Saudi version of ‘El Clasico’…Benzema vs Ronaldo in the race for top scorer
The world’s greatest rivalry game, “El Clásico” between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, is also played in Saudi Arabia.
The match between Al Hilal and Al Ittihad FC is called the Saudi Clásico. The two teams have created a rivalry that bisects the Saudi Arabian league, much like Real Madrid and Barcelona. Al Hilal has won the most titles with 18, followed by Al Ittihad with nine, along with Al Nasr. Al Hilal also has the most runner-up finishes with 15, followed by Al Ittihad with eight.
Al Hilal won the title for three 토토사이트 consecutive seasons, from 2019-20 to 2021-22. But last season, Al Ittihad bounced back to win the title for the first time in 14 years since 2008-09.
Al Hilal and Al Ittihad went from challengers to champions, and side by side, they swept aside the world-class players who dominated European soccer. The Saudi Arabian league in 2023-24 has been elevated with a more glamorous Saudi Clasico than ever before and a fierce title race.
In a transfer window that has seen the entire Saudi Arabian league target the European market, Al Ittihad have been one of the favorites. In June, they shocked the world by signing Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema (2022). His contract runs until 2026. At a whopping €200 million per year, Benzema is a big name.
Benzema was not the end, but the beginning. Less than a month later, we signed another world-class midfielder, N’Golo Kante. In addition to Jota, who led the Celtic attack, veteran Liverpool midfielder Fabinho recently joined Al Ittihad.
Al Hilal have also received interest from Al Ittihad. Former English Premier League players Nabil Neves and Kalidou Koulibaly, as well as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, one of the best midfielders in the Italian Serie A, have worn Al Hilal jerseys. Al Hilal have spent €178 million on players so far in the summer transfer window.
They’re not the only reason for the club’s high profile. Al Hilal have been in the running to sign Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. While the deals fell through due to the players’ desire to stay in Europe, the club showed off its financial muscle by offering €1 billion for Mbappe alone, including transfer fees and salary, an astronomical sum that European teams could not afford.
Al Nasr, who finished second last season after signing Cristiano Ronaldo, will also challenge for the title this season. Sadio Mane joins Ronaldo as his attacking partner, while Marcelo Brozovic supports them in the midfield. The defense is rounded out by Alex Teles, a flanking defender with attacking ability.
Al Ittifa and Al Ahly are also considered dark horses for the title. Al Ittifaq has been touted as a reunion between Liverpool legends Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. Riyad Mahrez, a key part of last season’s Manchester City triumph, is the latest addition to the squad, while Al Ahli also boasts a number of former Premier League players, including Alain Saint-Maximin, Roberto Firmino, and Edouard Mendy.
The race for top goalscorer is likely to come down to a battle between former Real Madrid teammates Ronaldo and Benzema. Ronaldo showed no signs of rust last season, scoring 14 goals in 16 games. This season, with the addition of Mane and Brozovic, he’s expected to have even more scoring opportunities.
Mousa Dembele, who joined Saudi Arabia after playing for Atletico Madrid and Olympique Lyonnais, is another favorite for the top scorer’s award. Dembele scored 21 goals in 30 appearances for Lyon in the 2021-22 season.
The world’s greatest rivalry game, “El Clásico” between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, is also played in Saudi Arabia. The match between Al Hilal and Al Ittihad FC is called the Saudi Clásico. The two teams have created a rivalry that bisects the Saudi Arabian league, much like Real Madrid and Barcelona. Al Hilal has…