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28 February 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Saudi Pro League debut on Sunday

By Emirates247

The Saudi Pro League was delighted to see its players line-up in an All Star XI for the Riyadh Season Cup clash with Paris Saint-Germain at the King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday night.

The 68,000-sell-out crowd – with millions more across the globe watching on TV – witnessed what may have been the final match between two icons of the game: Cristiano Ronaldo, Al Nassr’s new signing, and PSG’s Lionel Messi. 

And what a game it was. Featuring Saudi Pro League players from Al Nassr and Al Hilal, the All-Stars put in a battling performance to go in 2-2 at halftime before eventually going down 5-4 to PSG. The incredible drama in Riyadh included Messi opening the scoring, a double for Ronaldo, a red card for PSG’s Juan Bernat, and Neymar seeing a penalty saved by Mohammed Al-Owais. 

It was the perfection introduction to Saudi Arabian football for Ronaldo, as fans got a glimpse of what is to come ahead of his sold-out Al Nassr debut in the Saudi Pro League versus Ettifaq on Sunday, January 22. The hugely anticipated match at Mrsool Park kicks off at 8.30pm. 

Saudi Pro League chairman AdbulAziz Alafaleq said: “The Saudi Pro League was delighted to provide players for the Riyadh Season Cup match. Players from our league relished the opportunity to pit their talents against some of the best players in the world, such as Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Achraf Hakimi, and, of course, Lionel Messi. Backed by an incredibly passionate crowd at the King Fahd International Stadium, the Saudi Pro League players truly put in a performance to be proud of that showcased the strength of Saudi Arabian football.” 

The match follows Saudi Arabia’s impressive efforts at the recent World Cup, including that famous victory over Argentina where the national team was represented exclusively by talent from the Saudi Pro League. This was further added to by the passionate support of Saudi fans at the tournament, who played a big part in showing the love they have for the game.

Alafaleq added: “The sell-out attendance on Thursday night and Cristiano Ronaldo’s much-awaited league debut on Sunday is indicative of the huge passion Saudi fans have for football. We have no doubt the eyes of the football world will be firmly on the Saudi Pro League and Mrsool Park on Sunday night.”

Saudi Pro League players participating in the match squad with PSG included: 

From Al Nassr: Amin Bukhari, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Ali Lajami, Abdullah Madu, Ghislain Konan, Sultan Al-Ghannam, Luiz Gustavo, Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Sami Al-Najei, Talisca, Pity Martínez and Cristiano Ronaldo.
From Al-Hilal: Mohammed Al-Owais, Saud Abdulhamid, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Jang Hyun-soo, Khalifah Al-Dawsari, Musab Al-Juwayr, Abdullah Otayf, Mohammed Kanno, André Carrillo, Gustavo Cuellar, Matheus Pereira, Salem Al-Dawsari, Odion Ighalo and Moussa Marega.

The Saudi Pro League select team was led by Argentinian legend and former PSG player Marcelo Gallardo, who most recently managed River Plate in his home country. 

The match follows a week where Riyadh hosted both the Spanish and Italian Super Cups. The total attendances of the five matches – Real Madrid v Valencia, Barcelona v Real Betis, Real Madrid v Barcelona, Inter Milan v AC Milan, and the All-Stars XI v PSG – held at the King Fahd International Stadium came to an incredible 277,000 fans.