By Tim Stannard
As Ronaldo struggles for fitness and form, Messi keeps on keeping on for Barcelona
Messi v Ronaldo....it's been too long.
An on-pitch and on-line rivalry that helped shape the internet into the wonderful, loving organism that it is today - full of good-spirited debate and hearty cheer - has been in mothballs for a while.
CR7 moving to the Phantom Zone of Serie A by swapping Real Madrid for Juventus along with trophies being handed out to other figures such as Luka Modric (remember him?) and Virgil Van Dijk meant that the rivalry and ever-engaging debate over who is best was sporadic.
However, this weekend saw a direct contrast between the imperious pair once again with both making headlines for - as a local TV reporter might say - completely different reasons.
Let's start off with Cristiano Ronaldo. For the second time in a week, the player was substituted for Juventus and for the second time in the week, CR7 didn't look too happy about it either.
Indeed, Juve boss Maurizio Sarri took Ronaldo off after just 55 minutes of the home match against Milan with the footballer disappearing into the locker room and leaving the stadium three minutes before the game was over.
Sarri, suspecting that appeasing noises might be required, praised the player saying that "we must thank Ronaldo" for pushing through the pain barrier due to a knee problem that the Portuguese poacher is currently enduring.
The player who replaced Ronaldo, Paolo Dybala, ended up scoring the winner in a traditional 1-0 win for Juventus.
While Sarri was sorry, Italian stalwart, Fabio Capello, was less sympathetic to Ronaldo's reaction to be being subbed by claiming that "you must be a champion when you are replaced" and take a place on the bench with teammates.
"He hasn't dribbled past anyone for three years," scoffed Capello for good measure.
The Sports Burst live show might be coaxed into the Messi v Ronaldo debate once again at 12PM ET on beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page.
Messi returns to Argentina camp for Brazil battle
None of this is a problem for Lionel Messi who strides into Monday and the international break with a hat-trick bagged for Barcelona in Saturday's 4-1 win over Celta Vigo, a performance that included two direct free-kicks.
This has the local papers pondering whether Messi's performances and eight league goals so far this season will put the player into the running for another Ballon d'Or victory. Aside from perhaps Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool, competitors seem few and far between.
While Messi may be over the moon at the start of the week, that buzz might only last a matter of days as the player is back with the Argentina fold after suspension.
The Albiceleste have gathered in Mallorca for the next few days before a monumental double-header against Brazil (in Saudi Arabia) and Uruguay (in Israel). Brazil v Argentina is live on beIN SPORTS on Friday at 11:50AM ET, of course.
Hope Solo is on Weekend Winners this weekend and will look at how she would try and stop his fantastic free-kicks.
Neymar makes temporary return to Barcelona
One megastar who unfortunately won't be featuring in that classic encounter is Neymar. However the footballer was in Barcelona this weekend hanging out in city where he may never play again.
After viewing PSG's win at Brest, Neymar headed to Barcelona to hang out a little bit and mix it up at a nightclub.
Neymar's Dad also spoke to suggest that occasional visits to the city on free days are all that his son will be able to enjoy in the near future saying that he had no plans to travel to Europe to attempt further negotiations on a departure from PSG to Barcelona.
The footballer returned to Paris on Monday where he is set to return to full training with PSG and could be ready for the club's next Ligue 1 game against Lille.
Monday Night Soccer has its conspiracy hat on today and it could be good news for Neymar with Jamie Easton digging into the fan theory of whether Leo Messi really has frozen out Antoine Griezmann on the pitch, in protest that it is not Neymar alongside him. "Veeeeeery interesting," says our Jamie.
MNS gets going at 8PM ET preceded by Magisterial: The Ray Hudson Show at 7:30PM ET.