DUBAI: The Saudi Pro League is set to return next week to finish eight rounds of fixtures, after it was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s all about the numbers at this stage of the season with just six points separating Riyadh rivals Al Hilal and Al Nassr at the top of the table, which the fight for survival sees a margin of just ten points from the bottom six clubs.
It will have been 144 long days between games in the SPL, since the league was halted in March, but it returns in style with the table topping Riyadh derby kicking off on Wednesday 5 August.
Al-Hilal will be looking to regain the SPL title after Al Nassr pipped them to the trophy last season. Should they win the Riyadh derby then they will create a nine-point barrier and have the title in their sights with just seven more games to go.
Al Nassr have the better head-to-head record going into the game, with Al Hilal’s last derby win coming back in October 2017.
Al Nassr will be hoping for top scorer Abderrazak Hamdallah to continue his fine form in these clashes, having netted four times in the last three Riyadh derbies. A home win will close the gap to just three points.
The race for the SPL golden boot is arguably the biggest accolade for individuals in the league.
The league’s current leader is Abderrazak Hamdallah with 18 goals, with the Moroccan continuing to set the pace having recorded an impressive 34 goals last season in his debut season with Al Nassr. Al Hilal frontman Bafetimbi Gomis is currently second in this season’s race to be the top scorer with 14 goals, whilst Al Ahli’s Omar Al Somah has found the back of the net on 13 occasions.
Whilst Al Nassr lead the charts at the goalscoring end of the pitch, fans should be equally impressed Brad Jones and his efforts in between the sticks. The former Liverpool man has recorded 10 clean sheets this season, two ahead of Tunisian shot-stopper Farouk Ben Mustapha who has impressed for Al Shabab.]
Despite the struggles at the bottom end of the table, Damac’s Moustapha Zeghba has recorded seven clean sheets, along with Saudi Arabian duo Al Hilal’s Abdullah Al Maiouf and Mustafa Malayekah for Al Faisaly.
The bottom of the table is tight and there are just four points separating Jeddah giants Al Ittihad and the drop zone. Bottom club Al-Adalah with 17 points, face The Tigers on the last day of the season which could prove to be a nail-biting end to the campaign.
The bottom three is made up by Damac in 15th place on 18 points, whilst Al-Fateh are just one place above them on 19 points.
Four places are up grabs at the top of the table with third place Al-Wehda having just eight points separating them from eighth placed Al Shabab who parted company with manager Luis Garcia during lockdown.
They will be hoping for a resurgence but face competition from Al-Ahli, Al Faisaly, Al-Taawoun and Al-Raed for Champions League football.
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.