Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are without question legends in the UEFA Champions League, but this year—and for the first time in 15 years—football fans will miss their skills in the last eight of the competition.
Doom and Gloom in Turin and Barcelona
Ronaldo, 36, and the Italian powerhouse of Juventus lost 4-4 on away goals to FC Porto in their home stadium on Wednesday. The Portuguese superstar failed to score in either leg of the tie.
The upset by Porto became even more impressive after they had to play almost a half with only ten men after Medhi Taremi received a red card. Losing once again to Porto, Ronaldo must have experienced deja vu from his earlier days playing for Sporting Lisbon in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Messi, 33, and his beloved FC Barcelona were unable to overturn a 4-1 deficit from their first leg defeat to Paris Saint Germain. They tied 1-1 at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Wednesday, with goals scored by Messi and Kylian Mbappé.
Speculation resurfaced about Messi wanting a transfer away from the Nou Camp, possibly to PSG, but Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman said his club’s 'great future' may persuade the Argentine to stay at the club.
No Ronaldo or Messi—Now What?
Football fans need not worry about the final eight teams lacking exciting, skilful players. With Ronaldo and Messi edging closer to the apex of their careers, there is a new generation of talent in Europe ready to show their mettle.
One obvious name is Mbappé, who scored four goals total against Barcelona to knock them out. The Frenchman has been a rising star internationally since his days for AS Monaco and France at the 2018 World Cup.
A newer player on everyone’s radar now is Erling Haaland, the Norwegian playing for BVB Dortmund. The tall, blonde-haired forward has scored 19 goals in 19 games in the Bundesliga, and 10 goals in just six matches in the Champions League.