Al-Ittihad, “the leader”, is looking to overtake its defending rival, Al-Hilal, to get closer to the Saudi Football League title, when they meet tonight at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh in a match postponed from the twelfth stage. Al-Ittihad, the eight-time title holder against 17 titles for Hilal, is on top with 54 points from 22 games, while Al-Hilal is fourth with 40 points, knowing that it has two matches postponed. Additional confidence and bring him closer to the top of the standings, especially if he managed to win his two postponed matches against Al-Fayhaa and Al-Ettifaq, while Al-Ittihad’s victory would put him a few steps away from crowning the title he last achieved in 2009.
Al-Ittihad is proceeding at a steady pace, as it did not waste in its last 13 matches only two points, after drawing with Al-Taawon, while the victory was its share in all other matches.
Al-Ittihad hopes to continue its strong performances and get closer to crowning the title, especially since its victory over Al-Hilal will widen the difference with its closest young pursuers to 11 points, seven stages before the end of the league.
Al-Ittihad will miss a number of its main players in the expected “El Clasico”, most notably its new Moroccan scorer Abdel Razzaq Hamdallah and defender Omar Hawsawi due to injury, and Abdel Rahman Al Aboud due to suspension, to join the Brazilian Igor Cornado and the Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazy, who have been continuing their treatment program for some time.
Hamdallah has performed brilliantly since his move during the winter transfer period after wearing the colors of victory, as he scored 7 goals in 5 matches, including a hat-trick against Al-Ahly in the Jeddah derby.
Despite these absences from the Romanian coach Cosmin Contra’s squad, the leaders can count on distinguished players such as the Brazilian trio Marcelo Grohe, Bruno Henrique, Romarinho, Abdulaziz Al-Bishi, Fahd Al-Muwallad and Muhannad Al-Shanqiti.
On the other hand, Al Hilal sacked its Portuguese coach, Leonardo Jardim, due to the decline in his results and a heavy loss against Al-Ahly of Egypt in the Club World Cup, and replaced him with the returning Argentine Ramon Dias, which reflected positively on the results.
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