Who is Marcelo Gallardo, coach of the Saudi All-Star XI?

Racing Club v River Plate - Liga Profesional 2022
Racing Club v River Plate - Liga Profesional 2022 / Marcelo Endelli/GettyImages

PSG will play a saucy friendly against an All-Star XI featuring the best players from clubs Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. The Saudi Arabian team will be captained by Cristiano Ronaldo and coached by former River Plate coach and PSG player Marcelo Gallardo.

Gallardo was picked by the Saudi Arabia federation as the coach for the game against PSG.

A legend in Argentina after winning multiple trophies over his years at River Plate, El Muñeco is already in Arabia to coach Cristiano Ronaldo and Pity Martinez in Thursday's eagerly awaited match against the Parisian stars.

In an anticipated clash of stars that will take place next Thursday in Saudi Arabia, one side will have Lionel Messi (PSG) and the other side will have his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo (Saudi Arabia All-Star XI). There will be another supremely talented man on the pitch, or better said the sidelines, tomorrow: Marcelo Gallardo, who will return to manage a game after leaving River Plate last year.

Gallardo will coach the All-Star team (officially named "Riyadh Season Team") which will feature the best players of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. He received the invitation to coach the game and accepted it, as was the case in 2022 with French manager Arsene Wenger.

Marcelo Gallardo is the best coach in the history of Argentina's giant River Plate

Cristiano Ronaldo will captain the Saudi team, but there will be more star players playing on Gallardo's side. Ronaldo will be accompanied by Pity Martinez, Andre Carrillo, Salem Al-Dawsari, Luiz Gustavo, and Vincent Aboubakar among others.

Keylor Navas will play on PSG's side, but he might soon join Ronaldo at Al-Nassr with the Saudi Arabia club interested in signing the Parisian goalie. Sergio Ramos is in a similar position and might join Al-Nassr soon too.

This match will be played as part of the Riyadh Season, an event sponsored by the Arab state that has been held since 2019, usually from October to March, and aims to promote entertainment and sport in the region.

The actual game between PSG and the All-Star would have been played last January (2022), but it was postponed for health and safety (COVID-related) reasons. It will earn PSG around €10-15M.

Christophe Galtier is the current coach of Paris-Saint Germain, but almost 23 years ago, while employed at Olympique de Marseille, he met Marcelo Gallardo on the pitch in a clash that came to blows (!) in the middle of the tunnel in April 2000.

"The first half ended and we went into the tunnel altogether. That's when the ambush happened," explains Gallardo. "At the entrance of the tunnel, there were some private security guys... I was one of the last to enter and when I got inside I noticed that the security had cut off the entrance to the tunnel. Inside was Galtier waiting for me. He spoke to me a little bit in Spanish, and kind of grabbed me by the hair. I played dumb and shook him off. I just saw that he was going to throw a punch and I elbowed him in the middle of the face."

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Gallardo, who ended up in a hospital in Monaco back then, suffered injuries in his groin, stomach, nose, lips, and eyes, due to the blows he received. The following day, Gallardo filed a police report, and Galtier was later punished with a six-month suspension while Gallardo earned a one-game suspension.