Breaking down the absorbing title race as Roshn Saudi League resumes after the international break
A gripping title fight continues on Saturday when Roshn Saudi League restarts after the international break.
A quartet of teams are in contention for Saudi Arabia’s top-flight crown, with defending champions Al Hilal – who meet promoted Al Khaleej this weekend in a rearranged matchweek 16 fixture – still in the reckoning along with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr, Al Ittihad and Al Shabab.
These clubs are separated by 11 points after 21 games, although fourth-placed Al Hilal have two games in hand which could whittle that down to five points and potentially place them third if they can win both. Leaders Al Ittihad have Al Nassr in hot pursuit just one point behind and with some crunch clashes to come over the final nine rounds, there is potential for all four to switch places as well as go potentially right to the wire.
We take a look at all four clubs, ahead of what promises to be an incredible end to 2022/23.
Led by Abderrazak Hamdallah’s Roshn Saudi League leading tally of 15 goals, Nuno Santo’s side currently find themselves out in front.
They picked up a precious 1-0 win over Al Nassr earlier this month to open up their narrow advantage. Ronaldo has rocketed up the scoring charts, but Hamdallah’s goals are usually a fairly strong guarantee of success.
Al Ittihad, however, have not simply out-scored their opponents – they are on an 10-game unbeaten run which will be tested by Al Shabab and Al Hilal before the season ends. Plus, they’ve conceded only seven goals in 21 matches and Brazil goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe, on 14, is one clean sheet away from breaking the Pro League’s record for a season.
Currently enjoying a rich burst of form from superstar signing Ronaldo, the Portugal superstar’s nine goals from eight games has helped Rudi Garcia’s men to be breathing down Al Ittihad’s neck, despite that narrow defeat a few weeks ago.
Talisca leads the team for goals with 14, just one shy of Hamdallah’s leading figure.
Without a league title since 2018/19, they will be keen to make good on this opportunity and become only the second team to reach double figures after Al Hilal, who they still have to face along with Al Shabab before the end of the campaign.
Al Shabab sit inside the top three, although if Al Hilal pick up a full six points from their two games in hand this would bump Vicente Moreno’s side down to fourth, although there would just be one point in it.
Al Shabab are very interesting given that they and Al Hilal are the only sides who will face all three of their title rivals in the coming months and they have a reliable source of goals in Carlos Jr – if fit – too, who is only three behind leading scorer Hamdallah.
The chase is on for Ramon Diaz’s men as they set out to win their games in hand, before potentially striking a blow to Al Shabab’s title hopes this Friday as they look to get back in the reckoning through Odion Ighalo’s 12 goals and counting.
They are titleholders and have a two-legged AFC Champions League final to think of, but should not be considered any lesser favorites because they currently have two games in hand.
Win those and the table will look very different ahead of decisive clashes with Al Nassr and Al Ittihad.