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Saudi Pro League | Gameweek 33
May 23, 2024 at 7pm UK
Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium

Al Riyadh
2 - 2

Gray (26'), Saleh (45+1')
N'Dong (85')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Otavio (15'), Al Nemer (90+7')
Telles (45+10'), Telles (50')
Laporte (63')

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

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Saudi Pro League clash between Al Riyadh and Al-Nassr, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Al Riyadh will be hoping to stay out of the relegation zone in the Saudi Pro League when they face cross-town powerhouse Al-Nassr at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium on Thursday evening.

The hosts are currently just two points above the dreaded dotted line heading into the penultimate match of the 2023-24 league season, while the visitors are set to end a second consecutive season as runners-up.

Match preview

Al Nassr's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring their second goal with Otavio and Abdulrahman Ghareeb on April 19, 2024© Reuters

While the title winners may already be decided, the race for top-flight survival is far from over, with Al Riyadh, Al Tai, Al Akhdoud and Abha all still battling to avoid joining Al Hazem in heading to the Saudi First Division League next term.

RIY, who are level on 31 points with Al Tai, currently sit atop that list owing to their marginally better goal difference, but they are far from safe, and a defeat here could see them head into the final week of competition in the bottom three depending on results elsewhere.

Odair Hellmann's side passed up a glorious opportunity to gain some breathing room last week when they conceded a last-minute goal to basement club Al Hazem, which saw them finish 1-1, leaving them just two points above the drop.

Despite their struggles this season, Al Riyadh are clearly determined not to go down with a fight. They are unbeaten in their last four games (W1 D3 L0), which is their longest run without defeat in the league this season and also pulled off an against-the-odds victory over Al Ahli during that stretch.

However, they now face the star-studded lineup of Al-Nassr, who beat them by a comfortable 4-1 scoreline earlier in the season. On paper, the hosts are likely to struggle here, and all indicators suggest that their top-flight fate will go down to their final match of the season when they face Al Khaleej.

Meanwhile, Al-Nassr come into this match following another titanic battle against arch-rivals Al-Hilal last week, which ended level after a controversial VAR decision in the 10th minute of stoppage time at the end of the match.

Al-Alami held a one-goal lead for the entire 90 and looked to be on their way to claiming what would have been a morale-boosting victory against the Blue Waves. However, in the dying moments, VAR called Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez to review an alleged foul by Sadio Mane in the Nassr penalty area.

After a lengthy review, and despite the contact looking as though it was outside the box, Mane was adjudged to have fouled Saud Abdulhamid in the area, resulting in a penalty which Aleksandar Mitrovic stuck away with aplomb to earn his side a share of the spoils.

That result brought an end to the Knights of Najd's five-match winning streak across all competitions and was the first points they had dropped at home since losing to Al Raed at the start of March.

Al Nassr will meet Al Hilal again in the King's Cup final at the end of the month, where Cristiano Ronaldo and his team will aim to prevent their city rivals from securing the domestic treble, with the Blue Waves having already secured the league and the Super Cup titles.

Al Riyadh Saudi Pro League form:

Al-Nassr Saudi Pro League form:

Team News

Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo is shown a red card by referee Mohammed Al Hoaish after clashing with Al Hilal's Ali Al Bulayhi on April 9, 2024© Reuters

Al Riyadh will be without the services of three players due to injury, including their influential attacking midfielder Knowledge Musona, who has contributed to six goals this term, including scoring four himself and setting up a further two.

Saleh Al-Abbas and Alin Tosca are ruled out with a muscle injury and tendon rupture, respectively, and both players are likely to remain sidelined for the final two games of the season.

Ronaldo is currently one goal shy of equalling Abderrazak Hamdallah's record of scoring 34 league goals in a single SPL season, and he will fancy his chances here against one of the worst defences in the league.

However, the Portuguese superstar will have to do so without the services of Talisca, Mohammed Maran and Abdulrahman Ghareeb, all of whom are ruled out through injury.

David Ospina, who has been heavily linked with a move away from the Middle East in the offseason, will continue in goal with Nawaf Al-Aqidi still suspended and Waleed Abdullah having only just returned from injury.

Al Riyadh possible starting lineup:
Campana; Ali Alnwaiqi; Al-Shuwayyi, Al Shirekh, Al-Khaibari; Al-Shehri, Toure, Al Rashidi, Al-Harajin; Ndong, Gray

Al-Nassr possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Al Ghanam, Alawjami, Laporte, Telles; Al-Khaibari, Yahya, Otavio, Brozovic, Mane; Ronaldo

SM words green background

We say: Al Riyadh 1-3 Al-Nassr

The hosts have shown over the last few weeks that they are not willing to return to the second tier without a fight, but it is difficult to see them take anything from this match against the Riyadh giants.

Al Nassr will need to maintain momentum until the King's Cup final at the end of the month, and we feel they will secure a comfortable victory in this one.

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

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Tables header RHS
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2 00000000
3Al Ettifaq00000000
4Al Fateh00000000
5Al Fayha00000000
6Al Ittihad00000000
7Al Khaleej00000000
8Al Okhdood00000000
9Al Quadisiya00000000
10Al RaedAl Raed00000000
11Al Riyadh00000000
12Al ShababAl Shabab00000000
13Al WahdaAl Wahda00000000

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