The Saudi Pro League’s Matchday 14 commences with Al Ettifaq facing Al Ittihad at the Abdullah Al-Dabal Stadium on Friday evening.
Currently, the hosts sit in seventh place with 22 points, while the visitors are two positions above them, holding a two-point advantage after 13 matches.
Al Ettifaq, under Steven Gerrard, commenced the 2023-24 season strongly, winning five and drawing one of their initial six games.
However, their momentum has waned lately, accumulating only one victory in their last seven matches across competitions.
They recently had back-to-back goalless draws in the league and faced elimination from the King’s Cup by Al Nassr.
Despite their recent struggles, Al Ettifaq holds a solid home record, having suffered only one defeat in seven home matches this season.
However, they’ve struggled against Al Ittihad in recent encounters, failing to secure a victory in their last four meetings since January 2021.
Al Ittihad, the defending champions, began the league with a mixed bag of results and made a managerial change by replacing Nuno Espirito Santo with Marcelo Gallardo, the former successful River Plate coach.
Gallardo aims to lift Al Ittihad after a 4-2 win under interim manager Hassan Khalifa in their last league game.
The visitors have a solid away record this season, with four wins, two draws, and just one loss in seven games.
For Al Ettifaq, Jordan Henderson is set to return in midfield, while Hamed Al Ghamdi might be positioned in a forward role alongside Mohammed Al Kuwaykibi and Demarai Gray.
Al Ittihad will miss Abdullah Al-Jadani and Aseel Abed due to injuries, and N’Golo Kante, Saleh Al Amri, and Sultan Al-Farhan are doubtful.
Karim Benzema, who scored a hat-trick in the last match, is likely to lead the attack with Romarinho and Igor Coronado.
Khateeb, Hendry, Tisserand, Abdulrahman;
Henderson, Mahzari, Wijnaldum;
Gray, Al Ghamdi, Al Kuwaykibi
Al-Shanqeeti, Kadesh, Felipe, Hawsawi;
Al-Olayan, Al-Ghamdi, Fabinho;
Romarinho, Benzema, Coronado
Prediction: Al Ettifaq 1-2 Al Ittihad
Despite Al Ettifaq’s need for a win, they might find it challenging against Al Ittihad, who have previously secured victories at this venue.
Expecting a tightly contested match, we anticipate Al Ittihad to clinch victory by the final whistle.