Al Nassr vs Zob Ahan
Competition: AFC Champions League
Date: 11 March 2019
Kick-off: 16:45 CET
Were Al Nassr good enough to win the game at Al Wasl last week? No. Did they… deserve to lose (1-0)? Definitely not. They had at least as many chances to score as the hosts, even a header on the post late in the first half, but they paid for an inexplicable refereeing mistake around the 60th minute. An Al Wasl player went down inside Al Nassr’s box, and the Australian referee was so sure that it was a penalty, that he didn’t hesitate for a moment. There was no penalty, and actually it was so “anything BUT a penalty”, that… makes you wonder how could the referee be THAT sure so as not to hesitate at all. Football fans in Asia love their conspiracy theories, mostly that certain Arab countries/clubs “have their way” with referees, this is 2019, it’s hard to believe that in a top international competition “weird” things may be happening between club officials and referees, but… then you look at the penalty that cost Al Nassr a draw last week at Al Wasl, and you are left wondering… On Friday, they beat Al Ittifaq 3-2 at home, despite going 0-2 down in the 56th minute (their visitors were down to 10 men since the 45th minute). They sit second in the table of Saudi Arabia’s championship, four points behind leaders Al Hilal.
Zob Ahan were considered big favorites to beat Al Zawraa at home last week, on their AFC Champions League group stage debut, but I had serious doubts, and suggested the Iraqis’ double chance, at 2.22. Zob Ahan were unlucky not to take the lead in the first half, they found Al Zawraa’s goalkeeper on an awesome day, but things changed in the second half, it was the visitors who missed the best chances to score, so that final 0-0 wasn’t the worst result for Zob Ahan. On Thursday they won away from home, in their national championship, a team (Padideh Khorasan) with more than double their points(!), sort of proving that they shouldn’t be sitting just 13th(!) in the table. It should be mentioned that they have two games in hand. Even if they make perfect use of those two matches though, they won’t climb up higher than 6th. All in all, it has been a very disappointing – domestically – season for Zob Ahan.
Previous five matches:
Al Nassr vs Al Ittifaq 3-2
Al Wasl vs Al Nassr 1-0
Al Shabab vs Al Nassr 0-1
Al Nassr vs Al Feiha 1-0
Al Nassr vs AGMK 4-0
Padideh Khorasan vs Zob Ahan 0-1
Zob Ahan vs Al Zawraa 0-0
Zob Ahan vs Machine Sazi 0-0
Esteghlal vs Zob Ahan 3-0
Al Gharafa vs Zob Ahan 2-3
Al Nassr’s next game is at Al Wahda, on Saturday (Saudi Arabia championship). Same day, Zob Ahan will be hosting Esteghlal Khuzestan (Iran championship).
Al Nassr vs Zob Ahan: Head to head Stats
Al Nassr “hosted” Zob Ahan in 2016, but that game, just like this one, was held in neutral Dubai. Zob Ahan won 0-3 back then. Generally, these two have faced each other three times in the past, and the Iranians have won all three times.
Al Nassr vs Zob Ahan: Prediction
Do know that the game is not being held in Saudi Arabia, but in the UAE (Dubai), because of reasons that have nothing to do with football.
Al Nassr vs Zob Ahan: Betting Tips
Even in neutral Dubai, I expect “hosts” Al Nassr to earn their first three points in this group campaign. Their win pays 1.72, not fantastic, but… decent enough, I reckon, given that this is a tricky game, held at a neutral venue.