For well over a decade now, two names have dominated not just European football but also the global game. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both living legends, boasting more individual and club honours between them than any other players on the planet.
However, their majesty begins to fade, and two eager and ambitious fresh princes have emerged. Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland have set their sights on the throne, ready to become the new kings of the beautiful game.
The New Kings of European Football
Messi Overshadowed by Magnificent Mbappe
Thanks to their emphatic 4-1 victory away at the Camp Nou, the second leg encounter at Parc des Princes should be little more than a formality for Paris Saint-Germain. They were just too good for a decrepit and somewhat disorganised Barcelona.
Outright odds to win the Champions League are now 5/1 at William Hill, with the French outfit now considered one of the three leading candidates for success. Only reigning champions Bayern Munich and Manchester City are priced at slightly better 3/1 odds.
A legend and a future legend 😍
But this moment belonged to Kylian Mbappe 💪 pic.twitter.com/hrov3hoznW
— Goal (@goal) February 17, 2021
Despite scoring the opening goal via the penalty spot, the performance of Lionel Messi paled into insignificance, compared to that of Kylian Mbappe. The 22-year-old was in unstoppable form, smashing in a superb hat-trick and too fast for the Barcelona defence to contain. One image pretty much summed up the Frenchman’s night, as Gerard Pique desperately grabbing at his shirt turned into a viral meme, as the striker unstoppably raced past.
Cristiano Crestfallen, Erling Excellent
After winning four Champions League titles with Real Madrid, more of the same was expected at Juventus for Cristiano Ronaldo. Aside from the domestic dominance in Italy, the European dream has yet to be fulfilled, the Portuguese star alone unable to provide that guarantee.
Once again, the elite European title looks like it could be beyond reach, following a frustrating night in his homeland. Basically, the ‘Old Lady’ had her bag snatched by Porto, while Ronaldo himself put in a disappointing performance, as Juventus endured a toothless 2-1 defeat.
Sevilla hadn’t conceded a goal in seven games.
Then, they met Erling Haaland. pic.twitter.com/dsG1CkHWkn
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 17, 2021
Meanwhile, not so far away across the border in Spain, 20-year-old Erling Haaland scored a brace of goals for Borussia Dortmund, as they gained a priceless first leg 3-2 away victory in Sevilla. For the German outfit, their talismanic striker made all the difference.
For the Norwegian sensation, scoring is almost like a sixth sense, taking his tally for the current season to 24 goals in 25 games, eight of which have come in just five Champions League outings. It’s no wonder he’s widely tipped to finish as top scorer in the competition.
What Next for These Superstars?
Messi almost certain to leave Barcelona this summer, and PSG could be his next destination. Whether that will be alongside Mbappe remains to be seen, with Real Madrid expected to be his next club, sooner or later.
Cristiano Ronaldo is contracted until 2022 in Turin, with Juventus expected to renew his deal for another year. Finally, Haaland is tied to Dortmund until 2024 and valued at more than €200 million, it looks like he’ll be staying there for some time.