Al Ittihad - Persepolis Preview: Saudi and Iranian giants set for knockout clash
Wednesday's Round of 16 clash pits two of West Asia's biggest clubs against one another, although the Tigers have a great recent history in the ACL, in direct contrast to Piroozi
By Ben Somerford & Pejman Rahbar
Hazzazi, Asseri, Al Muwallad, Al Montashari
Kariri, Abd Rabo
Aliasgar, Nosrati, Sheys Rezaei, Pooladi
Gholamreza Rezaei, Noori, Karimi
Al Ittihad boss Raul Caneda has a strong side to choose from for this clash and it is likely he'll favour a 4-2-1-2-1 line-up with livewire Naif Hazazi at the top. The Tigers finished the group stage in top spot in Group B with a last-gasp 3-2 win over Al Arabi, with Moroccan attacker Abdelghani Faouzi scoring a stoppage-time winner. He's likely to be part of their attacking trio, alongside highly-rated Mohammed Noor and Hazazi too.
Persepolis have a few concerns with fitness worries for star attacker Ali Karimi, as well as full-back Mehrdad Pooladi and midfielder Saman Aghazamani, however it seems only the latter will miss the game. The team, who finished the 2011-12 Iranian season down in 12th, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday but there remains talk of internal problems among the players and coach Mustafa Denizli.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Al Ittihad have a fine ACL history having won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005, while they were runners-up in 2009 and reached the final four in 2011.
- The Tigers' last piece of major silverware was back in 2010, when they lifted the Saudi Champions Cup. They haven't been domestic champions since 2009.
- In last year's ACL, these two sides were grouped together, with Al Ittihad winning 3-1 in Jeddah, while Persepolis triumphed 3-2 in Tehran.
- Persepolis may be one of Asia's best supported clubs but they have an underwhelming record on the continent, having never reached the decider before, while city rivals Esteghlal are four-time finalists.
- The Tehran giants reached consecutive Asian Club Championship semi-finals in the 1999-00 and 2000-01 editions, but under the current Champions League format have struggled with last year's Round of 16 effort their best in recent history.
- Piroozi coach Mustafa Denizli guided PAS Tehran to the ACL quarter-finals in 2005.
Top 3 Predictions
Al Ittihad 1-2 Persepolis
- 34.53 %
Al Ittihad 1-3 Persepolis
- 10.77 %
Al Ittihad 0-2 Persepolis
- 8.01 %
|Asia - AFC Champions League (ACL)||May 23, 2012||Al Ittihad 3 - Persepolis 0|
|Apr 15, 2014||Al Ittihad 2 - Tractor Sazi Tabriz 0||ACL|
|Apr 6, 2014||Najran 2 - Al Ittihad 0||KSA1|
|Apr 2, 2014||Al Ittihad 3 - Lekhwiya 1||ACL|
|Mar 28, 2014||Al Ittihad 4 - Al-Shoalah 1||KSA1|
|Mar 23, 2014||Al Nasr 3 - Al Ittihad 1||KSA1|
|33||Osama Al Moualad||Defender|
|21||Hamad Al Montashari||Defender|
|28||Mohammed Abo Sabaan||Midfielder|
|8||Hosni Abd Rabou||Midfielder|
|28||Ali Al Mazyadi||Goalkeeper|
|16||Moshiel Al Sayed||Defender|
|-||Fabrice Nguessi Ondama||Striker|
|7||Hamidreza Ali Asgari||Defender|
|-||Amir Hossain Feshangchi||Defender|
|-||Ali Reza Mohammad||Defender|
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed