An unnecessary ban & huge miss: Cristiano Ronaldo guilty of Al-Nassr crisis

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An unnecessary ban & huge miss: Cristiano Ronaldo guilty of Al-Nassr crisis

The Portuguese icon has contributed to a nightmare for the Saudi giants, culminating in their exit from the AFC Champions League.

A sharp decline in form has sent Al-Nassr into complete crisis mode; in a bleak two-week period since early March, their vague title hopes have faded and their dreams of qualifying for the Asian Champions League (ACL) in the quarterfinals have come to an irrevocable end.

As you might expect, the Portuguese superstar was Cheap Replica Cristiano Ronaldo soccer shirt the protagonist – but this time he was unable to play the hero. Indeed, he contributed in no small part to his team’s downfall over the course of two blood-curdling weeks, with obscene gestures and staggering, unusual misses.

Al-Nassr’s chances of success this season are now hanging by a thread and head coach Luis Castro suddenly sees his job on the line with possibly only one game left to save himself. Much is expected of Ronaldo to get his team out of this predicament, but in many ways this is a mess of his own making.

Nightmerrie 2024

The year 2024 so far has not been good for Al-Nassr. The team from Riyadh won only two of its four league games since the end of the winter break in mid-February. After victories over Al-Fateh and Al-Shabab, form dropped alarmingly. First Al-Nassr without Ronaldo was beaten at home by the straggler Al-Hazm and then it went down 3-1 at home against the lowly Al-Raed, almost destroying any hopes of overtaking frontrunners Al-Hilal.

The Champions League provided a welcome distraction, but their journey was abruptly ended on Monday in the quarterfinals by Emirati club Al Ain, with Cheap Al Nassr soccer shirt missed three penalty kicks in an embarrassing defeat after working hard by fighting back from a 3-0 deficit in normal time.

Despite all he has done for the club in his short time in the Middle East, there is one man who is responsible for his club’s problems.

Unnecessary suspension

Although Ronaldo has managed to maintain his ridiculous 2024 goal scoring percentage, it has been a terrible few weeks for the Portuguese superstar. The tide began to turn for Al-Nassr in late February, when the highly experienced striker unnecessarily reacted to the chanting of Lionel Messi’s name by opposing supporters during the victory over Al-Shabab by pointing to his groin with a crude gesture after his goal was greeted from the penalty spot.

This obscene gesture caused the 39-year-old player to clash with Saudi authorities, despite his insistence that his actions would have been perfectly acceptable in Europe. “I will always respect the cultures of all countries, as I have done to this day, but what people see is not always the reality,” he later said. “Obviously I won’t do it again in this country, but in Europe it’s very normal. Sometimes the passion and excitement of the game makes us make mistakes.”

Without their star player, Al-Nassr played out a disappointing draw against basement boys Al-Hazm. Sadio Mane’s penalty in the 94th minute was not enough to secure victory as the visitors grabbed a point in the ninth minute of added time. It is not unfair to assume that things could have been very different for the hosts with a Ronaldo in form on the pitch.

From bad to worse for CR7

Ronaldo returned for the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against Al Ain, but he made a rare blunder when he was held still by an effective defense in a 1-0 defeat on the road. That was followed by a lackluster display in the lost match against Al-Raed, where he was twice denied a chance by the woodwork.

The veteran was on the scoreboard again in Al Ain’s second leg, with a penalty in extra time to force a shootout – but he could have been the hero with an even more telling contribution earlier in the match. With the score at 2-2 and Al Ain still in the lead, Ronaldo somehow missed from three yards after the goalkeeper spilled the ball into his path.

Although teammate Cheap Replica Alex Telles soccer jersey saved his blushes to force extra time, before Ronaldo somewhat made up for it by putting Al-Nassr back in the lead after Al Ain equalized in the extra 30 minutes, he could have helped his team to a remarkable victory in normal time had his usual predatory instincts not failed him.

‘I’m not afraid of being fired’

However, the worrying form of Najd’s Knights since the beginning of the month could still have serious implications for head coach Castro. All major Saudi media and sources close to the club believe he is doomed to be fired and it is now simply a matter of when – not if – he is fired. His bosses are not impressed with Al-Nassr’s dwindling title hopes and alleged premature exit from the Champions League, given how much money they have invested in the team.

After the penalties against Al Ain, the Portuguese seemed resigned to the idea. “Football justice did not sit with us,” he said. “We practiced penalty kicks and the players have the responsibility to take them. Individual mistakes are our responsibility, including injuries and suspensions.”

He added: “My only sadness is that I cannot send Al-Nassr’s fans home happy. Maybe we can still win the King Cup and the Super Cup, but maybe not. If you want to know if my work is good or bad, ask the players about my work. I am not afraid of being fired. My presence at Al-Nassr is due to my hard work and I am not here just for the results. The Arab world debates results, not actions. Life is not just this.”

After two unforgettable weeks, Al-Nassr’s season is in doubt; they are now 12 points behind leaders Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League and the defeat against Al Ain – who themselves are second in the UAE Pro League – means their dream of continental success in 2023-24 is over.

There is a sense that Al-Nassr have little left to play for, with a difficult period putting the two most prestigious trophies out of reach. Now the task is to ensure that the season does not go down the drain, and key figures like Ronaldo will play a pivotal role in ensuring that does not happen.

The team from Riyadh is determined to reach the Champions League again, as the top three in the Pro League qualify automatically for the competition, and they still have a chance of winning two domestic prizes in the form of the King Cup and Super Cup. However, they are hardly favorites for the latter, with old foes Al-Hilal as opponents in the semifinals.

Last chance

Castro, however, may get a reprieve – although it already feels like it may be too little and too late after a disastrous couple of weeks. Al-Nassr take on third-placed Al-Ahli in the league on Friday night in their increasingly futile pursuit of Al-Hilal in the title race. If they fail to record anything less than a win to secure second place and increase the lead over their opponents to nine points, it seems almost certain that Castro will be left to his fate.

The manager’s fate hangs by a thread and Ronaldo could well play to save his compatriot’s job. In the coming weeks, Al-Nassr will have to pull out all the stops to salvage anything more from a season that is in serious danger of failing.

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