Al Nassr: Cristiano Ronaldo’s first complicated outing

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Spilling a lot of ink, the free arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo on the side of Al Nassr has not finished talking about it. The five-time Ballon d’Or made a rather surprising choice by deciding to join the leader of the Saudi championship. A decision yet assumed by the main interested party who did not want to talk about pre-retirement: “For me, it’s not the end of my career to come to Saudi Arabia. I don’t care what people think. For me, I am very happy to be here. I know that the championship is very competitive, I have seen a lot of matches. Playing a friendly match with an All-Star team made up of players from Al Hilal and Al Nassr against Paris Saint-Germain last Thursday (5-4), he showed good dispositions with a double and the men’s trophy. match.

An interesting return to the field but which required confirmation for his first official match with Al Nassr. Then opposed to Al-Ettifaq (10th out of 16 in the Saudi Pro League), the Riyadh club provided the essentials by winning 1-0 and regaining the lead in the championship. As for Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, the opinion is particularly mixed. If the European press was very disappointed with his score, it must be said that there is very little to put in their mouths. Yet playing the 90 minutes of the match, Cristiano Ronaldo did not score and weighed little on the meeting of his team. Scorer Anderson Talisca and Argentine attacking midfielder Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez were the most prominent.

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Good and less good

Positioned at the forefront of the Al Nassr attack alongside the Brazilian Talisca, Cristiano Ronaldo was particularly watched by Marcel Tisserand. The former central defender of Monaco, Lens and Toulouse had the mission to reduce his influence, especially in the aerial field and was in sight. Moreover, it was the Congolese who quickly intervened in front of Cristiano Ronaldo (7th) to deflect his first shot for a corner. Regularly sought after in depth, the Portuguese was more comfortable when he picked up to speed up the game. A start of technical complicity with Anderson Talisca and Gonzalo Martínez was to be noted and this should improve over the matches. Very guarded, Cristiano Ronaldo was close to taking over the center of Abdulmajeed Al Sulaiheem at the near post. With two defenders on him, he nevertheless left more leeway to Anderson Talisca at the far post to score (31st). A missed free kick and lost aerial duels, this is what happened to him at the end of the first period.

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Very surrounded and little found, Cristiano Ronaldo was nonetheless the identified threat. Passing on the left side and centering at the near post, he also distilled a very good ball for Gonzalo Martínez on the return from the locker room (58th). It was also from him that Anderson Talisca’s powerful strike came a few seconds later (60th). Better and better in the second half, he notably distinguished himself on a nice feint which unbalanced the right side Saeed Al Muwallad (78th). More easily found and more stirring, he ultimately delivers a correct performance, but far from what one should expect from a player who has marked the history of football so much. A half-hearted first therefore, but which Rudi Garcia wanted to highlight.

In the post-match press conference, the Frenchman was happy with his star’s performance: “It’s a positive addition to have a great player like Cristiano Ronaldo because he’s going to help distract defenders, and that’s what we saw with our goal. There is no doubt that Al Nassr have a wonderful player of Ronaldo’s stature, and all teams in the league, especially the coaches, know his value, and they reflect on the way we play. […] Cristiano Ronaldo has 5 Golden Balls and he is one of the best players in football, and today we created special conditions for him by creating attacking opportunities to score, and we asked players to diversify playing on Cristiano Ronaldo and Talisca. We don’t forget that Ronaldo took part in the Paris Saint-Germain game and so we haven’t seen everything yet. He takes his time.” A gentle return to competition for Cristiano Ronaldo who will surely be keen to show much more against Al Ittihad on Thursday, in the semi-final of the Saudi Arabian Super Cup.

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