By Tim Stannard
Messi vs. Ronaldo set to move into vintage mode as Mbappe vs Haaland take center stage after Champions League triumphs
Mbappe vs. Haaland - let's start with the semantics. Literally.
The internet was already sizing this potential pair of supreme poachers up a year ago when Erling Haaland broke onto the scene as a teen super-strikers with RB Salzburg and then Borussia Dortmund, with comparisons being made to Kylian Mbappe.
But the question remains on whether the new burgeoning rivalry will be called 'Mbappe vs. Haaland' - seniority in age and titles won, or 'Haaland vs. Mbappe' - alphabetical order, which was the protocol followed with Messi vs. Ronaldo. A Google search is showing a rough 50:50 split. Before y'all are going to give an answer, the question needs to be framed.
There was a definite baton-being-handed-over vibe in the Champions League this week with Mbappe and Haaland scoring five goals between them for PSG and Borussia Dortmund respectively to put both sides in the comfy driving seat in their teams' Champions League ties against Barcelona and Sevilla.
Both players definitely showed signs of a good ten years of internet bickering over which pair is the GOTE - the Greatest of Their Era (Copyright Sports Burst 2021) - with five beautifully-taken goals to add to the constant strikes being racked up for their clubs in league action.
Mbappe and Haaland have nicely defined characters to help brand the process. Words like 'joy' and 'free spirit' are used with Mbappe - although reportedly threatening to bump off poor Jordi Alba in the street don't help - while his Norwegian counterpart can be amusingly surly and sarcastic with a dusting of arrogance. Haaland is the one most likely to release Tom Brady-style 'told-you-so' videos.
The Sports Burst show will our Gabrielle Amado and Ray Hudson will start digging into this rivalry as well as look back at another grim week for Barcelona. Head to our beIN SPORTS Facebook page at 12PM ET.
A match for every taste in the Champions League
While the Champions League is running in drips and drabs with four games a week in the Last 16 stages, the Europa League is going all in today with all 16 matches being played on Thursday in a nerd-fest super slam.
Shiniest of all in the list sees Real Sociedad taking on Manchester United. The 101 - local club with homegrown players against the polar opposite.
We have 'the one which is like a fancy European DJ dueling match in a swish bar' - Lille vs. Ajax.
There's 'the one that Mikel Arteta is probably going to regret one way or another' - Benfica v Arsenal.
Up next - 'are you sure you don't mean Celtic?' - Antwerp vs. Rangers.
Or 'the one where it's a genuinely real shame there aren't any fans' - Granada vs. Napoli.
And finally 'the one I'm going to pretend to watch, post about it on social media, just to show off and look pretentiously cool, even though I'll actually be watching the Manchester United game or The Masked Singer from my DVR. Like our Eric Krakauer for example' - Molde vs. Hoffenheim.
Big weekend on beIN just a day away
Just one day to go until the title races in LaLiga and Ligue 1 get underway on beIN SPORTS. Rather excitedly all eight teams in the top four of Spain and France will be in action live across four blistering days on the network.
Lyon will get things underway on Friday at 3PM ET. Three points at Brest will put Rudi Garcia's side back to the top of the standings in France, although Lille and PSG also have a chance to take top spot on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid either dropped two points on Wednesday at Levante or extended their lead at the top of the table by a point in a 1-1 draw - depending on your point of view - but are playing Levante yet again on Saturday with Real Madrid at Real Valladolid - it's going to be cold - and happy-go-lucky Barcelona trying not lose for a second time this season against Cadiz.
Meanwhile AFCON U-20 continues for free, free, free on beIN XTRA with Tunisia vs. Namibia at 11AM ET followed by Central African Republic taking on Burkina Faso at 2PM ET.