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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could both be in Champions League action this week – Juventus play Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday and Barcelona face Inter Milan on WednesdaySeven weeks into the season, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have scored only three club goals between them.The pair have dominated football for the past decade, with a combined 1,369 goals, 10 Ballons d’Or and nine Champions League titles.But with Barcelona and Argentina’s Messi, 32, suffering from multiple injuries already this season and Juventus and Portugal forward Ronaldo, 34, no longer winning golden boots, are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the pair’s era of dominance?Has the decline started?Nothing lasts forever. This is the first time since 2005-06 they have scored fewer than five club goals combined by 30 September.
Last season was the first time in 11 years that neither won the Ballon d’Or – although Messi did win the recent Fifa player of the year award. Messi has played 476 games in all competitions since the start of 2010-11, more than anybody else in Europe’s top five leagues. Ronaldo is third on that list on 452.But the Argentine has played a total of 90 minutes during his side’s seven La Liga games and is already on his second injury of the season – although he could potentially return against Inter Milan on Wednesday.While Messi has had problems throughout his career – he has only ever had one injury-free season – he usually does not miss too many league games.Even if Messi plays all remaining 31 La Liga games, it will be the joint fewest he has managed since 2013-14. If he misses another three across the season it will be the fewest since 2007-08, before he entered his goal-a-game form.He still had a phenomenal season last year, with 51 goals in 50 games helping him win the Fifa award. But only 120 minutes – and no goals – this season will be concerning to Messi fans.
The amount of games Ronaldo – who has also had an injury this season – has played has dipped each season since 2014-15, with his goal tally largely falling too. Last season’s 28 goals in 43 games would be great by nearly anyone else’s standards – but it was his worst goalscoring season since leaving Manchester United. It was the first time since 2011-12 he had not won or shared the Champions League golden boot. And he was only the fourth top scorer in Serie A – five behind a player two years his
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