Complacency is Al Hilal’s only true enemy when they defend a gargantuan 4-1 first-leg lead against depleted Al Sadd in Tuesday’s 2019 AFC Champions League semi-final decider.
The Saudi Professional League giants – aided by 2018 AFC Player of the Year Abdelkarim Hassan’s unforgivable red card for dissent – roared back from a goal down in Doha three weeks ago. A eventful tie for ex-France centre forward Bafetimbi Gomis witnessed him first place into his own goal, before his brace was added to by Saudi Arabia centre-back Ali Al Bulayhi and veteran midfielder Mohammed Al Shalhoub.
With Sadd’s prolific Algeria hit man Baghdad Bounedjah also picking up a ban in the final throes, it leaves the 2011 winners with a Herculean task at Riyadh’s King Saud University Stadium. For hosts Hilal, who’ve never lifted the ACL in its current 17-year guise, a third final appearance in six editions is virtually assured.
In East Asia, Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou Evergrande will need to be lifted by more than 50,000 partisan fans on Wednesday when they attempt to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit to two-time champions Urawa Red Diamonds.
Long-distance strikes from Fabricio and Takahiro Sekine put the Japanese giants in a strong position against the Chinese Super League heavyweights and two-time continental victors. The midweek hosts at Tianhe Stadium will look towards Brazil midfielders Paulinho and Anderson Talisca, plus naturalised China striker Elkeson (or Ai Kesen), to put them back into contention.
The last-four winners from either side of Asia will meet in next month’s two-legged showpiece.
Know more about Sport360 Application