The crisis continues to engulf fallen 2018/19 champions Al Nassr as they head into week eight of a tumultuous Saudi Professional League campaign.
A 100th-minute equalization from the penalty spot against Ettifaq on Monday prevented the Riyadh giants from reaching the low point. Third-placed Al Ahli Jeddah’s visit on Saturday offers another close-up test of their questionable, current skills.
Here is an overview with Wyscout’s Help of the trio of outstanding games of this round:
AL NASSR V AL AHLI JEDDAH (SATURDAY, 8:45 PM)
2020/21 couldn’t get much worse for Nassr and contested boss Rui Vitoria.
The agonizing loss to the exhausted Iranian Persepolis denied them both a first place in the AFC Champions League and started a spiral for the kick-off of the SPL. A coronavirus outbreak, debilitating injuries and five losses from seven games followed for the ailing team with the lowest average age this season of 26.4 years.
Without the late interventions of Sami Al Najei and Abderrazak Hamdallah, this descent would have been completed at home in Ettifaq. Nonetheless, Vitoria holds on to power and is now faced with the opposition to which he has never lost in five meetings.
Ahli has its own problems, although he’s nine points and twelve places better off. The surprising 4-3 loss to Al Ain on Saturday caused a stir, while Talisman Omar Al Somah will be missing at the top.
Expect a fun but flawed competition.
Forecast: Al Nassr 2-2 Al Ahli Jeddah
AL SHABAB V AL ITTIHAD (FRIDAY, 8:45 PM)
Nassr has vacated his place as Master Al Hilal’s most likely challenger.
Clubs fighting for the coat fight in Riyadh this weekend.
Host Shabab slipped in their first loss of the season to Al Qadsiyah but can still feel confident that they will face the challenges ahead. Makhete Diop’s high profile team goal in that loss demonstrated coach Pedro Caixinha’s ability to improve quality.
An increase in the average ball possession of almost 10 percent can also be recorded from 2019/20 without the renowned Argentine conductor Ever Banega (47.6 percent) and in 2020/21 with him (57.4 percent).
Opponent Ittihad, meanwhile, shows the advantages of a correct transfer policy after years of costly mistakes. The Brazilian midfielder Bruno Henrique, the loaned Egyptian central defender Ahmed Hegazi and even the Saudi Arabian veteran Omar Hawsawi convinced coach Fabio Carille’s vision.
The eighth most angular defense of 2019/20 is now the third most fixed of this term.
It will now be up to Henrique and Abdulellah Al Malki to disrupt Banega’s river. By the time you do that, the tigers will really have rediscovered their roar.
Forecast: Al Shabab 0-1 Al Ittihad
AL AIN V AL QADSIYAH (FRIDAY, 4:35 pm)
Promoted teams bring the hostilities back together in the top division.
Visitors Al Qadsiyah and Al Ain rounded off the top 3 of the Prince Mohammad bin Salman League 2019/20 behind the winners Al Batin. Saturday’s competition is a first-ever SPL meetup where Al Ain competes for the first time – unlike regular Qadsiyah who are back after a season’s absence.
The clubs are only separated by three points and three points after Al Ain’s undefeated run in three games brought them out of the drop zone to 13th. Qadsiyah prevailed at King Saud Sports City Stadium in September 2019, but with so many changes to every roster, this game is no barometer.
What should interest Qadsiyah boss Yousef Al Mannai is the fact that his side’s expected goals against 8.71 are significantly better than Al Ain’s 11.52. You now need to make sure that this statistical superiority is reflected on the field of play.
Forecast: Al Ain 1-3 Al Qadsiyah
MATCH WEEK EIGHT FASTENERS
16:35 Al Ain versus Al Qadsiyah
18:50 Al Raed versus Al Faisaly
20:45 Al Shabab versus Al Ittihad
16:35 Abha versus Al Taawoun
18:25 Ettifaq versus Damac
18:30 Al Fateh versus Al Batin
20:45 Al Nassr versus Al Ahli Jeddah
20:45 Al Hilal versus Al Wehda
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