is starting to turn in Portugal's favour, mainly due to Paulo Bento being gone. Fernando Santos' teams are actually much deeper just because he actually selects from all possible options.

    If this was Argentina vs the Bento 11, I'd agree with you. But in selecting guys like Danny, Quaresma, Tiago, Carvalho, Andre Gomes and others, I would argue Portugal's depth and indeed talent is much closer to Argentina's than it was say, 5 months ago. The thing in this game that will make the difference is tactics. I think Santos will use this as a chance to fine-tune his defence. Tiago and Moutinho will start, and as much as I love Tiago, I think William is our undisputed #6. Also, and this is from a Portista who is a huge Moutinho fan, Joao needs to sit. Adrien or Joao Mario deserve a shot at his spot right now.

    Either way, I see a quieter performance today as our boys work on defensive cohesion and chemistry before getting back to club games for the rest of 2014.

    Cheers

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