6th, 39/10 (7/4) 2nd, 42/16 (8/0), CDR Championship Manager
2nd, 47/12 (14/6), LC 1st, 25/8 (7/2), CL Real Life
£8.5M / £40.5K £20.5M / £90K Value/Wage
And that particular talk of the town was Juventus triggering the release clause on Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract at Sporting Lisbon. Throughout the first season he was deployed more centrally alongside Alessandro Del Piero and Ronaldinho in an attacking 5-4-1. Still, with these attacking riches, Juventus floundered to fourth place and quarter finals in the Coppa Italia and Champions League (to A.C. Milan and Roma respectively)
Messi was the subject to a big move, also, but it was Mark van Bommel brought in for £28.5m that changed his role in the Barca squad. Rivaldo also returned in an attacking 5-3-2 that sees Messi link play to Kluivert and Javier Saviola up front. They were second to Real Madrid again but 6 of Messi’s 16 goals came in a successful Copa del Rey campaign. They came up short in the Champions League in the semi-finals.
It was the semi-finals where Messi’s Spain also lost their way in the 2006 World Cup. His creative performances therein earned him the European Midfielder of the Year award. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were eliminated in a group containing Brazil, Nigeria & Colombia.
6th, 45/10 (8/3) 2nd, 53/11 (10/3) Championship Manager
1st, 53/23 (10/5) 36/17 (14/6) Real Life
£10.25M / £65K £19.75M / £90K Value/Wage
A second successive sixth place for Ronaldo in Turin, was he regretting leaving guaranteed Champions League football at Sporting? Still, he continued his superb record of scoring double figures in each season. They would come unstuck in the Coppa Italia’s quarter final again, whilst going one better in Europe, going out in the last four to PSG.
PSG also dumped out Messi’s Barcelona who filtered into the UEFA Cup via the Champions League groups, only to be eliminated at the quarter-final stage. With a second place finish and a semi-final Copa del Rey elimination off Valencia, Messi had also gone trophyless.
2nd, 34/7 (9/4) 1st, 48/14 (5/1), CDR Championship Manager
1st, 49/42 (8/1), CL 3rd, 40/16 (8/2) Real Life
£11.25M / £65K £18.5M / £90K Value/Wage
A Liga and Copa double overturned a year of frustration for Leo Messi. His Spain side didn’t even make Euro 2008 after Greece and Belgium qualified ahead of them whilst Ronaldo’s Portugal sauntered into the tournament. Barca lost out in the second group stage with Messi hitting one of his best goalscoring seasons.
Ronaldo would return to Champions League football after Juventus finished second. They were eliminated at the first hurdle in the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia. He would make a name for himself at Euro 2008 somewhat in a disappointing effort for Portugal. He was their top scorer, with two goals in a group stage elimination that contained a 4-2 loss to Finland.
2nd, 46/13 (7/5) 2nd, 54/17 (7/0) Championship Manager
1st, 53/26 (7/1), LC 1st, 51/38 (10/3), CDR, CL Real Life
£11.75M / £65K £20.5M / £90K Value/Wage
No trophies for either Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2008/09 season. Both Juventus and Barcelona finished second despite the pairing hitting double figures. Celta Vigo would come to be both sides’ downfall. For Juventus and Roanldo it came in the second group stage, for Messi’s Barcelona it was on all three fronts. Celta would eliminate them from the Copa’s last eight, the Champions League’s final four and would romp home to the La Liga title by 11 points.
Lazio stopped Juventus from claiming a Serie A whilst Ukraine stand in Portugal’s way by 9 points in World Cup qualification. Spain have less of an uphill battle, being 2 points behind Belgium – the team that stopped them qualifying for Euro 2008.
Next week, a Champions League winner and the 2010 World Cup.