Cristiano Ronaldo arrives in Abu Dhabi with Al Nassr for Saudi Super Cup

Portuguese star takes on Al Hilal on Monday with Al Ittihad also in action

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Al Nassr have a point to prove as they returned to the UAE for the Saudi Super Cup over the weekend.

Al Nassr will take on Al Hilal at the Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium on Monday, hoping for a better outing than the last time they were in the Emirates.

Last month, UAE club Al Ain defeated a star-studded Al Nassr 1-0 in the first leg of their Asian Champions League quarter-final at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. That result proved critical as Al Ain then edged past Nassr in the return leg in Riyadh, winning on penalties to secure a place in the Asian Champions League semi-finals.

However, Nassr have since bounced back well. They are on a run of four straight Saudi Pro League wins, with Ronaldo at the front and centre of their campaign.

Ronaldo notched his second hat-trick in the space of 72 hours as Nassr routed Abha 8-0 in the SPL.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored three goals and recorded two assists in the first half for the nine-time Saudi Arabian champions.

The hat-trick was his third of the league season following his treble in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Al Tai. The Portuguese star leads the league with 29 goals and will be hoping to bring that form to the UAE.

Their opponents on Monday Hilal announced that striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, second behind Ronaldo with 22 goals in the league, is likely to miss the rest of the season through injury.

The Saudi Super Cup moved to the UAE after the Saudi Arabian Football Federation announced it had entered an agreement with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi.

The tournament kicks off on Monday with Al Ittihad taking on Al Wehda at the Al Nahyan Stadium (9pm UAE time), followed by a clash between Al Hilal and Al Nassr at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium (11:30pm). The final takes place on April 11.

Al Nassr coach Luis Castro admitted his side might be fatigued from recent SPL exertions but expects them to go all out for the silverware.

"The Super Cup comes to us too soon. It was a time when we had players to recover from the last games we had," he said.

"However, we have arrived for the game in good condition and are very excited about competing in another competition that we want to win. The time is short, but the players are ready.

"Football taught us not to be afraid of anything. The best way for us to face the unknown is to prepare in the best way we can. A game is something that we always face the unknown. Therefore, our preparation was very focused on ourselves rather than to think about the opponents.

"Obviously, we are playing against a strong opponent. They have strengths and depth in every line.

"But we have prepared in the best way possible to face any challenge that we will encounter. I have a lot of confidence in my players. I have a lot of confidence in my fans. I have confidence in the administration and my staff.

"We hope at the end of the game to be happy and to see our fans happy. I don't think our players are under pressure. I believe we are used to playing these types of games.

"I wish we can entertain the fans with a spectacular game. I think that’s the aim of both teams. I hope it's a great semi-final which we really want to win."

Updated: April 07, 2024, 7:34 PM