Messi and Ronaldo sent the internet into pandemonium after posting a picture playing chess with one another. The image is on its way to becoming the most liked photograph on Instagram. But what are the hidden meanings behind it?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have broken the internet.
On the day before the opening of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the footballing superstars both posted a photo on their social medias of the two playing a game of chess with each other, in an elaborate campaign for Louis Vuitton.
Since it was revealed to the world, Cristiano Ronaldo's post of the image has gained 39 million likes on Instagram, quickly becoming the second most liked photo in Instagram history.
This is no surprise considering that the Portuguese forward is the most followed person on the platform, with more than 500 million fans.
Interestingly, a behind-the-scenes video shared by Louis Vuitton, shows that the image, which was taken by legendary celebrity portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, was actually photoshopped and that two sporting greats were never actually in the same room.
The image is packed with hidden meaning and detail, and has had fans across the world speculating since its release.
Let's unpack it:
The picture sees the legendary footballers deep in thought over an intense game of chess, which is played on a checkered Louis Vuitton suitcase. The caption reads: 'Victory is a State of Mind'.
Fans of chess were also quick to realise that the position of the chess pieces was not just randomly assigned, but that it actually mimics a match played by respective chess grandmasters Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura at the Norway Chess tournament back in 2017.
The iconic chess match ultimately resulted in a draw between the two grandmasters, drawing parallels between the long-standing rivalry and never-ending debate between Ronaldo and Messi, as two of the greatest players to ever kick a football.
Carlsen and Nakamura both responded to the photo on twitter.
Another detail that many people on the internet picked up on is that the Louis Vuitton trunk, on which the game of chess is played, has a more emblematic meaning than it seems.
Images from the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia are being circulated around, which show that a Louis Vuitton briefcase was used to present the World Cup trophy ahead of the opening game and the final in Moscow.
This adds an incredible symbolism to the viral photo, as both football stars will battle it out at this year's World Cup, in which many are calling their 'last dance'.
Messi and Ronaldo have never won a World Cup despite claiming enough silverware to probably fill most of the Louvre. But now the pair could potentially face each other in the final.
However, Messi's Argentina, one of the favourites going into the tournament, got off to a catastrophic start yesterday, following one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, as Saudi Arabia - a team ranked outside of the world's top 50 - pulled off an astonishing 2-1 victory against the side.
Asked how he felt after the defeat, Messi said: "The truth? Dead. It's a very hard blow because we did not expect to start in this way.”
Ronaldo, who has recently parted ways with Manchester United following his controversial interview with Piers Morgan, prepares to play Ghana in Portugal's opening game on 24 November.
He referenced the iconic Louis Vuitton image in a recent World Cup press conference saying that he would "like to be the player to checkmate Messi".
"It happened in the chess game and in football it would be magic," Ronaldo said with a smile.