Al-Ittihad vs AGMK
Al-Ittihad’s AFC Champions League campaign kicks off at the King Abdullah Sports City against Uzbeki minnows AGMK.
Except for a dramatic 4-3 home loss to record-time Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal at the beginning of September, Al-Ittihad’s domestic title defense is going according to plan. Karim Benzema and his teammates have won their remaining five league fixtures by an aggregate score of 13-0. However, they barely squeezed past Al Akhdoud in the build-up to this trip, running out 1-0 winners, courtesy of Benzema’s strike midway through the second half. Nuno Espirito Santo’s rock-solid backline has been the team’s standout feature, with Al-Hilal remaining the only side to score against Al-Ittihad this term. Espirito Santo’s men have delivered a mixed bag of first-half performance lately, drawing a blank before the break twice in their last four outings while netting precisely three goals in that timeframe across the other two.
In the meantime, visiting AGMK could take advantage of Al-Ittihad’s topsy-turvy first-half displays to bolster their case here, although they’d need to upset the apple cart to leave Jeddah undefeated. The visitors can draw confidence from an inspiring eight-game unbeaten streak in the lead-up to this trip (W5, D3), which includes a brace of a 1-0 wins over Al Seeb in the AFC Champions League qualification playoffs. But defensive solidity hasn’t been AGMK’s strong suit lately, with the ‘Miners’ registering just three clean sheets across their last 14 outings in all competitions, which could come back to bite them against Al-Ittihad’s formidable frontline.