AFC Champions League Clash: Al Ittihad vs Navbahor Preview

Al Ittihad, led by the experienced Karim Benzema, is set to clash with Navbahor in a highly anticipated AFC Champions League encounter on Thursday, 22 February 2024, at 9:30 PM IST. Al Ittihad, currently enjoying a resurgence after the midseason break, aims to secure a spot in the quarterfinals, having won three of their last four matches.

Marcelo Gallardo’s side, occupying the fifth spot in the Saudi Pro League, has also advanced to the Kings Cup semi-finals. Despite struggles in defending their league title, Al Ittihad is keen on making a mark in the prestigious AFC Champions League. Meanwhile, Navbahor, sitting second in the Uzbekistan Super League, seeks to capitalize on their solid AFC Champions League form, winning four out of seven matches in the group stage.

In terms of form, Al Ittihad has a mixed record in all competitions, with two wins, a draw, and a loss in their last four outings. On the other hand, Navbahor boasts a commendable record with two wins, a draw, and a loss in their recent matches.

Key players to watch include Karim Benzema for Al Ittihad, the former Real Madrid talisman who has contributed significantly with 15 goals and 6 assists. Navbahor relies on the Uzbekistan International, Jamshid Iskanderov, who has been instrumental with 2 goals and 3 assists, showcasing his creative passing and goal-scoring ability.

Both teams faced off in a goalless draw in the first leg, setting the stage for a tightly contested rematch at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

Injury concerns loom over Al Ittihad, with several players sidelined, including Jadani, Bamsaud, Sharahili, Felipe, and Shanqeeti, all grappling with long-term injuries. In contrast, Navbahor boasts a fully fit squad, likely fielding the same eleven that performed well in the reverse fixture.

In head-to-head statistics, the teams have met only once, resulting in a draw.

Predicted lineups for the encounter are as follows:

Al Ittihad (4-3-1-2): Muaiouf; Sagourq, Hegazy, Kadesh, Olayan; Kanté, Fabinho, Al-Ghamdi; Romarinho; Benzema, Hamdallah

Navbahor (4-5-1): Yusupov; Golban, Ivanovic, Milovic, Yoldoshev; Dokic, Boltaboev, Ismailov, Iskanderov, Sobirjonov; Tabatadze

With both teams aiming for progression, this AFC Champions League clash promises excitement and intensity on the pitch. Football enthusiasts can catch the action live at 9:30 PM IST on Thursday at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

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