Tractor Sazi vs Al Ahli Jeddah
Competition: AFC Champions League
Date: 12 February 2018
Kick-off: 16:30 CET
Important detail: the game is not held in Iran, but in neutral Oman, as the AFC have decided that just like last season, teams from Iran and Saudi Arabia will not be visiting each other, for reasons that have nothing to do with football, sports in general. Tractor Sazi finished third in last season’s championship in Iran, so they should have gone through playoffs, but Hazfi Cup winners Naft Tehran failed to obtain an AFC licence, so Tractor Sazi took their spot in the group stage (and Zob Ahan were given the chance to be in the playoffs, and, after their win there, in the group stage). Tractor Sazi have won their last two championship matches, but this season has been nothing like the previous one. With seven games left, they are sitting just 10th in the table, they have already gotten eliminated from the Hazfi Cup, so they will not be playing AFC CL football in 2019. In their previous AFC CL appearance, two years ago, they finished first in their group, but Al Nasr eliminated them in the round of 16.
As runners-up in last season’s Saudi Arabia championship, Al Ahli made it directly to the group stage of the AFC Champions League. Last Thursday they beat Al Faisaly 2-1 at home, closing the gap on leaders Al Hilal to just two points. Six matches are left in Saudi Arabia’s championship, and the title will be decided between these two, as third-placed Al Nassr are 10 whole points behind Al Ahli. The Jeddah side have been great offensively, they have scored 10 more goals than leaders Al Hilal, but their Riyadh opponents have looked more solid defensively, having the edge thus far. This is Al Ahli’s 10th appearance in the AFC CL. Last season they made it through the group stage, they eliminated Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (as they are now called) in the round of 16, they even earned a 2-2 draw against Persepolis as visitors (the game was held at a neutral venue), but lost 3-1 as hosts (against at a neutral venue) in the return leg.
Previous five matches:
Tractor Sazi vs Gostaresh Foolad Tabriz 2-1
Padideh Khorasan vs Tractor Sazi 0-3
Siah Jamegan vs Tractor Sazi 0-0
Tractor Sazi vs Saipa 1-2
Naft Tehran vs Tractor Sazi 2-0
Al Ahli Jeddah vs Al Faisaly 2-1
Al Ittihad vs Al Ahli Jeddah 0-0
Al Ahli Jeddah vs Al Shabab 3-2
Al Ahli Jeddah vs Al Orubah 6-0
Al Ahli Jeddah vs Al Batin 5-0
Tractor Sazi’s next game is at Al Gharafa, next Monday (AFC Champions League). Al Ahli are visiting Al Feiha on Friday (Saudi Arabia championship).
Tractor Sazi vs Al Ahli Jeddah: Head to head Stats
Tractor Sazi have hosted Al Ahli once before, in 2015. That AFC Champions League group stage game ended in a 2-2 draw, and did take place in Tabriz, Tractor Sazi’s real home. Back then, teams from Iran and Saudi Arabia still visited each other. This game is held in neutral Oman.
Tractor Sazi vs Al Ahli Jeddah: Prediction
With the game taking place in neutral Oman, I like the chances of Al Ahli picking up all three points.
Tractor Sazi vs Al Ahli Jeddah: Betting Tips
Al Ahli’s win pays 2.13. I suggest it not without reservations, but at 2.13, I think it’s worth it. In “draw no bet”, Al Ahli’s victory is at 1.50, if you prefer to… cover your back.