Saudi Arabia’s Football Moment and the Club World Cup Final
If anyone told you that between November and February, the following events would happen…
a) Saudi Arabia’s International selection would be the only team to beat Argentina in the 2022 FIFA World Cup (and they wouldn’t use lots of recently naturalized players!)
b) Al Hilal would beat Flamengo in the FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals
c) Cristiano Ronaldo would score the 4th poker trick of his career playing for Al-Nassr
That’s quite a strong list of events within such a short time window.
Many have been pointing out the geopolitical relevance of these events, but let’s stay focused only on the football aspects of this.
Hiring good players is always a great first step to developing a league further. Of course, nurturing local talent is the ultimate step to make football or any sport grow anywhere.
But honestly, I think Cristiano Ronaldo himself expected some further European action before a move like this. The rumours that he fired his agent because he couldn’t secure a move to Chelsea of Bayern Munich demonstrate that perhaps this happened prematurely.
But the movie surely will help Ronaldo break tons of records in terms of number of goals scored.
Saudi Arabia v Argentina: World Cup
If the king decides that there’s going to be a holiday to celebrate the victory of an international selection on the group stage, it tells you lots of things.
Firstly, Saudi Arabia really likes football. Secondly, they have the resources to make Saudi Arabia the capital of football in Asia.
Real Madrid – Al Hilal: FIFA Club World Cup Final
Real Madrid has a talented team and they don’t want any negative breaking news as they’re already living a complicated month and recently dropped vital points in La Liga when they lost against Mallorca.
But their motivation doesn’t go much further than this: not becoming a laughing stock.
The Spanish press calls the tournament the ‘Mundialito’ which translates as ‘Little World Cup’, meaning this is far less relevant than a Copa del Rey or Spanish Super Copa game (which happened in Saudi Arabia recently!)
The Spanish press even questioned in the occasion the true ‘hunger’ of Real Madrid for the game against Barcelona.
Al Hilal has invested in strong names from South America and their squad can be the source of headaches for Carlo Ancelotti.
The current odds for Real Madrid to win at 1.27 may underestimate the chances of a draw or victory of the Saudi team happening before extra time.
The main reason here is the fatigue of Real Madrid’s squad, the constant problems with injuries and the fact that the Saudi team is more interested in winning this game.
The Asian Handicap has odds of -1.75 @2.03 on average and the over/under lines are around 3. I don’t see value in pre match odds as there’s way too much unpredictability in the air.
But if Al Hilal scores early in the game, buying a big negative handicap against Los Blancos may be a valuable opportunity.