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Saudi Pro League | Gameweek 16
Dec 7, 2023 at 6pm UK
Shabab Al Ahli Stadium
Al Shabab
0 - 0
Al Ettifaq

Al-Monassar (7'), Santos (12')
Banega (66'), Cuellar (85')
FT

Gray (85')

Preview: Al Shabab vs. Al Ettifaq - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Aiming to end a four-match league winless run, Al Ettifaq will travel to Riyadh to take on Al Shabab on Thursday.

The visitors sit seventh in the Saudi Pro League table after 15 games as a result of their dip in form, while their hosts are seven points worse off in twelfth spot having also not managed a victory in their last three attempts.


Match preview

Al Shabab's coach Igor Biscan reacts on November 3, 2023© Reuters

Al Shabab return to action in Riyadh on Thursday hoping to arrest a dip in their form in what has been a disappointing campaign on the whole thus far, with the White Lion currently sat 12th in the Saudi Pro League table with 16 points from their first 15 outings.

In those games, they have suffered seven defeats while only managing four victories, with the most recent of those coming at home to defending champions Al-Ittihad at the beginning of November as Carlos Junior netted the only goal of the game in the opening 15 minutes.

Igor Biscan's side have been unable to build on that impressive result since, though, having managed just one more point in their last three outings, firstly falling to a 2-1 defeat away at Al Raed in their final game before the international break last month.

They then returned to action away at high-flying Al-Ahli and took a creditable point from a goalless stalemate, only to again fall short in last Saturday's meeting with Al-Taawoun, despite going ahead through Yannick Carrasco in the first half, as Joao Pedro netted a quickfire brace around the hour mark to turn the game on its head and snatch all three points for the visitors in a 2-1 win.

Such a result saw Al Shabab drop to 12th spot in the Saudi top flight, while only leading 13th-placed Al-Riyadh on goal difference, and with just a three-point lead over the relegation zone after 15 rounds of fixtures, they will be desperate to establish an improved run to begin climbing the table, starting with a victory on home turf on Thursday.

Al Ettifaq coach Steven Gerrard on November 4, 2023© Reuters

They meet an Al Ettifaq side who are also hoping to bounce back to winning ways, having faltered in recent weeks following a strong start to the campaign under the new management of Steven Gerrard.

After 11 matches in the top flight, the Knight of Ad-Dahna sat in a strong position on 20 points having managed six victories while only suffering three defeats, but they have been unable to add any further notches to the wins column in four attempts since.

They have, however, only lost once in that time too, initially being held to goalless stalemates by Al Raed and Al Fayha before returning from the break with a pleasing point from a 1-1 draw at home to Al-Ittihad, having initially gone ahead through Georginio Wijnaldum.

Aiming to build on that more positive result, Gerrard's men most recently travelled to take on Al Okhdood on Saturday, but they had to come away empty-handed as Andrei Burca netted the only goal 17 minutes from time to condemn the visitors to a fourth league defeat of the campaign.

Having now dropped to seventh spot, with a five-point gap to the top five and a seven-point gap to the top three, Al Ettifaq will be keen to put their brief slump behind them on Thursday and bounce back with an eighth Saudi Pro League win of the term to improve their standing in the top half.

Al Shabab Saudi Pro League form:

Al Ettifaq Saudi Pro League form:


Team News

Al Ettifaq's Jordan Henderson celebrates after the match on September 21, 2023© Reuters

Igor Biscan should only make minimal changes to his Al Shabab starting XI from the weekend, although Habib Diallo may come in to lead the line from the outset again, having settled for a substitute appearance last time out with Abdullah Radif preferred up front in their 4-2-3-1 shape.

Former Atletico Madrid man Yannick Carrasco is arguably their key man in attack, having notched up six goals alongside three assists in 11 appearances across all competitions for the White Lion this term, while Argentinian veteran Ever Banega will also play a key role in a supporting trio behind the lone striker.

Elsewhere, Gustavo Cuellar is a key man in the engine room and should again be joined by Hussain Al-Qahtani, while Morocco international Romain Saiss will hope to return at the heart of a back four.

Al Ettifaq will likely remain without star forward Moussa Dembele, who has missed their last six league outings after hitting seven goals in the first eight and nine in nine appearances in all competitions so far this term, meaning Robin Quaison should continue to lead the line in a 3-4-3 shape.

He will likely be joined in a front three by Demarai Gray and former Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum, who has chipped in with six goals in his 12 appearances so far this season following a summer arrival from Paris Saint-Germain.

Behind them, former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will continue to play a key role in the engine room, while Abdullah Al-Khateeb, Marcel Tisserand and Jack Hendry should line up in an unchanged back three.


Al Shabab possible starting lineup:
Kim; Al Saqour, Saiss, Santos, Al-Yami; Cuellar, Al-Qahtani; Junior, Banega, Carrasco; Diallo

Al Ettifaq possible starting lineup:
Victor; Hendry, Tisserand, Al-Khateeb; Yousef, Henderson, Hazazi, Al Shamrani; Wijnaldum, Quaison, Gray


SM words green background

We say: Al Shabab 1-1 Al Ettifaq

Both sides do boast plenty of quality and will fight hard to return to winning ways on Thursday.

With Dembele's continued absence certainly hurting the visitors, we do not see Gerrard's men coming out on top on their travels and instead see a low-scoring draw as the most likely outcome in Riyadh.


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


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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Game History

How you voted: Al Shabab vs Al Ettifaq

Al Shabab
45.0%
Draw
35.0%
Al Ettifaq
20.0%
20
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rhs 2.0
Today's games header
Tables header RHS
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Al-HilalAl-Hilal20182062105256
2Al-Nassr20161357243349
3Al-AhliAl-Ahli20124443222140
4Al-TaawounAl-Taawoun21115536241238
5Al Ittihad20104639261334
6Damac218763627931
7Al Fateh218673529630
8Al Ettifaq207762422228
9Al WahdaAl Wahda2082103235-326
10Al ShababAl Shabab206682025-524
11Al Okhdood2172121730-1323
12Al Khaleej2064102330-722
13Al Fayha205782232-1022
14Al RaedAl Raed2155112635-920
15Al Riyadh2155111840-2220
16Al Tai2053122140-1918
17Abha2043132353-3015
18Al Hazem2027112050-3013

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