Rudi Garcia loses his job as Cristiano Ronaldo gets surprise new Al Nassr coach

By Sports Desk April 13, 2023

Al Nassr showed Rudi Garcia the door on Thursday and handed little-known Croatian Dinko Jelicic the chance to boss Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho had been linked with a possible Ronaldo reunion, having coached the Portuguese at Real Madrid.

Spanish newspaper AS this week claimed Mourinho had been offered a two-year contract worth €100million.

For now at least, Al Nassr have put Jelicic in charge, promoting him from his position in charge of their under-19 team.

The Riyadh-based club said: "Al Nassr can announce that head coach Rudi Garcia has left the club by mutual agreement.

"The board and everyone at Al Nassr would like to thank Rudi and his staff for their dedicated work during the past 8 months.

"We can announce that our U19 coach, Mr Dinko Jelicic will be the new head coach for the first team. Good luck, Mr Dinko."

Frenchman Garcia was a Ligue 1 winner as head coach of Lille in 2010-11 and the 59-year-old has also bossed Roma, Marseille and Lyon.

He was appointed in late June last year and departs with Al Nassr sitting second in the Pro League with seven games remaining, three points behind leaders Al Ittihad, to whom they lost last month.

Ronaldo's arrival as a free agent after his release by Manchester United was announced in late December, and the 38-year-old superstar has drawn unprecedented attention to the league.

Real Madrid's record scorer spent three seasons playing under fellow Portuguese Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu from 2010 to 2013, and it remains to be seen whether they are reacquainted in the future.

Jelicic gets the chance to lead the team for now, and he may make the job his own.

Should Al Nassr fall short of overhauling Al Ittihad, however, they may have reason to think again, and it could prove less disruptive to prise away a top coach of Mourinho's ilk during the close season rather than at the business end.

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    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was named in Roberto Martinez's starting XI as Portugal started their Euro 2024 campaign against Czechia in Leipzig.

    Having appeared at every Euros since his 2004 debut, Ronaldo is the first to register six tournament outings in the 64-year history of UEFA's top international competition.

    Ronaldo also equalled the record for the most consecutive European Championship appearances made for a nation, featuring in all 18 of Portugal's matches since the Euro 2008 quarter-final.

    Only Leonardo Bonucci, for Italy between 2012 and 2021, can match that feat – but no player comes near the 39-year-old's scoring record on the European stage.

    Since 1972, Ronaldo has managed 20 goal contributions at the Euros (14 goals, six assists), more than double any other player – France's Michel Platini is second on 10 (nine goals, one assist).

    Yet there was more history for another Portugal player in Martinez's line-up.

    Veteran centre-back Pepe is just the second player to appear in as many as 20 games at the European Championship finals after Ronaldo (26).

    That pair are the first and third oldest players to play at this competition's finals, too, as well as being the oldest two outfielders, with Pepe aged 41 years and 113 days and Ronaldo at 39 years and 134 days.

  • The Numbers Game: England out to book last-16 spot at Euro 2024 The Numbers Game: England out to book last-16 spot at Euro 2024

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    The Three Lions beat the Danes in the semi-finals at Euro 2020, coming from behind to win 2-1 after extra time.

    Harry Kane was England's hero as he converted a penalty winner, though spot-kicks would of course go on to prove to be their downfall in the final against Italy.

    There is less on the line when England face Denmark again on Thursday, though Gareth Southgate's team will progress to the knockout stage should they win.

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    Denmark are sure to be no pushovers, though, and have a 20.6 per cent win likelihood, with the draw threat at 25 per cent.

    This will be the fourth encounter between Denmark and England at a major tournament. Three of those will have come at the Euros, and one at the 2002 World Cup.

    Denmark won none of the previous three meetings (D1 L2), scoring only one goal in the process, Mikkel Damsgaard's free-kick in the semi-final of Euro 2020.

    There have only been five goals scored in the last four meetings between Denmark (two) and England (three) in all competitions.

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    Having become the first player to play at two European Championship tournaments before the age of 21, he is also the second England player to score at two major tournaments before turning 21 (also scored vs Iran at the 2022 World Cup), along with Michael Owen, who scored at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

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    Southgate's system seems designed to allow Bellingham to flourish, though has that come at the expense of Phil Foden?

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    Christian the Great (Dane)

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    At 32 years and 123 days old, he became the oldest Dane to score at the Euros and oldest at a major tournament since 33-year-old Jon Dahl Tomasson at the 2010 World Cup.

    It was a clever run and deft finish from the Manchester United playmaker, who created seven chances from set-pieces in the match, the most by a player in a European Championship fixture since Gary McAllister in 1992 for Scotland against Germany (eight).

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    Despite their run to the last four three years ago, Denmark have won just one of their last six group stage games at the Euros (D1 L4), beating Russia 4-1 at Euro 2020 to ensure qualification to the round of 16.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Denmark - Rasmus Hojlund 

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    Foden created just one chance in a subdued performance against Serbia, but there can be no doubting his quality.

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    The Real Madrid midfielder curled home a stunner from outside the area to put Turkiye 2-1 midway through the second half and become the youngest player to score on his Euros debut, with Kerem Akturkoglu confirming the win after a wave of Georgia pressure. 

    Ahead of the encounter in Dortmund, fans from both nations were involved in scenes of violence inside the stadium as torrential weather conditions threatened to postpone Georgia's maiden bow at an international tournament. 

    Turkiye led in the 25th minute, as Mert Muldur, who had scored just once before for his nation, fired home a goal of the tournament contender with a sweet volley into the top corner. 

    The Turkish supporters packed into Westfalenstadion were in raptures when they thought their side had doubled their advantage two minutes later, only for Kenan Yildiz's effort to be disallowed for offside by VAR. 

    And a moment of history arrived for Georgia when Georges Mikautadze neatly flicked a finish beyond Mert Gunok at the near post.

    Yet Turkiye's lead was restored when Guler picked out the top-left corner, breaking a record set by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004 in the process.

    Georgia went agonisingly close to an equaliser - Giorgi Kochorashvili hitting the crossbar and drilling off target from close range while Khvicha Kvaratskhelia struck the post and Samet Akaydin made a goal-line block.

    But with Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili up for a corner deep in injury time, Turkiye broke and Akturkoglu placed the ball into the empty net to settle a thrilling Group F clash.

    Data Debrief: Guler steals the show as Turkiye and Georgia light up Euro 2024

    In a match that featured 36 shots and a combined 4.3 xG, Guler's sublime effort saw him become the youngest Turkish player to score a goal in the history of major tournaments at just 19 years 114 days.

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