Al-Nassr vs Al-Tai: Preview and Prediction

Two sides enduring contrasting Saudi Pro League fortunes will square off at Al Awwal at King Saud University on Saturday evening as runner-up Al-Nassr face third-from-bottom Al-Tai.

Al-Nassr are challenging towards the top of the-table but they do begin this weekend’s round of fixtures 12 points below champions-elect Al-Hilal as they get set to take on Al-Tai.

After a string of setbacks, Al-Nassr managed to get back on the winning track in the last round with an unconvincing 1-0 win over third-placed Al-Ahli, who are now nine points adrift of Luis Castro’s second-placed side. The Knights of Najd are slowly cruising towards the final stretch of the season without any viable targets.

Being knocked out of the AFC Champions League and losing significant ground on title-rivals Hilal after dropping points against Al-Raed and Al-Hazem, their campaign is petering out, with the rest of the season looking more of a formality at this point.

On the contrary, Al-Tai are still fighting for survival at the bottom end of the table. Given that the 16th-placed Al-Tai with 22 points and the 13th-placed Al-Raed are only separated by two points, most of the bottom of the standings are in a scrap to stay put in the Saudi top-flight next season, including Al-Akhood and Al-Riyadh.

Although Laurentiu Reghecampf’s side have shown green shoots of recovery lately, forcing Al-Ettifaq to a draw in their last match and overcoming Al Hazem 1-0 prior to that, it will be a tall order for them to continue their fine run in Riyadh.

Team News & Tactics


David Ospina has started the previous two league games in goal for Al-Nassr after returning from injury. The veteran goalkeeper should hold his spot between the sticks for this encounter, with Nawaf Al-Aqidi banned for the next four months and Waleed Abdullah in the club’s infirmary.

Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ayman Yahya, and Otavio were all in midweek action for their respective national teams and will be back in contention to start here.

Anderson Talisca has missed the last four games for the hosts due to a muscular issue, so Saudi Arabia international winger Ayman Yahya will take his place on the right wing, having worked his way to full fitness with the national team.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Ahmed, Alawjami, Laporte, Telles; Otavio, Brozovic; Yahya, Ghareeb, Mane; Ronaldo


Al-Tai have no fresh injury concerns for the trip to Riyadh, and Laurentiu Reghecampf is expected to stick with the same starting lineup that held Al-Ettifaq to a draw before the international break.

Ghanaian enforcer Bernard Mensah is the team’s top scorer this term with 10 goals and should partner Alfa Semedo and Rakan Al-Shamlan Al-Anaze in the middle of the park. At the back, goalkeeper Moataz Al-Baqaawi will sit behind the back four of Ibrahim Al Nakhkli, Robert Bauer, Enzo Roco, and Safwan Aljohani.

Virgil Misidjan scored his third goal of the season last time out and should spearhead the attack again in this one, with further support arriving from Andrei Cordea and Salman Al-Moasher.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Al Bagawi; Al Nakhli, Bauer, Roco, Aljohani; Semedo, Mensah, Al-Anaze; Cordea, Al-Moasher; Misidjan

Key Stats

  • Al-Tai have managed just six wins in 24 games this season (D4 L14).
  • Al-Tai have won only one of their past six Pro League games (D2 L3).
  • In the reverse fixture between the two sides, Al-Nassr were victorious but not with ease, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the decisive goal only in the 87th minute.
  • The visitors have only picked up five points from a possible 36 this season and are winless in their past four games (L3 D1).

Player to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo

Embed from Getty Images

It is fair to say that the season has not turned out as Cristiano Ronaldo envisioned with Al-Nassr. He is perched atop the top scorers’ list with 23 goals in 21 appearances this season. But as much as he appreciates the personal awards, he plainly prioritises team success with the Knights of Najd this campaign.

Although the frustration will be there inside him after yet another torrid international break, the Portuguese international is expected to stay professional and continue to win games for the hosts with his remarkable poaching abilities.


Al-Nassr 3-0 Al-Tai

Al-Tai desperately need to string together a few positive results to pull away from the relegation zone. Unfortunately for the visitors, though, they are facing a wounded beast in Al-Nassr, who will view this as an excellent chance to pick up another three points and close in on their spot in next season’s AFC Champions League.

Al-Nassr are massive favourites heading into this match, and The Hard Tackle feel they will claim yet another straightforward victory. We are going with a 3-0 win for Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates.

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