FIFA Club World Cup, FIFA World Cup

  • Al Hilal enter AFC Champions League decider with 1-0 lead
  • Saudi giants aim to avenge their final loss two years ago
  • Hosts Urawa eyeing a record third title

The 2019 AFC Champions League reaches its climax when Urawa Red Diamonds entertain Al Hilal in the second leg of the final on Sunday. With the continental trophy as well as a place at the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™ on the line, the competition looks set to be ferocious.

Playing in front of their adoring fans, of course, Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s hosts side enter the tournament decider hoping to continue their impressive form on home soil which had seen them draw with Shanghai SIPG and win against Guangzhou Evergrande en route to the final. But it is Razvan Lucescu’s visitors who head to the rematch with a slim advantage having prevailed 1-0 in the opening leg.

And having lost 2-1 on aggregate at the same stage two years ago, the Saudi giants will be extra motivated to avoid repeating the taste of defeat at the final hurdle. Join as we take a closer look at the pairing.

The match

Urawa Red Diamonds-Al Hilal

Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama
Sunday 24 November, 19:01 local time

Sunday’s showdown sees the two sides enter the re-meeting in contrasting form. Hosts Urawa have gone four matches winless in all competitions, including losing 2-0 to Kawasaki Frontale at home in a recent J.League outing. Al Hilal, conversely, have remained undefeated in three recent games, notably thumping second-division side Arar 4-1 in King Cup.

The visitors have so far racked up 24 goals which will see them take to the field as the tournament’s top scorers. Needless to say, Al Hilal will look to reproduce their superior form of the first leg where they were dominant throughout, creating numerous goalscoring opportunities. Furthermore, they can take heart from their impressive away record in this campaign having remained undefeated in all three away matches during the knockout stage thus far.

While many factors favour the visitors, Urawa will count on their trademark fighting spirit as they aim to stage a comeback at their Saitama fortress. And with in-form veteran striker Shinzo Koroki spearheading the attacking-line, they have proved more than capable of defeating any opponent on their day.

Player to watch

Having featured for Urawa in their title-winning campaign in 2017, Shinzo Koroki has made more of an impact in this year’s competition. The 33-year-old has so far garnered eight goals, notably scoring five times in the knockout stage. His experience and goalscoring form will be key if the home team are to upstage Al Hilal to claim their third Champions League title.

The stat

4 – Only four goals were scored during the two sides’ past three AFC Champions League final meetings, indicating that Sunday’s decider will likely be a contest of fine margins.

What they said

“This is a trophy that we have been trying to get our hands on for a long time, and we still haven’t won anything. We will need a bit of luck in the second leg.” Al Hilal midfielder Mohammad Al Shalhoub

“We learnt a lot from [the first leg] and, of course, we will do better in the second leg. I cannot say how we will approach the next game, but we have found things out that will help us. It will be another battle at home.” Urawa Red Diamonds defender Tomoaki Makino

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