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AFC Champions League | Semi-Finals | 1st Leg
Apr 17, 2024 at 5pm UK
Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

4 - 2

Rahimi (6', 26' pen., 38' pen.), Romero (56' pen.)
Al Baloushi (9'), Erik (45+7'), Rahimi (69')
FT(HT: 3-0)
Malcom (49'), Al-Dawsari (78')
Al-Owais (26'), Albulayhi (37')

Preview: Al-Ain vs. Al-Hilal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's AFC Champions League clash between Al-Ain and Al-Hilal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Al-Ain welcome Al-Hilal to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium for the first leg of their AFC Champions League semi-final tie on Tuesday evening.

This will be the second Saudi Pro League side the hosts will be facing in the knockout stage of this competition after edging past another to get to this round.

Match preview

Al Ain coach Hernan Crespo on March 12, 2024© Reuters

Fourteen-time UAE Pro League champions Al-Ain are aiming to become continental champions for just the second time in their history. Since their triumph in 2003, the Bosses have only reached the finals twice after that, in 2005 and 2016.

Al-Ain cruised through the group stages, topping Group A with 15 points from a possible 18. This set up a clash against Uzbekistani Super League side Nasaf in the round of 16.

After a scoreless first leg, Al-Ain secured a 2-1 victory at home in the second leg to progress to the quarter-finals. There, they faced Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr, whom they defeated on penalties after a 4-4 aggregate draw.

Tuesday's clash will be Al-Ain's 13th meeting against Al-Hilal, with all previous encounters occurring in the AFC Champions League. The last time they met was in 2019, where the Emirati side lost 3-0 on aggregate in the group stage.

The Bosses have a strong record against Al-Hilal at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, winning four, drawing one, and losing just one of their six home games against them.

However, their recent form is concerning, as they have not won any of their last four matches across all competitions, drawing two and losing two. This includes a 2-1 defeat to Al-Ittihad Kalba that knocked them out of the UAE President's Cup in the quarter-finals.

Al Hilal coach Jorge Jesus on September 15, 2023© Reuters

Al-Hilal come into this match fresh from lifting the Saudi Super Cup last Thursday. The Blue Waves secured the title with a convincing 4-1 victory over Al Ittihad in Abu Dhabi.

Brazilian forward Malcolm was the star of the show with two goals, while Salem Aldawsari and Nasser Al-Dawsari also got on the scoresheet.

Jorge Jesus's side are on course for a remarkable quadruple this season. They are well-placed to win the Saudi Pro League title, holding a 12-point lead over Al-Nassr with seven games remaining. They are also in the semi-finals of the King's Cup and the AFC Champions League.

Al-Hilal are currently on an unprecedented winning streak in world football, having won their last 34 matches across all competitions. The Blue Waves are also unbeaten in the AFC Champions League, winning every match except a 1-1 draw on Matchday One against Uzbekistani side Navbahor.

Al-Ain AFC Champions League form:

Al-Hilal AFC Champions League form:

Al-Hilal form (all competitions):

Team News

AAl Ain's Bandar Mohammed reacts on March 11, 2024© Reuters

Joint-leading scorer in this competition, Soufiane Rahimi, did not feature in Al-Ain's draw with Al Jazira last time out after coming off against Al Nasr on April 7, and could miss Tuesday's clash.

Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba missed the previous round against Al-Nassr but is now available and is expected to lead the attack against Al-Hilal.

As for the visitors, they will continue to be without their marquee signing Neymar after he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in October that is expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season.

Muteb Al Mufarrij joins the Brazilian on the treatment table with his own cruciate ligament injury that will keep him sidelined until the end of the campaign.

The competition's joint-top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic is also sidelined after picking up a hamstring injury during the 4-3 win over Al Shabab on March 30.

Al-Ain possible starting lineup:
Eisa; Traore, Al-Hashemi, Autonne, Erik; Park; Atzili, Al Baloushi, Palacios, Santos; Kodjo Fo-Doh

Al-Hilal possible starting lineup:
Bono; Abdulhamid, Koulibaly, Albulayhi, Lodi; Neves, Milinkovic-Savic; Michael, Malcom, Al-Dawsari; Al-Shehri

SM words green background

We say: Al-Ain 0-1 Al-Hilal

This is a tough one to call. Al-Ain have home advantage and past success there, but Al-Hilal's incredible form is undeniable. We expect a close match, but Al-Hilal's inevitability might just see them through in the end.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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