Al Ain vs Esteghlal
Competition: AFC Champions League
Date: 29 May 2017
Kick-off: 20:45 CET
Al Ain had scored two goals or more in their nine previous games before going to Tehran last week. They failed to score even once, they gave away a penalty in added time, they lost 1-0, and now have to be doubly cautious, since conceding a goal would oblige them to score three times. Center-back Saeed Juma Hassan got sent-off in that game, and is obviously unavailable. Coach Zoran Mamic is under pressure, there were lots of reports according to which he is very close to losing his job, but the board of directors issued a statement a couple of days ago, backing Mamic publicly, and expressing their belief and trust in his work.
Kaveh Rezaei didn’t miss the golden chance he was presented with in added time last week, he took Esteghlal’s penalty, sent it in, and that 1-0 may look poor but in ties like this can make a huge difference. Judging by what they have been saying after that first leg at home, Esteghlal are not going to sit back and… park the bus, they will look for at least one goal, which would practically guarantee them a ticket to the quarterfinals. Last time Esteghlal conceded two goals was on February 20, when they lost 2-1 at Dudai’s Al Ahli. To find a game that they conceded three goals, someone has to go back to December(!). Attacking midfielder Farshid Ismaelii got sent off last week, and is unavailable.
Al Ain vs Esteghlal: Head-to-head Stats
Al Ain have hosted Esteghlal once before, it was in 2013, an AFC Champions League group game, and actually the Iranian side won 1-0.
Al Ain vs Esteghlal: Prediction
Playing at home, and having their back against the wall, I expect Al Ain to respond, play like… Al Ain, which they did not do last week, and win this game. Qualify? As well. Away from home, Esteghlal lose a lot of their strength. Esteghlal have conceded in their last seven games away from home, and most of those games (if not all) were against teams far less strong than Al Ain.
Al Ain vs Esteghlal: Tips
Al Ain’s win pays 1.61, obviously not that tempting. Despite the fact that the first game between these two had just one goal, I’m backing the hosts to win in a match that this time will have at least three goals.