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AFC Champions League | Quarter-Finals | 1st Leg
Mar 5, 2024 at 6pm UK
Kingdom Arena

2 - 0
Al Ittihad

Mitrovic (40' pen.), Al-Dawsari (42')
Milinkovic-Savic (79'), Koulibaly (81')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Kante (66')

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

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

Saudi rivals Al-Hilal and Al Ittihad will begin their quarter-final tie in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday, with the opening leg taking place at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

In the round of 16, the current Saudi Pro League leaders eliminated Sepahan 6-2 on aggregate, while the previous Pro League champions came from behind to win their second leg encounter versus Navbahor 2-1, advancing into the next round by that exact score.

Match preview

Al Hilal's Saleh Al-Shehri celebrates scoring their first goal with Malcom on March 1, 2024© Reuters

Jorge Jesus has seen his side steamroll the opposition domestically, and his side have looked just as strong at this tournament, winning both of their knockout fixtures by a 3-1 score.

Al Za'eem have won 27 consecutive matches, including domestic encounters, Champions League games, friendlies and King Cup of Champions fixtures.

After 22 domestic encounters in the Saudi top flight, they have built up a comfortable nine-point advantage atop the table as they seek to win that competition and the Champions League in the same season for the first time since 2020-21.

In their last six Champions League quarter-final appearances, Al-Hilal have advanced beyond this stage on each occasion and have not been knocked out of the last eight since 2011-12 (5-0 on aggregate versus Ulsan Hyundai).

Al-Hilal and arch-rivals Al-Nassr are the only sides remaining at this tournament who have not suffered a Champions League defeat this season, with Al-Za'eem winning 16 successive encounters in all competitions as the home team.

They are unbeaten in seven successive matches in all competitions versus Al Ittihad, winning the most recent encounter against them in the league, 3-1 last Friday.

Al Ittihad's N'Golo Kante celebrates scoring their first goal with Marwan Al Sahaf and Zakaria Al Hawsawi on March 1, 2024© Reuters

Some tough luck in the form of an own goal put Al Ittihad behind early into their second leg fixture versus Navbahor, but they got some good luck in the latter stages of that match as another own goal in that game powered them to victory.

Tuesday will be their first appearance in the quarter-finals of this tournament since the 2018-19 campaign, while they have not made it beyond the last eight since 2011-12.

The only defeat for Marcelo Gallardo's men at this tournament this season occurred away from home in the group stage (2-0 versus Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya).

This side have not lost their opening match of a two-leg knockout tie since suffering a 2-0 defeat at this stage of the 2014 Champions League campaign against Al-Ain, losing out to them 5-1 on aggregate.

After failing to concede a single goal in their first four matches played last month, Al Ittihad have allowed a goal or more in three consecutive contests.

Repeating as Saudi Pro League champions is already out of sight for Nadi Al-Sha'ab, as they currently sit fifth with 37 points, 25 fewer than Al-Hilal with only eight domestic contests remaining.

Al-Hilal AFC Champions League form:

Al-Hilal form (all competitions):

Al Ittihad AFC Champions League form:

Al Ittihad form (all competitions):

Team News

Al Hilal's Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on December 15, 2023© Reuters

Neymar remains unavailable for Al-Hilal, as the Brazilian is still recovering from a cruciate ligament tear which he suffered in October.

We saw one newcomer in their starting 11 from the first to the second leg of their tie with Sepahan as Michael came into the fold for their home fixture in place of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored in both of their last 16 fixtures and is second in goals at this tournament with seven, one fewer than Cryzan, while Ruben Neves and Salem Al-Dawsari also netted in their 3-1 leg two triumph.

Ahmed Bamsaud, Ahmed Sharahili and Abdullah Al-Jadaani are all dealing with cruciate ligament tears for Al Ittihad, while Luiz Felipe is recovering from a muscle tear.

From leg one to two of their tie with Navbahor, there were three changes made to their starting 11 as Saad Al Mousa, Ahmed Al-Ghamdi and Karim Benzema replaced Madallah Al-Olayan, Marwan Al-Sahafi and Romarinho.

An own-goal from Benzema put them behind in their second leg versus Navbahor after 25 minutes, though Abderrazak Hamdallah levelled the tie in first-half injury time before an own-goal courtesy of Toma Tabatadze in the second half enabled them to advance.

Al-Hilal possible starting lineup:
Bono; Abdulhamid, Al-Tambakti, Al-Bulaihi, N. Al-Dawsari; Neves, Kanno; Al-Faraj, Malcom, S. Al-Dawsari; Mitrovic

Al Ittihad possible starting lineup:
Al-Mayouf; Al-Sqoor, Hawsawi, Hegazi, Kadesh; Kante, Fabinho; F. Al-Ghamdi, Al-Sahafi; Hamdallah, Benzema

SM words green background

We say: Al-Hilal 2-0 Al Ittihad

Al-Hilal are showing no signs of slowing down, and we do not see that stopping on Tuesday against a side in Al Ittihad who have been inconsistent defensively, with players and coaches struggling to get along.

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

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Al-Hilal's Ruben Neves pictured on August 19, 2023
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