THE two giant egos of European football will collide this evening for what is likely to be the final time in their remarkable careers.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus know a win against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s AC Milan will put them one step closer to winning the Serie A title for the ninth consecutive year.
Their final time sharing a pitch will mark the end of an era for two players who have enjoyed a terrific rivalry both on and off the pitch.
It will mark the 13th time the pair have gone up against each other with Ronaldo coming out on top with five wins while Ibrahimovic has celebrated just two victories against the Portuguese legend.
Those epic encounters include Clasicos, six Champions League clashes, and a dramatic 2014 World Cup play-off where Ronaldo bagged a famous hat-trick and Ibra scored twice in Portugal’s memorable 3-2 win.
With a combined age of 73, the veterans have seen and won it all with 36 major trophies between them across five different countries.
Ibrahimovic pips Ronaldo when it comes to counting his league titles with an impressive 11 to his name.
Two of those came at Ajax, three at Inter Milan, one at Barcelona, one with AC Milan and four with Paris Saint-Germain.
But one trophy that eludes him remains the most prestigious of all… the Champions League.
Ronaldo will be happy to remind the towering Swede that he has lifted it five times, four of which came at Real Madrid and one with Manchester United.
It is also the same number of Ballon d’Or trophies he has won while Ibrahimovic only mustered a fourth-place finish in 2013.
Ronaldo’s goalscoring feats are also incomparable with an astonishing 630 career club goals and counting in 844 appearances.
Ibrahimovic’s goal record is nothing to be sniffed at averaging a goal every 1.67 games.
Both players have also been their country’s talismen for years with 330 caps between them.
Ronaldo is just one goal away from reaching a century for Portugal while Ibrahimovic bagged 62 before calling his international retirement in 2016.
Both remain the all-time leading goalscorers for their respective nations.
When Ronaldo moved to Juventus for £99.2million in the summer of 2018, he became one of the four most expensive players in world football.
It also meant his total career transfer fee totalled £191.4m after a £12.2m move from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United in 2003 and then a £80m switch to Real Madrid.
It’s £65.8m more than Ibrahimovic despite the striker playing for nine different clubs.
While Ronaldo is used to doing his talking on the pitch, Ibrahimovic has not been shy in criticising his counterpart publically in the past.
When Ronaldo moved to Juve, Ibrahimovic said: “We’ll see each other: I will go to a team which must win again.
“The real Ronaldo is Brazilian. I’m not going to find the true one in Italy.
“Cristiano’s talent refers to many years of work and it’s not a natural talent.”
The feud was reignited in 2019 when Lionel Messi pipped Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or award – a ceremony in which the Portuguese star failed to show up.
In typical-Ibra fashion, he said: “Cristiano Ronaldo got tired of watching Lionel Messi win the Ballon d’or from the best seat so he decided not to attend the ceremony.”
But Ronaldo will be desperate to have the last say in one final encounter tonight.