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AFC Champions League | Round of 16 | 1st Leg
Feb 14, 2024 at 6pm UK
Al Majma'ah Sports City Stadium (Al Majma'ah)
Al Fayha
0 - 1

Al-Shuwaish (77'), Sabiri (82')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Ronaldo (81')
Alkhaibari (37'), Al-Najjar (85')

Preview: Al Fayha vs. Al-Nassr - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's AFC Champions League clash between Al Fayha and Al-Nassr, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

In an all-Saudi affair, Al Fayha will battle Al-Nassr in the opening leg of their round of 16 tie in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.

A 4-1 come-from-behind triumph over Pakhator in their final group fixture enabled the Orange to advance as one of the best second-place finishers with nine points, while Al-Nassr were unbeaten in the group phase, playing to a 1-1 draw with Istikol on the final matchday.

Match preview

Al Fayha coach Vuk Rasovic© Reuters

Quite often in tournaments like this one, it is not how you start that is as important as how you finish, and that was the case for Al Fayha in the group stage.

Despite losing three of their opening four fixtures, the Orange came through when needed, winning their final two encounters and scoring a combined seven goals in those triumphs.

Vuk Rasovic's side have been in a lengthy slump at home lately, losing three successive home fixtures in the Saudi Pro League and conceding 10 times over that stretch.

Their last home victory came in late November over Ahal on matchday five of the Champions League group stage (3-1), while they have suffered five successive defeats versus Saudi opponents in the top flight, dropping them down to 14th in the table, just two points above the relegation line.

The 2023-24 campaign is their first-ever in this competition, and this will be the first time they compete in a two-leg affair, having been knocked out of the King's Cup last October (3-0 versus Al-Ittihad), the first time they had exited that tournament in the last 16 since January 2020 (1-0 loss to Al Ahli).

All of their domestic points in 2023-24 have come when scoring the opening goal, though two of their three triumphs in the group portion of this tournament occurred when the opposite transpired.

Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo shakes hands with Al Ittihad's Ahmed Hegazy on January 26, 2023© Reuters

It is their first Champions League appearance since the 2020-21 campaign, but Al-Nassr looked more than comfortable in the opening phase, winning their first four games.

Wednesday will be the fourth time they feature in the knockout stage of this competition in their last four appearances, with Al-Alami making it beyond the round of 16 in their three previous appearances at this tournament.

Their domestic title aspirations took a hit last Thursday, losing 2-0 to the league-leaders Al-Hilal, falling seven points behind them in the race for first, with their seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions ending as a result.

Luis Castro's men reacted well when faced with a setback in the Champions League group stage, coming back to earn a positive result three times when conceding the opening goal.

Two of their three defeats domestically in 2023-24 came when they were away from home, though they have not lost a Champions League match outside of Riyadh since September 2020 (1-0 defeat versus Al-Ain at Education City Stadium in Qatar).

They are unbeaten in their last 10 competitive fixtures versus Al Fayha, with their previous defeat against them occurring in the 2017-18 Saudi Pro League campaign (1-0).

Al Fayha AFC Champions League form:

Al Fayha form (all competitions):

Al-Nassr AFC Champions League form:

Al-Nassr form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Al Nassr coach Luis Castro reacts on November 24, 2023© Reuters

Abdelhamid Sabiri has an unknown problem and is unlikely to be available for Al Fahya on Wednesday, while Mohammed Majrashi is also expected to be sidelined due to a cruciate ligament injury.

Ghislain Konan, on loan from Al-Nassr, won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast on Sunday, while fellow Al-Nassr loanee Youssef Haqawi got just his second start of the tournament on matchday six at centre-back.

Fashion Sakala has three goals in his last two Champions League affairs, including a brace on matchday six, while Sultan Mandash and Henry Onyekuru also found the back of the net for the first time in this competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored three goals for Al-Nassr in the Champions League group phase, was back in the lineup last Thursday for the first time since suffering an unknown injury in late January, while David Ospina is questionable because of a torn thigh muscle.

Only two Al-Nassr players that started their matchday five Champions League affair maintained their place in the starting 11 on matchday six, Sami Al-Najei and Abdulrahman Ghareeb.

Talisca has six goals in this Champions League season, which is tied with Cryzan for the most at this tournament, though he did not score in their final two group fixtures.

Al Fayha possible starting lineup:
Stojkovic, Al-Khalaf, Al-Baqawi, Haqawi, Al-Shuwaish, Konan; Mandash, Al-Safri, Kaabi, Sakala; Onyekuru

Al-Nassr possible starting lineup:
Al-Najjar; Boushal, Al-Fatil, Laporte, Qassem; Al-Khaibari, Al-Sulaiheem; Otavio, Al-Najei, Mane; Ronaldo

SM words green background

We say: Al Fayha 1-4 Al-Nassr

Al-Nassr have plenty of seasoned veterans who know what it takes to win the UEFA Champions League, and we expect they will thrive in this spotlight just as they have their entire careers in competitions like this.

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

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