Things were looking good for Al Hilal after their loss to Urawa Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League Final 2017. After yet another failure at achieving the title, many thought that this would be the beginning of the fall of Al Hilal under Ramon Diaz.
Wins against 2015/16 Champions Al Ahli and lowly side Al Raed despite the absence of Carlos Eduardo, Nicolas Milesi and Omar Khrbin initially proved that Al Hilal may not have it that hard. But a draw against Al Fateh and then their first loss in the league during 2017 – their 2nd overall in all competitions this year – against Al Feiha has led many to doubt Diaz and his players.
The loss against Al Feiha came with a weakened line up; Omar Khrbin had returned to the starting line-up, but star right back Mohammed Al Braik was missing and so was recently excellent attacking midfielder Salem Al Dossary.
Al Hilal looked like a shadow of their own selves, even when they managed to break through the Al Feiha defence, Gelmin Rivas and Omar Khrbin – two well-known finishers – crumbled under the pressure and missed many chances to put the Blue Wave in the lead.
Al Feiha then took the lead through Rony Fernandez in the 51st minute of the game, taking advantage of a defensive mistake from Al Hilal. Ramon Diaz then brought Faisal Darwish on and moved Yasser Al Shahrani to left back, paying off when he moved into attack from the left side and scored the equaliser for Al Hilal.
Yet, the complaints of Al Hilal’s failure to take advantage of set pieces were valid in this game. Al Feiha scored the winner in the 82nd minute via Danillo Asprilla (on loan from Al Ain) after a very silly defensive mishap from a corner for Al Hilal.
This kept Al Hilal in second place with 27 points, just a single point behind Al Ahli who have played two more games than Al Hilal. A set are calling for not to panic, but a game in which Al Hilal went into it with fans expecting nothing more than a draw against a relegation threatened side proves that there has been an issue to be dealt with recently.