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Manchester United Star Who Foiled Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup Ambitions Hails Him As the Best Player Ever Faced

Published 04/02/2024, 5:22 AM EDT

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Naming Cristiano Ronaldo as his toughest opponent was a key highlight of Chelsea legend Ashley Cole‘s English Premier League Hall of Fame inducement speech. Recently, Manchester United star, Sofyan Amrabat, who faced Ronaldo in the Italian League, revealed he thinks along the same lines as Cole. Interestingly, this admission comes from the Morocco international, despite having the better of the CR7-led Portuguese team when it mattered the most.

Amrabat recently had a free-wheeling conversation with Manchester United fans in a Q&A session. During the interaction, an Australian fan asked the midfielder, who was the best player he had ever faced. “I’d say, Cristiano Ronaldo,” said Amrabat in response, as compiled by MUFC’s website. Amrabat faced Ronaldo in the Serie A four times during his stints with Hellas Verona and Fiorentina. Meanwhile, CR7 was with Juventus in all those games. The Moroccan midfielder has won twice, lost once, and drew once against the Al Nassr skipper in those meetings.

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Why has Sofyan Ambrabat rated Cristiano Ronaldo so high, despite boasting a better winning record against him? It is perhaps because the 5x Ballon d’Or winner conveniently outclassed Amrabat and Co. in their first meeting. During the 2019-20 season, Ronaldo scored once and contributed an assist in Juventus’ 2-1 win over Hellas Verona. Anyhow, the Portuguese veteran failed to hold his ground against Amrabat’s Morocco side in the 2022 World Cup, thereby exiting the coveted competition in the quarter-finals.

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When Amrabat and Co. ended Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup run

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar was a forgetful tournament for Cristiano Ronaldo. The then-Portuguese coach Fernando Santos benched Ronaldo during the RO16 tie against Switzerland. Similarly, the skipper did not start against Morocco in the quarter-finals of the tournament. Portugal conceded an early goal against Morocco. Minutes later, CR7 stepped in for the 2016 UEFA Euro winners. But he misfired and painfully watched the game wither away from his team. At the final whistle, Amrabat and co. cruised into their first-ever semi-final appearance at the FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, Ronaldo left the pitch in tears.

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Amrabat notably joined the Moroccan side despite being eligible to also play for the Netherlands. The Dutch side is, on any given day, a safer bet than the Moroccan team at the World Cup. However, the Manchester United man chose his homeland and did them proud in Qatar. He had been at the center of Morocco’s action with decisive passes and game-changing tackles in the tournament. What do you think of Sofyan Amrabat’s statement on Ronaldo? Tell us in the comments.

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Written by:

Krishna Prasad M

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Krishna Prasad is Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. Unlike others, his journey as a sports enthusiast was not colored by soccer initially. The 2006 FIFA World Cup, however, changed his perspective, as the beautiful game took up a small space in his heart.
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Edited by:

Sreeda U M