Still plenty to play for in Saudi Pro League


RIYADH — With only six rounds remaining until the curtain closes on the longest-ever Saudi Pro League (SPL) season, there’s still plenty to play for on both ends of the table. The first two rounds since the restart did not disappoint and were filled with excitement and shock results, giving the fans the perfect dose of football after many months of absence.

As we approach the start of Round 25 Friday afternoon, we take a close look at the top five things SPL fans needs to know ahead of the round’s first match Al Fateh and Abha.

Winner takes all

Draws have not been an option so far with teams going all out in the remaining rounds in hope to achieve their objectives and bring joy to their supporters at home. In the opening 16 matches since the restart, just one draw was recorded between Al Raed and Al Wehda. Meanwhile, fans watching from afar enjoyed a goal fest with 46 goals finding the back of the net, with an average of 2.8 goals per match.

Champions League qualification battle heating-up

The race to the Champions League spots has been the story of the season so far, with just five points separating eighth placed Ittifaq and fourth placed Al Wehda as things stand. Al Ahli’s back-to-back wins strengthened their hopes of securing their position in the top 4, meanwhile Makkah-side Al Wehda have struggled as of late with just 1 point from a possible six since the restart.

Two massive showdowns will take place in Round 25 when Al Ahli visit Al Majmaah to face off Al Faisaly. The Jeddah giants will be hoping to make it 3 out of 3, meanwhile Al Faisaly will be eyeing the sought-after fourth position with just 2 points separating them from it.

Al Nasr will play host to Al Wehda as the Riyadh team will be hoping to continue its championship push on leaders Al Hilal. José Daniel Carreño’s men will be hoping to find their winning ways with their first 3 points since the restart.

Fight for survival continues

The drama at the top of the table may sometimes divert attention away from the action at the bottom end of the league, but that’s certainly not the case in the 19/20 campaign. SPL debutants Damac and Al Adalah are desperate for a renewed season in the top-flight, and they’ve both showed a strong will to do so by recording wins in Round 24.

With 18 points left to play for till the end of the campaign, just 7 points separate 11th placed Al Fayha with Al Adalah at the bottom of the table.

A North African battle for the top playmaker award

The top four players with the highest number of assists this season all share one thing in common — their North African descent. Al Faisaly’s Youcef El Jeblli, who is Dutch with Moroccan origins, currently leads the way with 11 assists and 46 chances created to his name. Meanwhile, Al Hazm’s Driss Fetouhi (Tunisia) comes in second with 9 assists, Al Nasr’s Nordin Amrabat (Morocco) and Abha’s Saâd Beguir (Tunisia) follow with 8 assists each.

Al Hilal can cement their position at the top

With nine points separating Riyadh neighbors Al Hilal and Al Nasr, Răzvan Lucescu enters Round 25 with confidence as they take on 16th placed Al Adalah away from home. Despite the comfortable position they find themselves in at this stage of the seaosn, the league leaders have a challenging set of matches remaining until the end of the season with crucial trips to King Abdullah Sports City to face off in-form Al Ahli and King Abdulaziz Sports City against Al Wehda. They will also play host to Riyadh neighbors Al Shabab, Champions League qualification hopefuls Al Faisaly and 12th placed Al Hazm.

Recognizing that fans are unable to attend games for the remaining eight rounds of fixtures, the SPL has developed its #OurLeagueIsBack campaign which allows fans to share their support online, with videos and messages then being shown across stadiums on matchdays.

Fans can share their messages of support easily by following social media accounts on Twitter (@SPL), Instagram (SaudiProLeague), Facebook (@SaudiProLeague.SPL) and by using the hashtag #OurLeagueIsBack. — SG