Can Al-Ittihad defy the odds and beat Al-Nassr?
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Can Al-Ittihad defy the odds and beat Al-Nassr?

25/05/24 17:08

Victory a Necessity for Al-Ittihad on Saudi Pro League Final Day

The Premier League season may well be over, but there are still a whole host of big games before the European Championships get underway on June 14th. One of which is the Saudi Professional League match between Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad at the King Saud University Stadium on Monday evening. Although it is the final game week of the season, there is still plenty to play for, especially for the visitors.

How can Al-Ittihad qualify for the AFC Champions League Two

Last year’s champions have endured a difficult 2023/24 campaign, but victory in their final game will see them qualify for next season’s AFC Champions League 2 if other results go their way. After a wretched run of form, seeing the team lose four games on the bounce, Al-Ittihad have recovered somewhat recently, claiming four points in their two previous matches.

However, Marcelo Gallardo’s side have struggled in their travels as of late, tasting victory in just one of their previous four away matches. Alongside this, ‘Nadi Al-Sha’ab’ are yet to beat any of the teams that are currently sat above them in the league table this year, losing five and drawing two. As well as victory, Al-Ittihad need Al-Ettifaq to beat Al-Taawon in order to claim the all-important fourth place finish. In what looks like a tall order for the visitors, they will have to produce a performance resemblant of those that they delivered at the start of the season if they want any chance of ending the season on a high

To make matters worse, Al-Ittihad face one of the more difficult tests in the Saudi Pro League as they travel to this year’s runners-up Al-Nassr on the final day. Having the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mané, Otavia and Aymeric Laporte in their armoury, there is no doubt that the hosts will be disappointed that they couldn’t mount a significant title challenge this season. However, that is largely down to the excellence of Al-Hilal who claimed the title after a 4-1 victory against Al Hazem earlier this month, not to mention they are still unbeaten in the league this season.

On a more positive note for the hosts, all the statistics point towards a likely win on Monday evening to finish the season. Al-Nassr’s home record this campaign has been one of their strengths and they are unbeaten since the start of March at the King Saud University Stadium. When the sides met earlier in the campaign, Luís Castro’s side also won in convincing fashion. A brace from both Ronaldo and Mané as well as Anderson Talisca’s first-half strike gave the hosts a resounding 5-2 victory at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium. Though they have been confirmed a second-place finish for nearly a month, there have been no signs of the home side slowing down and avoiding defeat in their final match of the season will make it eight successive games without losing.

My Prediction?

Although there is jeopardy on the line for Al-Ittihad, it is hard to see them finding a sufficient result against an unforgiving Al-Nassr side. The hosts have scored an impressive 14 goals in their previous five matches, whilst their visitors have conceded 12 in the same time frame. Their miserable recent form alongside Al-Nassr’s merriment makes the likelihood of a home win incredibly probable.

Freddie’s Prediction: Al-Nassr 3-1 Al-Ittihad

Predicted line-ups:

Al-Nassr: Ospina, Al Ghannam, Lajami, Laporte, Telles, Al Khaibari, Yahya, Brozovic, Otavio, Mané, Ronaldo.

Al-Ittihad: Al Mahasneh, Al Saqour, Al Mosa, Kadesh, Al Shanqiti, Kante, Al Nashri, Al Ghamdi, Al Shamrani, Haji.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Freddie Cotton

Writer

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