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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 July 2018

Lionel Messi mural created to match Cristiano Ronaldo's one in Kazan at the World Cup

Officials had worked last-minute to create it after worrying the Argentine forward would have thought Kazan was biased towards Ronaldo

The Lionel Messi mural has gone up in Kazan. Thanassis Stavrakis / AP Photo
The Lionel Messi mural has gone up in Kazan. Thanassis Stavrakis / AP Photo

Kazan artists worked through the night on Friday painting a mural of Argentina's Lionel Messi to match one of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo on a building opposite, saving the blushes of the World Cup host city.

The three-storey portrait of Ronaldo was painted on a building behind the Ramada Hotel to welcome the five-times World Player of the Year when Portugal played in the capital of Tatarstan in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

To the embarrassment of city officials, it turned out that Argentina would be staying at the same hotel ahead of Saturday's World Cup last 16 clash against France with Messi potentially being able to see the Ronaldo mural from his room.

To avoid to appear to be taking sides in the eternal debate over which of the Spain-based forwards is the world's best player, the city commissioned the smaller side profile of Messi, also a five-times World Player of the Year.

Fans were already gathering outside the hotel hours before the arrival of Messi and his compatriots.

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Read more

World Cup 2018: Day 16 updates - Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo prepare for second round action

World Cup 2018 second round guide and predictions: France end Argentina's hopes

John McAuley's World Cup diary: Fans in Russia have been amazing - and so has Google Translate

Extra Time podcast: Messi finally comes through as World Cup knockout stages take shape

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