Like it or not, Saudi Arabia refuses to get off the international football map.
Last week all the headlines were talking about Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Al Nasser, and tonight will take place at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, the final of the Spanish Supercup, the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
And if you thought that this is where the Saudi carnival would end, then you are wrong.
Because on Thursday, an exhibition match between Paris Saint-Germain and a star team, which will include the players of Al Hilal and Al Nasser, will take place in the same stadium.
In other words: Cristiano Ronaldo versus Leo Messi.
It will be Ronaldo's first game as an Al Nasser player, three days before his debut in the Saudi league, when his team will play against Al Atifak.
And let there be no doubt, 70 thousand fans will fill the stands of the National Stadium tonight and also on Thursday, when the fans of Al Hilal and Al Nasser, the two top teams of Riyadh, will come to watch Ronaldo and the new world champion, Messi.
Arrives as a world champion for a prestigious meeting, photo: Getty Images
By the way, the one who will guide the Saudi star team will be Marcelo Gajardo, the famous Argentine coach, who left River Plate in November.
Is this a clue as to his next destination?
By the way, the Spanish media continue to claim that the champion Al Hilal intends to offer Messi a contract of 300 million euros per year (1.5 times Ronaldo's contract).
It is estimated that Messi intends to extend his contract at PSG until 2024. But what will happen after that?
Moving to the Saudi League in a year and a half is absolutely possible.
As you can understand, the Saudi government decided to invest in football massively, after seeing what the small neighbors, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have done in recent years.
Meeting in front of the flea on Thursday, photo: AP
That's why the Saudis bought Newcastle and that's why already in 2019 they agreed to pay the Spanish association 120 million euros to hold the Super Cup tournament with them for the first three years.
Meanwhile, the contract has been renewed until 2029, when the Saudis will pay Spain another 210 million euros for the additional seven years.
The Supercup plant began in Spain in 1982, when every summer, right before the start of the season, the champion and the cup holder would meet for two games.
But when the Saudis entered the picture, it was decided that the event would include four teams (and four games) and would take place in January.
In January 2020, Real Madrid won the title in Jeddah, when they beat Atlético Madrid in the final (which beat Barcelona in the semi-finals).
A year later, Athletic Bilbao beat Barcelona in the final, in a tournament held in Seville, due to the Corona epidemic.
And last year Real beat Bilbao in the final in Riyadh, after a dramatic 2:3 victory in the semi-finals over Barca.
Federico Valverde came on as a substitute and scored the winning goal in overtime.
For Xavi, appointed as Barcelona coach just two months before, it was a painful loss in his first Clasico on the lines.
Real Madrid players.
A prestigious meeting against Barcelona, photo: AP
But two months later, Xavi led Barca to a huge 0:4 victory at the Bernabeu.
It didn't stop Real Madrid from winning the championship, but it greatly strengthened Xavi's position.
arrive at a different momentum
arrive at a different momentum
Barcelona comes to the Clasico that will take place tonight in Riyadh as they are leading the Spanish league table, ahead of Real by 3 points.
Although they had a hard time in the Super Cup semi-final against Betis and beat them only on penalties, Real also had a hard time and beat Valencia on penalties in the corresponding semi-final.
Real is in a bad time.
She lost to Villarreal in her last league match, when before the World Cup break she was defeated by Rayo Waicano and ended in a draw against Girona.
Barcelona celebrates against Betis,
Barca, on the other hand, won their last game before going to Riyadh and beat Atletico Madrid 0:1 away, and count six wins and a draw in the last seven league games.
So it's true, it's not the league or the Champions League, but only the Super Cup.
But it's still the El Clasico, the most prestigious game in club football.
And even if it takes place very far from Spain, and even if the factory has become a money machine, when Real Madrid and Barcelona meet, the world holds its breath.
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