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Al Nassr manager explains why Cristiano Ronaldo struggled on debut

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Al Nassr manager Rudi Garcia has claimed his team tried too hard to involve Cristiano Ronaldo in his debut for the Saudi Arabian side.

After serving his suspension which he picked up in England for slapping the phone out of an Everton fan’s hand, Ronaldo made his long-awaited debut for Al Nassr in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Ettifaq but failed to find the back of the net.

The 37-year-old was handed the captain’s armband for the game but spent most of the 90 minutes on the fringes of things, and Garcia admitted his side must figure out how to play alongside Ronaldo.

“It’s very important for the players to play normally and not always try to give the ball to Cristiano,” the boss told reporters. “I told them they need to make the right choices on the pitch. Obviously when Cristiano or Talisca are alone and asking for the ball we need to give them the ball. These two players are able to make the difference.

“Tonight, I think that sometimes we had good positions to cross but not enough people in the box – and sometimes no Ronaldo and no Talisca. We need to work on that, to have one of them in the box and maybe the other playing outside the box.”

Nevertheless, Garcia was adamant Ronaldo will come good soon, even claiming Sunday’s game was the first time in months that the Portugal striker has played with a smile on his face.

“Everyone knows Cristiano – he’s a five-time Ballon d’Or winner,” Garcia continued. “He’s one of the best players in the history of football. It’s up to us to make sure we get him in the best condition. I want him to enjoy playing here and tonight he was happy to play for the first time.”

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