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Saudi Pro League | Gameweek 33
May 23, 2024 at 7pm UK
King Abdullah Sports City

Al Ittihad
4 - 1

Jota (39'), Haji (49'), Al-Sahafi (79'), Al-Shamrani (88')
Al Mousa (62'), Al-Shanqeeti (65'), Haidar Al Nashri (85')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Chafai (90+3')

Preview: Al Ittihad vs. Damac - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Al Ittihad vs. Damac - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Saudi Pro League clash between Al Ittihad and Damac, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

The penultimate gameweek in the Saudi Pro League will see Al Ittihad take on Damac at the Prince Abdullah al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah on Thursday evening.

The hosts will enter this match in fifth place in the league standings with 51 points after 32 games, while the visitors are 10th and on 40 points over the same period.

Match preview

Al Ittihad's title defence has been dismal, and with only two games left to play in the 2023-24 Saudi Pro League season, the best finish that the big-spending, PIF-owned club can achieve is fourth place.

Owing in part to an extensive injury list, Nadi Al-Sha'ab's difficulties in the league continued last week when they drew against Al-Khaleej, officially ending their chances of competing for the third spot that qualifies for the AFC Champions League Elite.

Against Al-Danah, Al Ittihad took the lead with a goal by Muhannad Al-Shanqeeti in first-half stoppage time, but their opponents levelled proceedings in the 81st minute through a sensational solo effort by Egyptian Mohamed Sherif.

Despite the lacklustre performance, N'golo Kante was the standout performer for Al Ittihad, creating three big chances in the match on the same day that he received a recall from the French national team for the upcoming European Championships; the former Chelsea midfielder was last capped for Les Bleus in 2022.

Heightening the post-match tensions, Al Ittihad's coach Marcelo Gallardo, who will be departing Jeddah at the end of the campaign, refused to attend the post-match press conference, marking the second time the Argentine has opted to ignore the media following a defeat.

Meanwhile, Damac's winless run in the top flight extended to four games in a row last week when they played out a 1-1 draw at home to Al Fayha. The result left the Khamis Mushait-based side three points above Al-Khaleej and one point below the sides in the top half of the table.

Following Fashion Sakala's opening goal, his record-setting sixth in as many league games for Al-Danah, Ramzi Solan equalised in the second half with a calm finish from a seemingly unfavourable angle.

The Knights of the South have recorded four wins, five draws and seven losses on the road this season and are now aiming to avoid a third away match without victory, following a 4-1 loss to Al-Ahli and a 0-0 draw to relegation candidates Abha a couple of weeks ago.

While the hosts enter this contest as the clear favourites according to the bookmakers, Cosmin Contra's side did secure a very impressive 3-1 victory when these sides met at the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Sports City Stadium back in December.

Al Ittihad Saudi Pro League form:

Damac Saudi Pro League form:

Team News

As mentioned, Al Ittihad have a laundry list of absentees, including their marquee signing Karim Benzema, who has missed the last month of action due to a muscle injury.

The former Real Madrid man has struggled to find his best form since moving to the Saudi Pro League. After a reported falling out with Gallardo earlier this season and following his return to Spain for treatment last month, new reports this week suggest the Frenchman is looking to leave the Middle East in the upcoming transfer window.

Among the players missing through injury are Fabinho, Luiz Felipe, Madallah Al-Olayan, Omar Hawsawi, Ahmed Hegazy and the club's top-scorer this season Abderrazak Hamdallah.

Damac are also missing a few key players for the final two matches of the season, including Georges-Kevin N'Koudou and Domagoj Antolic, both of whom have missed the last three games due to muscle injuries.

Abdelkader Bedrane and Assan Ceesay are ruled out with knocks, while Abdulaziz Al-Bishi is set for an extended period on the sidelines after tearing an ankle ligament on April 26 against Al-Taawoun.

Al Ittihad possible starting lineup:
Al-Mahasnah; Al Yami, Al Mosa, Kadesh, Al-Shanqeeti; Al Nashri, Kante; Al-Sahafi, Al-Amri, Jota; Romarinho

Damac possible starting lineup:
Zeghba; Hawsawi, Al-Rashidi, Chafai, Al-Obaid; Munshi, Solan, Hamed, Stanciu, Al-Qahtani; Al-Johani

We say: Al Ittihad 2-1 Damac

Al Ittihad are limping to the finish line of what has been a very disappointing season and are likely looking forward to the end of the campaign, which will allow them to commence their rebuild for next season.

While their form has been very poor of late, the hosts will be determined to avoid defeat in their final home game of the season, and we feel they will manage one last push to secure a slender victory in this one.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Premier League Table
5Al Ittihad34166126354954
6Al Ettifaq341212104334948
7Al Fateh34129135755245
8Al ShababAl Shabab34128144542344
9Al Fayha341111124452-844
11Al RaedAl Raed34910154149-837
12Al Khaleej34910153647-1137
13Al WahdaAl Wahda34106184560-1536
14Al Riyadh34811153357-2435
15Al Okhdood3496193352-1933
RAl Tai3487193464-3031
RAl Hazem34412183476-4224
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