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Saudi Clubs Prevail In AFC Champions League Quarter-Finals Selection

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The upcoming quarter-finals of the 2023-24 AFC Champions League mark the progression to the tournament’s latter stages. The clubs from East and West Asia continue their separate paths until the final, and in the West, Saudi Arabia emerges as the dominant force in the draw.

With at least one Saudi club guaranteed to feature in the semi-finals, the stage is set for an intriguing showdown among the remaining eight clubs vying for continental glory. Here, Al Arabiya English provides a preview of the quarter-final matchups:

Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) vs Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia):
This all-Saudi encounter pits record four-time AFC Champions League winner Al Hilal against two-time champion Al Ittihad. It ensures a Saudi presence in the semi-final for the seventh time in the past nine seasons. The two sides, familiar foes, will clash in the Saudi Pro League just days before their continental matchup.

Al Hilal holds a favorable record against Al Ittihad, with their recent encounters highlighting Al Hilal’s dominance. Despite Al Ittihad’s reigning Saudi champion status, Al Hilal’s impressive form and unbeaten streak suggest a challenging battle for their opponents.

Prediction: While Al Ittihad has found solace in the AFC Champions League amidst domestic struggles, Al Hilal’s unstoppable momentum should see them through to the next round.

Al Ain (UAE) vs Al Nassr (Saudi Arabia):
Traditional UAE powerhouse Al Ain, led by coach Hernan Crespo, faces off against Al Nassr from Saudi Arabia. Al Ain, a dominant force in UAE football history, seeks to continue its continental journey against an Al Nassr side bolstered by star players such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

Al Nassr, despite a shaky start, has found stability under coach Luis Castro and boasts a formidable lineup capable of advancing in the tournament.

Prediction: With Al Nassr’s array of big-game players, including Ronaldo, they are favored to progress against Al Ain.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea) vs Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea):
The ‘Hyundai Derby’ features South Korean clubs Jeonbuk and Ulsan, guaranteeing representation from the Land of the Morning Calm in the semi-finals. With both clubs boasting impressive AFC Champions League titles, this clash promises a captivating battle between two Korean football giants.

Prediction: Reigning K-League champions Ulsan hold a slight advantage and are expected to advance in what promises to be a closely contested match.

Shandong Taishan (China) vs Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan):
Chinese side Shandong Taishan squares off against Japanese champions Yokohama F. Marinos in a clash of East Asian titans. Despite Shandong’s historical struggles in continental competition, they aim to overcome Yokohama, who enters the tie as favorites based on recent form.

Prediction: While Shandong has more experience at this stage, Yokohama’s current form suggests they will progress to the semi-finals.

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