Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo – a rivalry that has defined a generation, two players who have stood above everyone else and dominated the world of football. Such has been their dominance that the two have shared the last 9 Ballon d’Ors between them.
Between them they have won 13 league titles (10 in Spain alone), 7 UEFA Champions Leagues and countless other trophies, apart from breaking almost every record that is there. However, they are all but mere mortals and as such can be stopped with the right combination of determination, grit and intelligence.
Apart from that you also need to be in luck for either of the two to have an off day or for you to be at your brilliant best. There are 5 such defenders who have managed to pull off this incredible feat of stopping arguably modern era’s two most unstoppable players and for that they deserve our hat tip and acknowledgment.
When all is said and done, there are 5 players who have managed to pull off this incredible feat of stopping both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, obviously, they did have some help from their teammates too. When the modern greats look back on these encounters they will feel that they could have done better during the game but it is done and cannot be changed.
So without further ado, we take a look at the 5 players who have stopped Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi:
Arne Friedrich vs Cristiano Ronaldo
UEFA Euro 2008 quarter-final (Portugal 2-3 Germany)
In the quarter-final of Euro 2008, Germany came face to face against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Die Mannschaft were looking to reach the semi-final of the competition for the first time since 1996 while Portugal were looking to vanquish the ghosts of the defeat against Greece in the final of Euro 2004 at home.
However, at St. Jakob-Park it was Joachim Low’s side who prevailed courtesy of a 3-2 win over Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side. The Germans took the lead through Bastian Schweinsteiger before Miroslav Klose doubled the lead, Portugal pulled one back through Nuno Gomes but Michael Ballack hit them with the sucker punch. Scolari’s side pulled one back in the closing minutes of the game through Helder Postiga but were unable to force the game into extra-time thereby crashing out of the tournament in the quarter-final stage for the first time in 8 years.
Ronaldo was subdued for much of the game and it was the genius of Friedrich at right-back that didn’t allow the Portuguese to have a desired impact on the game. Ronaldo did get the better of the German on one occasion, which led to the latter’s booking, however, that was the only time in that 90 minutes that he got the better of the lanky German.
Friedrich along with some help from Per Mertesacker was able to shackle Ronaldo, denying him the space or the time to do the damage that we all know he is capable of. The loss ended another promising campaign for Ronaldo and company as their search for that elusive maiden international honour lingered. Germany progressed to lose to Spain in the final of the tournament.