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Ahead of FIFA World Cup, photo of Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo playing chess goes viral

Annie Leibovitz Worldwide Speakers Group
Thought Leader: Annie Leibovitz
November 20, 2022
Source: Olympics

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are yet to kick a ball in an official FIFA World Cup 2022 match in Qatar, but the duo is already shaking up the internet, courtesy of a picture of the two posted on Instagram.

Interestingly, there’s no football involved and instead, the two football legends can be seen deep in concentration, playing chess against each other on a chequered Louis Vuitton suitcase.

The picture, sponsored by the Louis Vuitton fashion company, was posted by both superstars on their respective Instagram handles at 11 PM IST on Saturday and has gone viral since. While the post has already garnered over 29 million likes on Ronaldo’s page, it has over 23 million likes on Messi’s.

Ronaldo, with 499 million followers, and Messi, with 375 million followers, are the top most-followed celebrities on Instagram

“Victory is a State of Mind,” the post was captioned.

The picture has also been posted on Louis Vuitton’s Instagram page and boasts over 3 million likes.

Who clicked the Messi-Ronaldo chess picture?

Celebrated American portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz is the photographer behind the viral picture of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing chess together.

Is the Messi-Ronaldo chess picture the most liked post on Instagram?

In short, no or not yet.

While the posts on Ronaldo and Messi’s handles, individually, will make it into the top 10 most-liked Instagram posts of all time as things stand, none will take the top spot.

Ronaldo’s post of the picture is the third-most liked Instagram post of all time as things stand now. The Portuguese superstar, in fact, is also part of the second-most liked Instagram post of all time – Ronaldo and his partner Georgina Rodríguez announcing Rodríguez’s pregnancy – which has close to 33 million likes.

The most-liked Instagram post, though, is a portrait of an egg, posted under the handle world_record_egg which has been liked a whopping 55.8 million times since it was posted in 2019.

Both Messi and Ronaldo, however, may end up breaking the lone egg’s record collectively but to the egg’s credit, it never had the marketing push and budget that the chess picture with the two of football’s biggest superstars had.

Why did the Messi-Ronaldo chess picture go viral?

While paid marketing and the scale of both Ronaldo and Messi’s popularity did play a big part in the astonishing number of likes the picture has received till now, the timing and content also struck a chord with the fans.

The picture, already being dubbed iconic by many, has made fans of both players set aside their fiery Messi-Ronaldo rivalry debates on social media to appreciate the candid frame of the two together.

The upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is expected to be the last dance for both the greats and will mark the end of an era, where fans had the opportunity to watch two of the best footballers of all time go head-to-head for records, trophies and various personal honours, week in and week out.

Furthermore, images of both players together, outside of football matches and award ceremonies, are rare.

Additionally, fans have also started to spot a few unconfirmed easter eggs in the picture, which have added to the excitement around the Messi-Ronaldo chess photo.

Fans have dug up pictures from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where a Louis Vuitton briefcase was used to present the FIFA World Cup trophy ahead of the opening fixture and the final in Moscow. It resembles the trunk on which Ronaldo and Messi are playing chess on and the picture is a symbolic representation of the battle to ensue, according to some.

Also, the positions of the chess pieces in the picture mirrors that of a real game – a match between chess grandmasters Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura from 2017.
Interestingly, if Lionel Messi’s Argentina win their Group C and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal top Group H at the FIFA World Cup 2022 and both teams make the final at Lusail, fans may be treated to a dream Messi vs Ronaldo faceoff in a FIFA World Cup final.

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