Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi Set for Old Trafford Portugal vs. Argentina Game

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 2, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 25:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (L) shakes hands with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid prior to the Copa del Rey quarter final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou on January 25, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will go head-to-head on English soil later this year, with Portugal and Argentina set to meet in an international friendly at Old Trafford in November, as reported by Marca (Spanish) and covered by

The fixture will, of course, likely see Manchester United players Marcos Rojo and Angel Di Maria represent their country on what is now their home ground. However, it will almost certainly be the presence of both Messi and Ronaldo, the latter a former Old Trafford hero himself, which will take the headlines.

However, while a highly enticing prospect, the report does state that the match is yet to be officially confirmed by the Argentine Football Association. When announced, the game will likely be set for Nov. 18.

The Ballon d'Or award has become central to the storylines involving the pair
The Ballon d'Or award has become central to the storylines involving the pairMichael Probst/Associated Press

The rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo for the title of best player in world football has been a defining feature of the narrative surrounding the sport in recent years, with both players excelling continually for half a decade or more.

Pitched firmly on opposite sides of the El Clasico divide in Spain, their presence has been a major reason behind the fixture's huge global appeal that has developed over recent seasons. Barcelona and Real Madrid is now a clash that captivates supporters the world over.

The next fixture between the two sides, coming on Oct. 26 in the Primera Division, comes just weeks ahead of the proposed Old Trafford fixture.

It is not often that Messi and Ronaldo lock horns away from their clubs, though, having met just once in the colours of their national sides.

As the Telegraph's Paul Hayward tweets, Messi this week drew level with Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of Champions League career goals only for the Portuguese to add one more to his tally on Wednesday night.

Taking place in Geneva in February 2011, Argentina emerged 2-1 victors from the first clash between the two countries since 1972. As this report from the Guardian's Paul Doyle shows, that match too was dominated by the storyline involving the two sides' foremost stars.

On that occasion, it was Argentine Messi's last-minute penalty that ensured it was he who emerged victorious from the duo's private battle.

What makes the prospect of the Old Trafford fixture even more enticing is that both players are currently enjoying outstanding starts to the season following injury concerns at various stages of the summer and last season.

Fans of both players delight in success over their rival
Fans of both players delight in success over their rivalPaul White/Associated Press

In September alone, the pair contributed a combined 14 goals and eight assists per statistics. If there was any suggestion that age had begun to take its toll on their performances, those fears have been quickly dismissed.

Fans in Manchester will be quick to back former idol Ronaldo, who has been linked with a return to United on a permanent basis, as the Independent's Simon Rice reports.

However, favouritism and potential transfers aside, the opportunity to see the two leading players in the game on the same pitch is never one to be missed and the game should be a real treat for UK-based supporters of the two sides.