Preview: Al-Hilal vs. Al Riyadh – prediction, team news, lineups – Sports Mole

Two sides in contrasting form square off in round six of the Saudi Professional League when Al-Hilal play host to Al Riyadh at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium on Friday.
While the Blue Waves head into the weekend in search of a fourth victory on the bounce, the visiting side will be looking to end their run of three consecutive defeats.

Al Hilal's Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring their first goal on September 1, 2023© Reuters
Al-Hilal have flown out of the blocks in the 2023-24 Professional League campaign and already find themselves top of the league standings after five rounds of matches.
After kicking off the season with a 3-1 victory over Abha at the Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium on August 14, Al-Hilal were held to a somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw by Al-Fayha five days later.
Jorge Jesus‘s men responded with two resounding victories, thrashing Al-Raed 4-0 in Buraydah on August 24, four days before returning home to claim a 2-0 victory over Steven Gerrard‘s Al-Ettifaq.
Al-Hilal turned in another performance of the highest quality in their last outing before the international break as they came from two goals down to snatch a 4-3 victory over Al-Ittihad on September 1.
The Blue Waves have now picked up four wins and one draw from their opening five matches to collect 13 points and sit top of the Professional League table, only above second-placed Al-Taawoun on goal difference.
Al-Hilal saw their three-year dominance come to an end last season when they picked up 59 points from 30 matches to finish third in the table, behind Al-Nassr and first-placed Al-Ittihad.
Al Hilal's Abdullah Al Hamdan and teammates celebrate after winning the penalty shootout on February 4, 2023© Reuters
Making their first Professional League appearance in nearly two decades, Al-Riyadh have endured a turbulent return to the Saudi Arabian top flight.
Yannick Ferrera‘s men ended their 17-year absence from the Professional League last season when they picked up 63 points from 34 matches in the second tier to finish fourth in the standings.
Al Riyadh were left empty handed for the third consecutive game last time out as they suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Al Akhdood on September 1 at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.
In a cagey affair, 33-year-old forward Leandre Tawamba came up trumps for the away side as he netted the only goal of the game 10 minutes after the half-time interval to hand them their first win of the season.
Al Riyadh have now picked up just one point from the last 12 available since Knowledge Musona‘s 17th-minute strike helped them scrape a 1-0 victory over Al-Wehda in the league curtain-raiser on August 12
This poor run of form has been owing to their lack of sting at the attacking end of the pitch, where they have failed to breach the opposition’s defence in three consecutive outings while shipping eight goals in that time.

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New signing Al-Hilal's Neymar is presented to the fans inside the stadium before the match on August 19, 2023© Reuters
Neymar became Brazil’s all-time leading scorer after breaking Pele‘s long-standing record with his brace in the 5-1 victory over Bolivia and all eyes will be on the 31-year-old as he prepares to make his Al-Hilal debut.
Fellow summer signing Aleksandar Mitrovic had a debut to remember as he scored a hat-trick to fire the Blue Waves to all three points against Al Ittihad last time out and the former Fulham man should retain his role in the XI.
On the injury front, Jesus will be unable to call upon the services of 28-year-old midfielder Abdulelah Al-Malki, who has been sidelined since January through an ACL injury.
Senegalese player Bouly Junior Sambou recently recovered from a muscle problem and the former Wydad AC man could make his long-awaited Al Riyadh debut this weekend.
However, the visitors will have to cope without 27-year-old midfielder Hussain Ali Alnowaiqi, who has missed the last three matches after coming off injured against Damac in August.

Al-Hilal possible starting lineup:
Bono; Al Shahrani, Al Bulayhi, Jahfali, Abdulhamid; Neves, Kanno; Al Dawsari, Malcolm, Michael; Mitrovic
Al Riyadh possible starting lineup:
Campana; Tosca, Asiri, Arslanagic; Al Khaibari, Ndong, Toure, Kurdi; Juanmi, Musona, Al Rashidi

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Al Riyadh are in for another tough 90 minutes against a star-studded Al-Hilal side who are currently firing on all cylinders. Given the gulf in quality and depth between the two sides, we are tipping the Blue Waves to ease to a routine victory.

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

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