An introduction to Roshn Saudi League’s rivalries – from all-capital clashes, to the Al Qassim Derby between Al Raed and Al Taawoun
Derby matches excite football fans across the globe – and Roshn Saudi League is no different.
This competition helps cement its position as Asia’s strongest, plus provide intrigue and interest for loyal supporters.
These rivalries stem from both sporting and geographical reasons. Here is the recent history for some of 2022/23’s most notable:
THE RIYADH DERBIES
The Riyadh Derby, as it is widely known, between Al Hilal and Al Nassr pits two of the nation’s most-decorated outfits against each other.
This winter’s addition of Portugal megastar Cristiano Ronaldo by Al Nassr has, also, only added to the excitement.
Full-capacity crowds, impassioned supporters and many of the region’s finest footballers – both domestic and foreign – create a must-watch contest.
Their most-recent meeting in December saw Al Hilal twice take the lead through Nigeria hitman Odion Ighalo and Saudi Arabia magician Salem Al Dawsari, only to be pegged back at a buoyant Mrsool Park by Brazilian forward Talisca and substitute Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s 88th-minute leveler.
But competition is split three ways in the capital.
Argentina metronome Ever Banega’s Al Shabab provide a close match-up for Al Hilal and Al Nassr.
This was witnessed in October’s gripping 1-1 draw with Al Hilal, featuring Ighalo’s saved penalty and immediate leveller from Carlos Jr.
The competitiveness between Al Shabab and Al Nassr was exemplified by the hard-fought nature of January’s goalless draw.
The Saudi Clasico between Al Hilal and Al Ittihad pits the country’s two biggest cities against each other – Riyadh and Jeddah.
Al Ittihad are guided this season by former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur tactician Nuno Espirito Santo. There he has been reunited with Angola winger Helder Costa, plus resident stars such as Brazilian Igor Coronado, former West Bromwich Albion centre-back Ahmed Hegazi and prolific Morocco centre forward Abderrazak Hamdallah.
This contest between the two clubs reached a high point last May when Al Hilal came from behind to win 3-1 and tilt the 2021/22 title race in their favour.
Another tense contest this January was settled by Ighalo’s predatory 12th-minute goal.
AL QASSIM DERBY
Other derbies are found throughout the division, including in Buraidah between Al Raed and Al Taawoun.
2021/22’s Al Qassim Derbies contained 11 goals, with both sides gaining a victory.
Al Raed possess a strong Romanian influence this season. They are led by Marius Sumudica, Silviu Lung Jr is in goal and Alexandru Mitrita excels on the wing.
Al Taawoun are guided by Brazilian Pericles Chamusca. Their side includes Saudi Arabia winger Sumayhan Al Nabit, Cameroon centre forward Leandre Tawamba and Paraguay playmaker Kaku.
This term’s meeting saw Al Taawoun win 3-2 at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, despite a 94th-minute penalty from Moroccan Mohamed Fouzair.
A healthy rivalry is enjoyed by Abha and Damac in the Asir Derby.
With both sides enjoying strong campaigns, there is much to enjoy.
Dutchman Roel Coumans is at the helm for Abha. Riyadh Sharahili featured for Saudi Arabia at World Cup 2022, Uros Matic – brother of Roma’s Nemanja – marshals midfield alongside him and ex-Manchester City, Lazio and Internazionale striker Felipe Caicedo bolsters their attack.
Croatian Kresimir Rezic has made a firm impression at Damac since he took over in 2021. His current squad contains compatriot Domagoj Antolic, Brazilian striker Bruno Duarte and Algeria veteran Hillal Soudani – formerly of Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos.
This January’s derby contained an epic finale, with Saleh Al Amri earning a 2-1 home victory for Abha.