Saudi Pro League 2023: Al-Ittihad vs. Al Hilal: Who will win today’s Al-Ittihad vs. Al Hilal match at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium?

Saudi Pro League 2023: 

Al-Ittihad vs. Al Hilal: 

Who will win today’s 

Al-Ittihad vs. Al Hilal 

match at Prince Abdullah 

Al Faisal Stadium?

 

Introduction

The marquee
fixture in this weekend’s Saudi Pro League sees table-topping Al-Ittihad host
third-placed Al Hilal at the raucous Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium. With
Al-Ittihad holding a 5-point lead at the summit, victory on Sunday would
strengthen their grip on pole position. However, Al Hilal is desperate to claw
back ground on their title rivals and keep pace in the championship race. With
the top two clubs in the kingdom going head-to-head, expect a tense and
tactical battle between these heavyweight outfits.

Saudi Pro League 2023: Al-Ittihad vs. Al Hilal: Who will win today's Al-Ittihad vs. Al Hilal match at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium?

Al-Ittihad’s
Imperious Form

Al-Ittihad has
recently hit a rich vein of form, powering to the league’s top after five
consecutive victories. The attack has been their best defense during this
dominant run, finding the back of the net 13 times while conceding just twice.
The likes of Romarinho and Abderrazak Hamdallah have been central to
Al-Ittihad’s prolific scoring. At the other end, the center-back pairing of
Jang Kyum-Chol and Ahmed Al-Boleahi has provided sturdy resistance to nullify
the opposition’s chances. Al-Ittihad dismantled previous league leaders Al
Shabab in their last outing, strolling to a 3-0 triumph. Coach Cosmin Olaroiu
has his squad firing on all cylinders at precisely the right campaign time.

 

Al Hilal’s
Mixed Bag of Results

Al Hilal has
experienced fluctuating fortunes in their past few fixtures. A 1-0 loss away to
relegation candidates Al-Fateh offset comfortable wins over Abha and Al-Batin.
That defeat saw Al Hilal surrender the top spot as their title push stalled.
However, a resounding 3-1 victory over Al-Taawoun last time out got their
challenge back on track. Much will depend on striker Odion Ighalo rediscovering
his clinical edge after three games without a goal. Al Hilal manager Ramon Diaz
also needs Portuguese midfielder Matheus Pereira to supply ammunition to Ighalo
following a dip in form. If Al Hilal wants to win the championship, they must
avoid losing three in a row.

 

Previous
Meeting This Season

When Al-Ittihad
and Al Hilal last met in August, the home side claimed a tightly contested 2-1
win. Goals from Romarinho and Hamdallah had Al-Ittihad ahead at the break.
Ighalo pegged one back late for Al Hilal, but they couldn’t prevent Al-Ittihad
from securing the three points. That victory propelled Al-Ittihad’s surge up
the table while halting Al Hilal’s early season momentum. Al Hilal will be
hungry to flip the script this time around.

 

Players That
Could Decide the Contest

Al-Ittihad’s
hopes rest heavily on the shoulders of Brazilian playmaker Igor Coronado. In
his team’s five-game winning streak, the 30-year-old scored four goals and
assisted on three more. Al Hilal must find a way to subdue Coronado’s creative
instincts if they are to emerge victorious. Ighalo is Al Hilal’s undisputed
dangerman. Despite a recent dry spell, the Nigerian assassin is still one of
the most dangerous scorers in Saudi Arabia. Ighalo can be a game-changer if he
finds his scoring touch again. Al-Ittihad center backs Jang and Al-Boleahi face
a considerable test keeping Ighalo quiet.

 

How the Tactics
Could Unfold

Based on recent
successes, expect Al-Ittihad manager Olaroiu to persist with his well-balanced
4-2-3-1 system. The priority will be staying compact and organized early before
utilizing the pace of Romarinho and Hamdallah to pierce Al Hilal on the
counter. Given their need for goals, Al Hilal boss Diaz may opt for a more
ambitious 4-4-2 formation. This would allow Ighalo to combine with Abdullah
Al-Hamdan up top to put maximum pressure on Al-Ittihad’s backline. However, it
could also leave Al Hilal vulnerable to transitions.

 

Importance of
the Result for the Title Race

Victory for the
league leaders Al-Ittihad would extend their cushion to 8 valuable points. With
just 14 matches left, that would place them firmly in pole position to claim
their first title in over a decade. Conversely, if Al Hilal can reduce the
deficit to just 2 points, the championship race would be wide open again
heading into the final stretch. The momentum would swing back in Al Hilal’s
favor.

 

Prediction

Given their
sizzling form and home support, a narrow 2-1 victory for Al-Ittihad looks the
safest bet. Al Hilal won’t go down without a fight, thanks to Ighalo’s
presence. But Al-Ittihad’s sturdy defense should ultimately repel the visiting
challengers.

 

Possible
Lineups

Al-Ittihad(4-2-3-1): 

Gianniotis, Al-Shamekh, Karim Benzema, Al-Boleahi, Al-Shahrani, Al-Ghamdi,
Gustavo, Hamdallah, Coronado, Romarinho, Al-Qahtani

Al-Hilal
(4-4-2):
 

Al-Mayoof, Abdulhamid, Neymar, Al-Bulaihi, Khalifa, Cuellar, Kanno,
Al-Faraj, Al-Dawsari, Ighalo, Al-Hamdan

Team News and
Injuries

Al-Ittihad has
a fully fit squad to choose from after comfortable wins in recent weeks. Main
attacking threats Hamdallah and Coronado will lead the charge once again. Al
Hilal has concerns over Al-Faraj’s fitness after he hobbled off against
Al-Taawoun. That could see Cuellar earn a start in central midfield. Ighalo
will be hungry to rediscover his scoring touch.

 

Conclusion

This
tantalizing top-of-the-table tussle sees Saudi Pro League pacesetters Al-Ittihad
take on their nearest challengers, Al Hilal, with valuable points up for grabs.
Al-Ittihad is flying high, but Al Hilal has the pedigree to hit back in this
potential title decider. With elite talent on show like Coronado and Ighalo,
expect a tight tactical chess match between two motivated heavyweights intent
on landing a major psychological blow in the race for championship glory.

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