Al Ahli Jeddah vs Zob Ahan
Competition: AFC Champions League
Date: 8 May 2017
Kick-off: 17:40 CET
This is a huge cliché, but in this particular case it does feel like Al Ahli and Zob Ahan are playing not a simple game, but a final. Al Ahli’s… suicidal defeat two weeks ago at Bunyodkor, the first points/win the Tashkent team celebrated in the group stage, has put them in a position that they absolutely must earn at least a draw ‘hosting’ Zob Ahan. ‘Hosting’, not really-really hosting, since the game is being held in neutral Doha, same way the first round Zob Ahan vs Al Ahli game was held in neutral Muscat, because teams from Saudi Arabia and Iran don’t visit each other. So, the fact that the game is taking place at a neutral venue, makes Al Ahli’s mission to earn at least a point considerably more difficult than what it would be if the game took place in Jeddah. That 2-0 at Bunyodkor two weeks ago, is Al Ahli’s only defeat in their last 13 games.
Zob Ahan lost 3-0 at home two weeks ago to Al Ain, throwing to the dustbin the huge… gift Bunyodkor made them by beating Al Ahli. Even a draw though, wouldn’t have been enough for Zob Ahan, since, even if they had eight points before the last group game, they would still need to beat Al Ahli, having lost the first game between them, 2-1. It’s simple; Zob Ahan win, they qualify. Any other result, sees the Jeddah side make it to the last 16. ‘Simple’ to describe, hard to achieve, since the two games Zob Ahan have won so far in the group, were both over Bunyodkor, the group’s weakest side, despite their unexpected win over Al Ahli two weeks ago. Zob Ahan have won five of their last nine matches, but only two in five in their Champions League group, and I repeat that in this game a draw is not enough for them, they need to win.
Al Ahli Jeddah vs Zob Ahan: Head-to-head Stats
Al Ahli beat Zob Ahan 2-1 earlier this season, in what was the first game ever between these two.
Al Ahli Jeddah vs Zob Ahan: Prediction
I expect Al Ahli to get that point they need to secure their presence in the last 16 of the competition, but playing at a neutral venue I have my doubts about them winning.
Al Ahli Jeddah vs Zob Ahan: Tips
Over 2.5 goals is at 1.85, and I like it because most of the games of these two teams have lots of goals, and also an early goal will open the game up. Even if the first goal doesn’t come early, Zob Ahan’s need to win will inevitably lead to risks taken and spaces left open and available for Al Ahli to take advantage of. The fact that the game is being held at a neutral venue makes me find that 1.72 Al Ahli’s win pays even less appealing, so I’m sticking to that 1.85 ‘over 2.5 goals’ comes with.