Two straight losses on their return to the AFC Champions League have left Al Wasl in last place with no points ahead of their encounter today against Iranian giants Persepolis, who themselves are coming off losses both domestically and continentally.
However, the contrast in both teams’ situations are evident. Indeed, both sides lost in their respective derbies last week; Al Wasl fell 2-1 to Al Nasr at home in the Bur Dubai Derby meanwhile Persepolis narrowly lost to Esteghlal 1-0 in Tehran. Yet, Persepolis top the Iranian League by a fine margin, while Al Wasl have been ousted out of the UAE League title race.
Moreover, Al Wasl looked lackluster in defeats against Al Sadd at home (2-1) and Nasaf Qarshi in Uzbekistan (1-0), making them yet another bad mark for Emirati clubs in the competition this season.
Injuries, too, have been piling up on them before the encounter. The foreign duo of Fabio de Lima and Caio Canedo – both of whom have scored a massive proportion of Al Wasl’s goals since their arrival in 2014 – will be missing the game, while the starting centre back pair of Abdulrahman Ali and Waheed Ismail will also be unavailable.
With Al Wasl looking to end their trophy drought by winning in either of the remaining domestic cup competitions, in addition to their effort on the continental scale, it is evident that Rodolfo Arruabarena has been tasked with a near-impossible job despite a wonderful first half of the season.