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Ronaldo, Messi to learn World Cup last dance partners

DOHA (CNA) Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will today learn their opponents for what is almost certainly their last World Cup finals when the draw is made for November’s tournament in Qatar.

The two biggest names in the game have collected a host of club and individual honours as well as continental trophies with their countries but neither has managed to crown his career with the ultimate prize of World Cup glory.

Portuguese forward Ronaldo, who is 37, and Argentine Messi, 34, are set to feature in their fifth World Cup finals – no player has appeared in six.

The nearest Ronaldo came to winning the tournament was his first attempt in Germany in 2006 when Portugal lost in the semi-finals to France.

Messi’s Argentina were runners-up in Brazil in 2014 where they lost to Germany in the final in Rio.

Neither player has indicated whether he will try to make a record sixth World Cup appearance or retire from international football after this year’s tournament but their ages suggest this may well be their final attempt.

Portugal and Argentina are expected to be among the top seeds, in pot one, meaning they will avoid a direct confrontation with one of the favourites in the four-team group stage.

Defending champions France and five-times World Cup winners Brazil are the bookmakers’ favourites, with England, semi-finalists four years ago, also fancying their chances.

Although European champions Italy failed to qualify for the finals, the continent has plenty of serious contenders with Belgium, Spain and Germany also in the frame.

ABOVE & BELOW: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. PHOTOS: AP