The best have separated themselves from the pack. After an Arab Club Champions Cup that saw many Cristiano Ronaldo heroics, Saudi Arabian clubs being a cut above the rest thanks to their late spending, and some late goals, two teams are left.
Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr have been the two teams that have spent the most this summer, mainly raiding European clubs to sign established stars.
It is bearing fruit now. The two teams collide on August 12 in the final of the Arab Club Champions Cup. Both teams have star-studded lineups so this is sure to be a marquee clash.
Here’s the match preview, buildup, team news, and more as the Arabian giants expected to fight for all titles in the country aim to get the first blow on the other.
Al-Hilal vs Al-Nassr preview
Al-Hilal started their journey in this tournament on a sour note. They drew their first game and lost the second to stare at the prospect of elimination.
However, since then, a victory in their final group stage fixture sent them on a wave of momentum. They overcame tough games against Karim Benzema’s Al-Ittihad, also beating Wydad and Al-Shabab to reach the finals.
Meanwhile, Al-Nassr’s games have been the Cristiano Ronaldo show. The Portuguese has scored in four consecutive games in the competition, with his effort against Zamalek in the final group stage game saving his team from elimination.
A penalty scored against Al-Shorta in the semifinal was the solitary goal again as Al-Nassr made their way to the final courtesy of Ronaldo’s heroics.
Al-Hilal vs Al-Nassr predicted lineup
Al-Hilal team news
Fans of European football will see plenty of familiar names when the lineups for this game drop.
Al-Hilal have arguably the strongest midfield of any side in the competition with Sergio Milinkovic-Savic and Ruben Neves in the middle. Kalidou Koulibaly marshalls the defence with Malcom leading the attack in a star-studded lineup.
A big miss will be their first-choice goalkeeper Al-Maiouf, who got a red card in the semifinal, suspending him from the final. Backup option Alwotayan is expected to take his place.
They can also be had down the wings with Al-Shahrani and Abdulhamid a level below these esteemed names and that is precisely what Al-Nassr will be targeting with their all-star wingers.
Predicted Al-Hilal XI: Alwotayan, Al Shahrani, Al Bulaihi, Koulibaly, Abdulhamid, Kanno, Neves, Al-Dawsari, Milinkovic-Savic, Carillo, Malcom
Al-Nassr team news
Al-Nassr have got a settled look to them. Sadio Mane has been incorporated into the starting lineup, thereby completing the trio of Ronaldo-Talisca-Mane up front.
Seko Fofana and Marcelo Brozovic will be tasked with taking on the midfield of Neves and Milinkovic-Savic.
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Alex Telles is the big name in defence and the same back four has played nearly all the games since Telles joined which should give them the benefit of cohesiveness.
Predicted Al-Nassr XI: Alaqidi, Al Ghanam, Alawjami, Madu, Telles, Brozovic, Fofana,Al-Khaibari, Mane, Talisca, Ronaldo
Al-Hilal vs Al-Nassr prediction
This game is expected to be a clash of equals. Al-Hilal’s win against Al-Ittihad is arguably the best performance of the tournament so far by any side. On the other hand, Al-Nassr haven’t looked fluent but somehow always find a way to win, often due to Ronaldo’s heroics.
On paper, both sides look evenly matched but these are the kind of games Ronaldo lives for. It is his chance to get his first trophy in Saudi Arabia less than a year after joining. So, he’ll be determined to roll back the years.
Expect a closely contested game that goes to penalties, with Al-Nassr eventually holding their nerve to go through.
FootTheBall predicts Al-Hila 1-1 Al-Nassr (Al-Nassr win on penalties).