Cristiano Ronaldo’s Absence: When Al Nassr plays Istiklol on the road in early December in the AFC Champions League, their biggest star won’t be there. Fans will definitely notice.
He has had to watch his minutes this season, and even though he is still a huge star for the Saudi club, he has to choose when to play.
Ronaldo had a recent injury, but today’s game on the road in international competition was a great chance for him to get better and get ready for a string of very important games coming up.
The Sporting News explains why today’s game was the perfect chance to give the Portuguese star a few days off to rest and get ready for the tough Saudi Pro League title race that lies ahead.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Absence in the game against Istiklol
Cristiano Ronaldo hurt his neck in the 0-0 draw with Persepolis in the group stage of the AFC Champions League on November 27. He has been out since then.
Though Ronaldo didn’t let the injury stop him from starting and playing the whole 3-0 loss to Al Hilal on December 1, he did do so with black tape covering the left side of his neck, showing that the knock is still bothering him.
As Al Nassr had already clinched first place in their AFC Champions League group, Ronaldo didn’t play on their previous away trip to Qatari club Al Duhail on November 7, which Al Nassr won 3-2. This long road trip to Tajikistan gave the aging star another chance to get some much-needed rest.
Because of his injury to his neck, his old age, the long trip, and the fact that the game wasn’t very important, Ronaldo had no reason to go to Istiklol. On Friday, they play Al Riyadh at home in the league. He should be ready to go because they need to close the seven-point gap to winners Al Hilal.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s game time and stats for Al Nassr this year
For a player who is 38 years old, Cristiano Ronaldo has played a lot of minutes this season. Still, he is very important to the club, so head coach Luis Castro has had to use the Portuguese star in every possible way. This has made Ronaldo’s breaks very valuable.
Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in 14 games in the Saudi Pro League, but he didn’t score in the latest loss to Al Hilal. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice to close the gap between him and Ronaldo.
Currently, Al Nassr is in second place in the league table. However, they need to try to close the seven-point gap between themselves and the league winners, Al Hilal, after their recent loss. They have already qualified for the next round of the AFC Champions League, which will start in the middle of February 2024.
Ronaldo’s stats for Al Nassr in the 2023–24 season
|Saudi Pro League
|AFC Champions League