Cristiano Ronaldo

Neck Injury Sidelines Ronaldo: Al Nassr Fans Anticipate Star’s Return

Al Nassr enthusiasts keenly observed the absence of their star player during the recent AFC Champions League away clash against Istiklol in early December, raising questions about Cristiano Ronaldo’s whereabouts.

The 38-year-old football icon, revered as a colossal figure for the Saudi club, has been judiciously managing his playing time this season. Despite his pivotal role in the team, Ronaldo strategically chooses when to grace the field, a tactic aimed at preserving his form and energy for critical encounters.

Ronaldo to recover from a recent injury setback

The match against Istiklol in the continental competition provided an opportune moment for Ronaldo to recover from a recent injury setback and prepare for upcoming pivotal games. The Sporting News delves into why this particular game served as the ideal occasion to grant the Portuguese star a well-deserved break for rest and recuperation, especially with the challenging Saudi Pro League title race looming ahead.

The reason behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence from the Istiklol match stems from a neck injury sustained during the 0-0 draw with Persepolis in the AFC Champions League group stage on November 27. Although he valiantly played the entire 90 minutes in the subsequent 3-0 defeat to Al Hilal on December 1, Ronaldo’s lingering neck issue was evident as he took the field with black trainer’s tape on the left side.

Given Al Nassr’s secured position atop their AFC Champions League group, Ronaldo had been strategically rested for their previous away fixture against Al Duhail on November 7. The team emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline, and the prolonged journey to Tajikistan for the Istiklol match presented another golden opportunity for the seasoned player to undergo essential recuperation.

A combination of factors, including the persisting neck injury, Ronaldo’s advanced age, the extensive travel involved, and the match’s comparatively lower stakes, justified his absence against Istiklol. Fans can anticipate his return for the upcoming home league fixture against Al Riyadh on Friday, where Al Nassr seeks to bridge the seven-point gap with league leaders Al Hilal.

In terms of playing time, Cristiano Ronaldo has borne a substantial load this season, a commendable feat for a player in his late thirties. Leading the Saudi Pro League in goals with 15 from 14 matches, he remains a linchpin for the team. However, strategic rest becomes crucial, as highlighted by head coach Luis Castro’s reliance on the Portuguese star in every feasible instance.

The recent loss to Al Hilal saw Ronaldo draw a blank, allowing challenger Aleksandar Mitrovic to narrow the goal-scoring gap between them. Al Nassr, positioned second in the league table, now faces the challenge of closing the seven-point deficit behind Al Hilal. Qualifying for the AFC Champions League knockout stages has already been secured, with the knockout phase scheduled to commence in mid-February 2024.

As of the 2023/24 season, Cristiano Ronaldo’s impressive stats for Al Nassr include 15 goals and 7 assists in 14 Saudi Pro League matches, contributing to a total of 18 goals and 8 assists across 20 appearances in various competitions.

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