Victory, but with a painful twist for Al Nassr and Pity Martinez.
His tortured start to life in Riyadh after $ 18million exchanged from Atlanta United in September appeared to be nearing a definitive end after an eight-minute deflected free kick against Al Wehda in just over four Saudi Professional League five Goals or assists scored-outs. The Argentine winger had only received one template in the last five top games when new employers experienced a nightmare start and the foundation stone was laid for the later departure of the 2018/19 title winner Rui Vitoria.
His reported side injury would lead to an early elimination half an hour ago in Wednesday’s 3-1 triumph, the fifth in the former crisis club’s last six games. Critical to any hope of sustaining Nassr’s resurgence under Caretaker Alen Horvat is that no major blow has occurred – a link between Martinez’s growing influence and improved results is evident.
Purchased at a hefty price to help break dependency on Moroccan internationals Nordin Amrabat and Abderrazak Hamdallah, the 27-year-old offers an important alternative for attacking eclectic owner Al Hilal.
This transition was more unsettled than hoped – or expected. However, there are first signs that things are finally starting.
Martinez ‘”complicated legacy” from Major League Soccer, as from SB nationseemed to have traveled to the Middle East with him. On his top division debut, a 2-1 loss to Al Fateh, when an xG (expected goals) of 0.03 was recorded, little of the wealth of talent that the South American Footballer of the Year 2018 was evident River Plate had shown. or just a failed pass attempt was made in an invisible 2-0 derby defeat against Hilal.
Hamdallah was barely there to pull her out of the drop zone. Even if they were present for 438 minutes, an SPL hit followed.
A significant drop from 2019’s global top scorer.
Amrabat has scored goals at Al Faisaly and Al Batin, although zero assists for a player largely stationed on the wing speak volumes about a drop in performance. Also a decrease from the division’s leading average of 12.2 dribbles per 90 minutes in the last tenure to that figure of 7.8.
Nassr’s early season editions can’t just be attributed to the toothless Atlas Lions.
Blame could be sent to Martinez before weighing a coronavirus outbreak and the rest.
Martinez responded, however, because it requires an eight figure purchase. A nifty free kick played in the up-and-coming Petros to open the 2-2 draw with Damac. He had a direct hand in the first two goals of the 3-0 win against newly promoted Al Ain and scored against Wehda.
Only the famous compatriot Ever Banega (31) from second-placed Al Shabab has produced more through balls than Martinez (30).
Consistency is fundamental now. The crown for 2020/21 is certainly gone for a seventh Nassr, nine points less than after 13 games.
However, there will be a 2021 AFC Champions League that needs to be addressed. A King’s Cup quarter-final with Al Ain is scheduled for March.
It is unlikely that Amrabat will be available in 2021/22. Hamdallah’s future also seems less certain than before.
These are key figures in Nassr’s modern history. Hamdallah has scored 64 goals in 58 SPL run-outs while Amrabat has scored 11 goals and 21 assists in 66 top games.
Equally dominant foreigners are required to create a promising foundation for a youthful cadre.
Martinez is still far from these numbers.
He must be that man. Starting now.
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