Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Will Ronaldo play against Messi? CR7 out of Al Nassr vs Inter Miami 2024 Riyadh Season Cup match with injury | Sporting News

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Anticipation has been high ever since the latest meeting of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s unparalleled careers was announced at the end of last year.

As usual, Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Season publicity machine has not missed a trick.

Turki Alalshikh, chairman of the Kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority, posted on Instagram to proclaim a “Last Dance” between the once-sworn Barcelona and Real Madrid rivals when Ronaldo’s Al Nassr host Messi’s Inter Miami as part of the Riyadh Season Cup on February 1.

However, Cristiano will not even take to the floor.

Al Nassr head coach Luis Castro told reporters on Wednesday that his star forward would be “ready soon” following the muscular injury that forced the cancellation of two friendly games in China last week. But not soon enough.

“He is in the final part of his recovery to join the group,” Castro said. “We hope in the next few days that work with the team can begin. He will be absent from the game.”

The Sporting News looks at the latest on the Portugal star’s injury status and whether the Riyadh Season Cup match itself will even go ahead if one of the game’s modern greats is not available to play.

MORE: Latest on Ronaldo injury that caused unrest at a hotel in China

Ronaldo out of Messi match: Latest on Al Nassr vs Inter Miami 

Al Nassr undertook a mid-season tour to China last week. While their training camp took place as planned, two proposed friendlies against Shanghai Shenhua and Zhejiang were postponed after Ronaldo suffered a muscular injury.

In a statement published via their social media channels, Al Nassr confirmed that the friendly matches were no longer considered viable in Ronaldo’s absence.

“We are sad to announce that, unfortunately, and for reasons beyond Al Nassr’s control, the event comprised of two matches scheduled on the 24th and 29th of January has been postponed to a date to be defined,” the Saudi Pro League club said.

“We came here in Shenzhen with a lot of respect for Chinese football fans and specifically the fans of Ronaldo. Taking this into consideration, in addition to the tight relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China, we, Al Nassr, are willing to complete our training camp as planned in Shenzhen, a city that has warmly welcomed us and shown so much love for us and our captain.

“Furthermore, we have agreed with the organiser and the promoter to schedule a new match the soonest [sic].

“Al Nassr Club has always shown and proved its unconditional commitment with this event and has travelled with its full squad including Cristiano Ronaldo in order to participate in this tour.

“We love our Chinese fans and we are looking [forward] to playing for them as soon as possible.”

What is Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury? What Portugal star said

Ronaldo did not disclose the precise nature of his injury or the expected timeframe for recovery when he spoke to reporters in China.

“As you know, in football some things you cannot control,” he said. “I have played 22 years in football and I am a player that doesn’t have too many injuries. So I’m really sad because Al Nassr and myself have come to China to enjoy the tour.

“I have been coming to China since 2003/2004, so I feel at home here — my second home. I felt that I am always special here. I feel sad. I know you are sad too, especially the people who love Cristiano, but we have to see this in a good way.

“We have not cancelled the game, we want to push for the game and be back here. We will be back. Unfortunately, I have some problem, but this is part of football and my life. I’m here, I’m with the fans, I’m with the Chinese people and we are going to continue here.

“We can see outside the people that are with us. We are sad because we knew this could happen. We will be back to make the Chinese people happy — this is my goal. I want to play for you. Don’t be sad because I am sad and I hope you understand the circumstances of a football player.”

Will the Al Nassr vs Inter Miami match still take place?

There is no indication whatsover that the Al Nassr vs. Inter Miami match will be cancelled in Ronaldo’s absence. For starters, Castro confirmed he would not play as part of pre-match media duties.

It is undoubtedly a seismic blow to the grand plans of a Last Dance (well, there’s probably always next year) but there is a clear and obvious difference between this game and Al Nassr’s scheduled fixtures in China.

Ronaldo is the shining symbol of Saudi Arabia’s expansion into big-money football but, unlike for the planned games with Shanghai Shenhua and Zhejiang, he is not the only show in town.

Put simply, Messi is in there for Riyadh Season and that, in itself, is a coup for organisers. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner is an ambassador for Saudi Tourism and recently participated in a video advert promoting the country as a desirable destination.

Additionally, the Riyadh Season Cup is a triangular event to which Al Nassr’s Saudi Pro League counterparts Al Hilal are also committed.

Al Hilal beat Messi and Inter Miami 4-3 on January 29, with a meeting between the two domestic rivals slated for February 8.

Maybe Ronaldo will be back for that one. But he will have to look on from the stands when his old foe Messi gets to work at the Kingdom Arena.

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