KAZAN, RUSSIA (REUTERS) - Kazan artists worked through the night on Friday (June 29), painting a mural of Argentinian talisman Lionel Messi to match one of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo on an opposite building so as to save 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-time World Player of the Year when Portugal played in the city in last year's Confederations Cup.
To the embarrassment of city officials, it turned out that Argentina would be staying at the same hotel ahead of Saturday's (June 30) World Cup last-16 clash against France, with Messi potentially being able to see the Ronaldo mural from his room.
With the city not wanting to appear to be taking sides in the eternal debate over which of the two forwards is the world's best player, officials commissioned the smaller side profile of Messi, also a five-time World Player of the Year.
Fans were already gathering outside the hotel hours before the arrival of Messi and his national team-mates.