Preview MD1 - Group D: Al Nassr (KSA) vs Al Sadd SC (QAT)
Riyadh: Tuesday’s fixtures in the 2020 AFC Champions League Matchday One conclude with a heavyweight clash between Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr and Qatar’s Al Sadd at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.
The game is a repeat of last year’s quarter-final match-up, which saw Al Nassr bag a 2-1 win at home, but it was eventually Al Sadd who progressed after an emphatic 3-1 response in Doha in the second leg.
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Reigning Saudi Pro League champions Al Nassr have been suffering a rough patch in recent weeks, winning just one of their last four home games in the league, but Rui Vitoria’s men would rather point at the big picture which speaks of progress as they make it two consecutive AFC Champions League appearances for just the second time in their history after 2015 and 2016.
The Riyadh-based club have opted for consistency, retaining the same four-man foreign contingent from last season, led by the Saudi Pro League’s top goalscorer Abderazzak Hamdallah. In midfield, Brazilian Giuliano had a strong continental campaign last season, finishing as the side’s top scorer with six. Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones fills the AFC Player spot for coach Vitoria’s side.
For Al Sadd, two consecutive semi-finals in 2018 and 2019 are evidence that the 2011 AFC Champions League winners remain continental giants. This was also achieved while managing a complete change in their playing style since Xavi swapped the captain’s armband for the managerial hotseat, replacing Jesualdo Ferreira nearly 12 months ago.
In terms of personnel, the change has been minimal, with Baghdad Bounedjah continuing to bag goals for fun. The Algerian international has 13 from 14 in the Qatar Stars League this season. Nam Tae-hee shares the creative duties with Akram Afif while balance and steel are provided by Spanish veteran Gabi.
Tuesday’s encounter marks the fifth time the two sides have met in the competition, and the last time they were pitted together in the group stage was in 2011, both games ended in draws and Al Sadd went on to lift the trophy that year.
Al Nassr (KSA) v Al Sadd SC (QAT)
Venue: Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: February 11, 18:15 (UTC+3)
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