The soccer world always knew the day would come when Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi would ride into the sunset. That day may be closer than expected after both stars were eliminated from Champions League play on consecutive days.
For the first time since the 2004-05 season, the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals will not feature either star, which comes just seven months after the first UCL semifinals without Messi or Ronaldo in 15 years.
Despite Messi's goal-of-the-season candidate against PSG on Wednesday, Barcelona couldn't overcome a 4-1 first-leg deficit as it tried in vain to channel 2017's La Remontada. The 1-1 draw (5-2 aggregate loss) with the French giants in Paris may have been a preview of the future of the sport with 22-year-old Kylian Mbappe breaking Messi's record to become the youngest player in Champions League history to score 25 goals.
On Tuesday, Ronaldo and Juventus were ousted by Porto in a thrilling extra-time finish that saw the Portuguese side advance on away goals. In three years at Juventus following a $117 million move from Real Madrid, Ronaldo has not advanced beyond the quarterfinals with Juventus losing to Dutch squad Ajax in the 2019 quarters, Lyon in last year's round of 16 and Porto.
Questions continue to surround Messi over his future at Barcelona following a turbulent summer where he submitted a transfer request. The Argentina star gave hope to Barcelona fans last week when he voted in club elections for the first time, but his future with La Blaugrana remains uncertain.