Ighalo, Ronaldo, Al Faraj and Talisca lead long list of stars who may define unmissable Riyadh Derby between Al Hilal and Al Nassr in Roshn Saudi League
Here it is again, one of the biggest games in Asian football.
But, Tuesday’s Riyadh Derby between Al Nassr and Al Hilal is more crucial than most.
Al Nassr have just parted ways with coach Rudi Garcia and need a win to keep pace with Roshn Saudi League leaders Al Ittihad, who currently sit three points clear with just seven games remaining. This is a delicate stage of the season as Al Hilal also need victory if there is to be any chance of successfully defending its top-flight title.
Both teams have players who could play a vital role in deciding which corner of Riyadh the points, and the bragging rights, end up on Tuesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo is an obvious choice, for obvious reasons. Al Nassr’s megastar has risen to such occasions countless times over his illustrious career.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has played key roles in UEFA Champions League finals and some of the biggest games in Europe’s biggest leagues.
Since signing at the end of December, he has scored 11 league goals in just 10 games. If he shines, then Al Hilal could be in trouble.
And even if he doesn’t then there is also Talisca. The Brazilian has topped the goal-scoring charts for much of the season through injury and suspension slowed his momentum somewhat, but he can score when defences least expect it to happen.
It’s not like Al Hilal have no stars of their own. The likes of Salman Al Faraj and Salem Al Dawsari have played a huge part in Al Hilal’s success in recent years, but the talented duo have been struggling with injuries.
At least the champions have Odion Ighalo in fine form. With nine goals so far this calendar year, he has risen to become joint top scorer.
At the moment, last season’s top scorer is red hot and given a chance in and around the area, a goal is the likely outcome.
Nawaf Al Aqidi may have something to say about that. Since the season-ending injury suffered by David Ospina in January, Al Aqidi has stepped up to the plate and impressed.
With Al Hilal centre-back Ali Al Bulaihi also battling injuries, Jang Hyun-soo is going to be hugely important in trying to deal with the threat of Ronaldo and Talisca.
The former South Korea captain has ample experience in facing some of the best attackers in the world and will need every minute of that.
Given the busy schedule that Al Hilal have had in recent weeks with games every three days in April, it is no surprise that coach Ramon Diaz has been trying to rotate his players in a bid to keep them fresh.
It could be that the likes of Abdullah Al Hamdan, Saleh Al Shehri or Michael, who have been in and out of the starting line-up all season, step in when selected to make the difference and grab the headlines from the likes of Ronaldo.
One thing is for sure, it is going to be a fascinating clash and with the talent on offer, there are potential match-winners everywhere you look.
WHEN: 22:00 KSA; Tuesday, April 18, 2023
WHERE: King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh