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Al Nassr's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Cristiano Ronaldo faces his toughest test so far with his new team Al Nassr as the Saudi Pro League leaders face second-placed Al Ittihad at King Abdullah Sports City stadium on Thursday night.

Ronaldo’s Riyadh club, who are eight-time Saudi champions, are chasing their first top-flight crown in four years and are keen to seize back domestic bragging rights from cross-city rivals Al Hilal.

Lost 3-1

But the last time Al Nassr met Al Ittihad things did not go according to plan for the Portuguese superstar and his teammates. They were beaten 3-1 in the Saudi Super Cup semi-final in the January clash. Another defeat could derail their title hopes.

They are seeking revenge and will look to the former Real Madrid and Juventus star, who failed to score in that hotly contested clash, to make the difference in the top of the table encounter.

The teams are seperated by just two points making the match all the more crucial in the title race.

Ronaldo initially had made a slow start to life in Saudi Arabia when he joined Al Nassr in January. He had arrived at the club after having his contract with Manchester United terminated following his sensational interview with Piers Morgan where he criticised the Premier League outfit.

But he has quickly picked up momentum with several sterling displays and is in top form right now. He got off the mark by grabbing a late equaliser from the spot against Al Fateh then was at his vintage best against Al Wehda where he scored four times. He followed that up by assisting both goals in the 2-1 win against Al Taawoun and then got a hat-trick against Damak.

Eight goals

He scored eight times in six games which landed him the February Player of the Month award but the 38-year-old will face a tough test against Al Ittihad who have the best defensive record in the league conceding just six goals in 19 games.

They are unbeaten in 10 matches against Al Nassr and have won eight of their past nine. In attack, Abderrazak Hamdallah and Romarinho have been dangerous all season while playing behind them is Igor Coronado, one of the league’s best playmakers.

The title rivals have met 39 times across all competitions since 1967 with each team winning 14 times. The reverse league fixture last October ended in a 0-0 draw but another stalemate seems unlikely what with Ronaldo in blistering form.

If he shines and leads his side to victory they will go five points clear at the top.