Current and future La Liga kings Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar both celebrate birthdays today, and by the night’s end, each man could have more reason for cheer as Real Madrid and Barcelona compete in Copa Del Rey semifinal action.
Real Madrid takes on crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid at 2 p.m. ET with Barcelona and Real Sociedad to follow at 4 p.m. ET. Both matches, the first of two-legs, will be televised on beIN Sports.
Ronaldo, who was awarded the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or last month and the title of the game’s greatest player that it affords, turns 29, while Neymar, upon whose shoulders Brazil’s FIFA World Cup™ hopes rest, is 22.
It would be easy to list an achievement, award, title or plaudit for each of Ronaldo’s 29 candles. He’s the highest-paid player in the world, and for good reason.
Since signing for Real Madrid in a then-record $131 million transfer from Manchester United, the near-perfect Portuguese has made the move look like a bargain, banging in 168 goals in 156 appearances.
He’s got records for the most goals in a season for Real Madrid, the fastest to reach 100 league tallies for the club, among many others, and is the first man to score 40 goals in back to back seasons in Europe and to net against all La Liga rivals in a single term. He’s simply otherworldly and a marvel.
Neymar, out for today’s game with an ankle injury, made a controversial move from boyhood club Santos to Barcelona this summer and has answered every question posed to him since then in the positive.
Can he translate success in Brazil to Europe? Will all of his deft ball tricks work at this level? Can he play with Lionel Messi? Can he cope with the pressure? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
After scoring against Real Madrid in his first El Clasico and netting a hat trick in the UEFA Champions League against Celtic, it’s clear; Neymar a worldwide star whose career arc is yet to find a ceiling. He will celebrate many more birthdays and goals in a Barcelona shirt.
Happy birthday to Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, world stars who continue to delight spectators and doom defenders each time they take the field.
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