Al Raed and Al Ittihad will lock horns on Matchday 1 of the Saudi Pro League. This season, the hosts will be looking to improve on their 10th-place result from the previous campaign. They will have a tough test in their opening game against Al Ittihad, who will start their title defense.
Preview (Al Raed vs Al Ittihad)
Al-Raed fell backward past season, moving up just three spots from their seventh place in the 2021–22 campaign. They scored two fewer points. With nine victories, seven ties, and 14 defeats, Marius Sumudica’s team finished with 34 points from 30 games. They also had the fourth-highest goal-conceding percentage with 49 goals allowed overall. The hosts had a disappointing season overall. They went winless in their final three games while losing one and drawing two others. They also only managed one victory in their final five league games. Al-Raed had a poor record in this matchup, having lost all seven of their most recent encounters. They only picked up a point from them in their most recent meeting.
Even though winning the game may be a tall order, Sumudica will be hoping for a strong showing from his team to gain some momentum for a favorable matchup against Al-Tai the following week. Despite the fact that this is the first game of the season, they will be optimistic going into the game in front of their home crowd. Al-Ittihad, who had last won the trophy in 2009 when there were only 12 teams in the league, ended a 14-year wait by winning their eighth Pro League championship last season. Al-Ittihad overcame title favorites Al-Nassr by five points while playing for ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo.
In their 30 games, the visitors had 22 victories, six defeats, and gave up just two defeats. However, their most noticeable development came on defense, as they allowed just 13 goals the entire year. It was five fewer than their nearest opponents. They will also be in good shape for matches because they participated in the Arab Club Champions Cup. They advanced to the semi-finals before losing 3-1 to Al-Hilal. In order to prepare for what would be only their second title defense in history, Santo has been very active throughout the summer transfer window, signing several high-profile players, such as Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.
Igor Jovicevic has not made as many headline-grabbing acquisitions as his rivals. He did manage to snag Mamadou Loum from Porto, who will bolster the midfield. Following his transfer from Grasshoppers, Andre Moreira might make his league debut in goal, playing behind fellow newcomer Hammad Al-Jayzani at left-back. Fabinho and N’Golo Kante, Santo’s new midfield pairing, will likely be used to help Benzema at the top of the field.
While Ahmed Hegazy and Aseel Abed are anticipated to miss the game due to injury, Jota, an ex-Celtic player, will also be a contender to start on the left wing. The league winners appear prepared to defend their championship after bringing in a number of elite players over the summer break, beginning with a victory in this one. We do not expect the hosts to score as they are unlikely to generate many clear-cut opportunities.
Al Raed 0 – 2 Al Ittihad
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