Al Hilal vs Al Ain
Competition: AFC Champions League
Date: 13 February 2018
Kick-off: 18:25 CET
Al Hilal touched the trophy last season, but Urawa Reds somehow managed to win it, drawing 1-1 in Saudi Arabia, and beating Al Hilal 1-0 in the return leg in Saitama. The Riyadh club won the championship in Saudi Arabia, won the domestic Cup as well, being the undisputed “bosses” in the country’s football scene. Six game weeks before the end of the current championship campaign, they are leading, having second-placed Al Ahli two points behind them. Last Thursday they drew 2-2 at home to Al Nassr, equalising twice, second time in the 88th minute, to salvage at least a point. This is their 14th appearance in the AFC CL. No other team, west and east region combined, have more than them. The target is obvious; not just make it through the group stage, but reach the final, and win what Urawa Reds… snatched from them last season.
This could be called the biggest game of the first game week of the AFC Champions League group stage, in the sense that these two teams, Al Hilal and Al Ain, are the ones with the most appearances in the competition, 14 and 13 respectively. Al Sadd have 13 as well. Al Ain had to go through a whole… adventure to be in the group stage. They finished fourth in last season’s championship in the UAE, so they shouldn’t have won an AFC CL ticket. They did, because third-placed Al Ahli merged with Al Shabab and Dubai, and according to AFC rules they were ineligible to compete. Al Ain though, had to… fight to get their licence approved by the AFC. They finally succeeded, they hosted Malkiya from Bahrain in the playoffs, beat them 2-0, and that’s how they made it to the group stage. Six game weeks before the end of the ongoing championship campaign in the UAE, they are leading, two points ahead of second-placed Al Wahda. Last Thursday they beat Emirates 3-0 at home. Last season, they reached the quarterfinals of the AFC CL, where they got eliminated by Al Hilal, drawing 0-0 at home, but losing 3-0 in the return leg.
Previous five matches:
Al Hilal vs Al Nassr 2-2
Al Batin vs Al Hilal 1-5
Al Hilal vs Al Raed 2-1
Al Quadisiya vs Al Hilal 1-0
Al Hilal vs Al Ittihad 1-1
Al Ain vs Emirates 3-0
Al Ain vs Ajman 7-0
Al Ain vs Malkiya 2-0
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai vs Al Ain 1-1
Al Ain vs Hatta 6-2
Al Hilal’s next game is at Al Shabab on Friday (Saudi Arabia championship). Same day, Al Ain will be visiting Al Wahda (UAE League Cup).
Al Hilal vs Al Ain: Head to head Stats
Al Hilal have hosted Al Ain four times before, starting in 2006, They have four wins, and total goals 10-1(!).
Al Hilal vs Al Ain: Prediction
I expect Al Hilal to win, despite their average performance in their last game in Saudi Arabia’s championship. Al Ain have kept a clean sheet in three consecutive games in the UAE’s championship, but I seriously doubt they’ll replicate that defensive form in Saudi Arabia.
Al Hilal vs Al Ain: Betting Tips
Al Hilal’s win pays 2.23, while the “over 2.5 goals” sits at 1.80 betting odds. Combining those two, you get to hope for an excellent 3.00.
More AFC Champions League betting tips and match previews:
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- Tractor Sazi vs Al Ahli Jeddah
- Al-Duhail vs Zob Ahan
- Al Jazira vs Al Gharafa
- Melbourne Victory vs Ulsan Hyundai
- Kawasaki Frontale vs Shanghai SIPG
- Jeonbuk Motors vs Kashiwa Reysol
- Tianjin Quanjian vs Kitchee
- Persepolis vs Nasaf Qarshi
- Al Wasl vs Al Sadd
- Al Rayyan vs Esteghlal
- Sydney FC vs Suwon Bluewings
- Guangzhou Evergrande vs Buriram United
- Kashima Antlers vs Shanghai Shenhua
- Jeju United vs Cerezo Osaka