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Messi and Ronaldo’s World Cup exit
draws tributes from Chinese fans

By Sportswriter Yao Youming BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- The exit of Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal from the World Cup on Sunday has aroused a wide array of responses from Chinese fans.

Some are decrying the departure of the two giants as the end of an era given their advanced age, while others are taking a more circumspect view.

Fans in the soccer-mad country have always wanted to see the two super stars in a head-to-head match in the quarterfinal round, but the first two matches of the last 16 round have disappointed them.

“Messi will be 35 years old when 2022’s tournament opens, and Ronaldo will be 37. We may never see their World Cup clash,” said an Internet user “Miluo” on the popular sports chatroom Hupu.

A news story about their exit on Chinese soccer app Dongqiudi had attracted more than 25,000 comments just two hours after the round of 16 games finished.

“Both of them are super stars with great skills and good reputations. They carry more responsibilities and pressure than others,” said Chinese women’s international Ren Guixin.

There has always been argument among Chinese fans about which of the two FIFA World Players of the Year is better, but after the two stars’ heartbreaking defeats, fans of both Messi and Ronaldo have given up attacking each other.

“We shall thank them for giving us wild joy in the past two weeks,” an internet user “a flying teenager” said in his account on sina weibo, a twitter-like Chinese social media.

“We shall thank them for accompanying us during these years. No king rules forever, our youth has to come to an end,” added the netizen.

Both Messi and Ronaldo are five-time Ballon d’Or winners, but have failed to lift the World Cup trophy during their outstanding careers.

“Winning the World Cup or not doesn’t affect their greatness. Ferenc Puskas, Marco Van Basten, Roberto Baggio, or Just Fontaine are not World Cup winners, but they are all soccer legends,” Internet user “Nasituolewan” commented on Dongqiudi.

Messi and Ronaldo made their World Cup debuts in 2006. In 2018, they both led their teams into the last 16, only to exit the World Cup in the space of just four hours as the knockout stages kicked off. It is still unclear whether the two can participate in the 2022 World Cup.

Comparing Messi and Ronaldo’s World Cup experiences to a dream pursuing journey, Chinese fans praised the two super stars’ courage and determination.

“We hold the same dream with the great footballers and we don’t regret having such a wonderful dream. Our only wish is that the dream would last a bit longer,” said user “Water Child” on China’s social networking app Wechat.



Argentine media reacts: ‘We hope this isn’t the end for Messi’

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Argentina’s press lamented the end of an era and questioned whether Lionel Messi would play in another World Cup after the Albiceleste’s 4-3 loss to France on Saturday.

The result dumped two-time winners Argentina out of football’s flagship tournament while France advanced to the round of 16 in Russia.

“Argentina lost to France and are eliminated. It is the team’s worst performance at a World Cup since 2002,” La Nacion said on its web portal.

Ole wondered if five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi had the desire to play in another World Cup.

“With Argentina eliminated, the big question is whether Leo, already at 35, will go to Qatar in 2022,” it said in an editorial.

The newspaper praised the performance of teenage forward Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice, devastating Argentina with his raw pace and power.

“France proved too much and gave us a reality check,” Ole said. “It was a great match which went from 2-1 to 2-4 in the space of 11 minutes. Mbappe tore it apart. We hope this isn’t the end for Messi.”

Clarin said: “The dream is over: France showed no mercy toward Argentina and sent the team home. There was an angel overlooking Argentina which kept the team in the match until the end. But the result was inevitable.”

It suggested the team would need to be rebuilt immediately with a new generation of young players.

“The last tango was in Kazan and it is time for a period of reconstruction,” the newspaper opined. “The defeat to France marks the end of the cycle of a generation of players.”

It added that Argentina had done well to reach the final of three major tournaments in recent years - the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa America and the 2016 Copa America - despite having won nothing.

“Here [in Russia] we saw an indomitable Mascherano, pure heart and leadership. But it wasn’t enough. Messi was bright and dark. Angel Di Maria was on and off. But there was no team, no game. There was courage and embarrassment until the powerful France put things in their place,” it concluded.



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