How Did Cristiano Ronaldo and Other Saudi Pro League Stars Fare over the International Break?

The Saudi Professional League was well represented by its superstars around the globe, either in the European Championship qualifiers, South American World Cup qualifiers, the AFCON qualifiers, or the friendly games, over the October international break. First things first, the Portuguese representatives of the SPL, led by Cristiano Ronaldo have done the job and got their nation to the Euros with 2 straight victories, a tough one against Slovakia 3-2, then an easy one against Bosnia 0-5.


Ronaldo has massively contributed to these important wins, scoring 4 goals in the 2 matches and providing 1 assist. He has had 4 shots on target, 2 off target, 3 blocked and 1 big chance missed. He attempted 4 dribbles but has only been successful once. He won 3 ground duels out of 7 and 1 aerial duel out of 2. For his part, Ruben Neves only played 21 minutes in total of both games and thus has not had the chance to leave any special mark.


Otavio, who got subbed on late in the first game against Slovakia, started the second game against Bosnia and played 85 minutes of the match, in which he provided 1 assist, 1 key pass, 1 big chance created, 2 successful long passes out of 3, 7 ground duels won out of 12, and 6 tackles. Fellow Al-Nassr superstar Sadio Mané has led the Senegal national team to achieve a victory against Cameroon in a friendly game, scoring the only goal of the game.


The match has seen the participation of Al-Hilal’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Al-Ahli’s Edouard Mendy from Senegal, and Abha’s Karl Toko-Ekambi from Cameroon. Riyad Mahrez, another star of Al-Ahli, has captained both friendly games with the Algerian national team, against Cape Verde and Egypt and provided 2 assists in the first match.


Five Players Who Had a Great International Break


Al-Hilal’s Serbian international duo Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic have participated in both games of their national team in The Euros qualifiers. They lost the first match against Hungary 2-1 away from home, and then they beat Montenegro 3-1. Mitrovic led them to that victory by scoring 2 goals and delivering 1 assist. He also had 3 successful dribbles out of 4 attempts and 13 duels won in total out of 21.


Milinkovic-Savic left the bench at the start of the second half, and provided 3 key passes and created 1 big chance, in addition to 5 duels won out of 9, 2 tackles and 1 long balls out of 1 attempted. Spain international defender Aymeric Laporte, who figures on the ranks of Al-Nassr, featured in 180 minutes out of 180 possible with La Roja, under the lead of coach Luis De La Fuente. He made 7 clearances, 5 tackles and blocked one shot, against each of Scotland and Norway, respectively, in the European Championship qualifiers.


He has also won 6 ground duels out of 9, plus 4 aerial duels out of 5. His long passing is world-class, shown by his 20 long balls completed out of 25 attempted in only 2 games, in addition to 199 completed passes out of 217. Al-Ettifaq’s Jordan Henderson captained the Three Lions in the win against Australia and had a cameo in the second game against Italy.


His teammate Demarai Gray has hit the back of the net in both games played for Jamaica, against Grenade and Haiti, respectively. Ivory Coast international midfielder Franck Kessié (Al-Ahli) and Seko Fofana (Al-Nassr) and Ghislain Konan (Al-Feyha) have started both of their national team’s friendly games, against Morocco and South Africa.


Tactical Analysis: How Sadio Mané Operating as an Inside Forward Has Freed up Cristiano Ronaldo in Al-Nassr’s Attack


Speaking of Morocco, Al-Hilal’s Yassine Bono and Al-Shabab’s Romain Saiss have also figured in the starting line-up of both games against the aforementioned game against Ivory Coast, and then Liberia. Al-Nassr’s Marcelo Brozovic has conceded two straight losses with his national team Croatia, which got the situation of the Blazers complicated in the European Championship’s qualifying group, and has even picked up a slight injury.


The same for Neymar, who had a draw and a loss against Venezuela and Uruguay, respectively, as he also broke the Anterior Cruciate Ligament of his knee, which was a season-ending injury. Al-Ahli youngster Gabri Veiga has been able to leave his mark in the few minutes he has featured in with the U21 Spain national team against Kazakhstan, providing an assist in the 4-0 victory.


Al-Shabab’s Yannick Ferreira Carrasco has contributed to the win of the Belgian national team providing an assist in the 3-2 victory against Austria. The Scotland team of Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq) have also snatched their ticket into the Euros, despite the loss against Spain. They have also lost a friendly game against France. Hendry started both games.


What’s Going Wrong with Al-Ittihad’s Build-up Play?


Al-Feyha’s Fashion Sakala has scored a goal for the Zambian national team in the victory against Uganda 3-0. The Armenia team of Lucas Zelarayan (Al-Fateh) have lost their Euros qualifying game against Latvia 0-2, with the player participating for 82 minutes of the game.


Al-Ettifaq’s Robin Quaison has started the game of his national team Sweden against Moldova, as they have won 3-1. Al-Ahli’s Ezgjan Alioski has lost with his North Macedonian side against Ukraine 2-0, with him starting the game. Romania’s Andrei Burca and Nicolae Stanciu have drawn against Belarus and beaten Andorra with both SPL players on the field, in both games.



Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Anadolu Agency / Ali Al-Haji / AFP