Al Hilal vs Urawa Reds
Competition: AFC Champions League
Date: 18 November 2017
Kick-off: 17:15 CET
If there is one team that really deserves to be in the AFC Champions League final, that’s Al Hilal. Ramon Diaz’s men remain undefeated after 12 matches in the competition this season. They have seven wins and five draws, but at least two of those draws (in the semifinals and the quarterfinals) were like wins, as they were earned away from home. Their 4-0 win over Persepolis in the semis and their 3-0 triumph over Al Ain in the quarterfinals speak for themselves, about the strength of the Saudi Arabian side. Al Hilal have already won the competition twice, they have reached the final on three more occasions (last time was in 2010), and if they win it this year as well they will… make history, as they will become only the second club to have lifted the prestigious trophy three times (Pohang Steelers being the other one). They haven’t played since November 1, when they drew 1-1 at home to Al Shabab, in Saudi Arabia’s championship. Nine matches into the season, they are sharing the top of the table with Al Ahli, but they have a game in hand.
Al Hilal were one of the favourites to reach the final, but Urawa Reds… not really. The Chinese clubs were tipped as mega favourites to represent east Asia in the final, but Urawa made the surprise in the semis, eliminating Shanghai SIPG (draw in China, win back home). Their record in the competition this season is nowhere near as impressive as Al Hilal’s but as was proven in the semis, records don’t really matter in home and away matches, where it all comes down to little details. Urawa have won the AFC Champions League title once before, in 2007, in the one and only time they reached the final. Their last game was on November 5, at Kashima Antlers. They lost 1-0, another disappointing result, in a J-League campaign which hasn’t been successful for them. They are sitting just 7th in the table.
Previous 5 matches:
Al Hilal vs Al Shabab 1-1
Al Nassr vs Al Hilal 1-2
Al Hilal vs Al Batin 2-1
Persepolis vs Al Hilal 2-2
Al Hilal vs Al Quadisiya 2-1
Kashima Antlers vs Urawa Reds 1-0
Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Urawa Reds 0-1
Urawa Reds vs Gamba Osaka 3-3
Urawa Reds vs Shanghai SIPG 1-0
Urawa Reds vs Vissel Kobe 1-1
Al Hilal and Urawa Reds are meeting again next week, in the return leg, which is the next game for both teams.
Al Hilal vs Urawa Reds: Head to head Stats
Al Hilal have never faced a team from Japan before. Same for Urawa, they have never played against a team from Saudi Arabia in the past.
Al Hilal vs Urawa Reds: Prediction
Leaving aside which of the two teams will end up winning the title, focusing on this first leg, I’m backing Al Hilal not just to win, but to do so without conceding.
Al Hilal vs Urawa Reds: Betting Tips
A simple Al Hilal win pays 2.00. Combined with a clean sheet, this goes up to a much-much better 3.25.