- Uruwa Red Diamonds v Al-Hilal
- Saturday May 6, 2023, 05:00 ET
- At the Saitama Stadium
Al Hilal is the most successful club in AFC Champions League history, but after a strong first-leg performance, Uruwa Red Diamonds are the best pick to lift the trophy.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks we can see that bettors slightly favor the home team, Uruwa Red Diamonds in this second leg. The Japanese team is rated as a +121 favorite to win this game, with the draw the underdog at +235 and the visiting team, Al Hilal, priced at +185.
|AFC Champions League Final|
|Uruwa Red Diamonds||+121|
AFC Champions League Briefing
The AFC Champions League has a history that goes back almost as far as that of the European Champions League, having its origins in the short-lived Asian Champion Club competition, which was first staged in 1967 and relaunched as the Asian Club Championship in 1985.
Teams from South Korea and Saudi Arabia have dominated the tournament, winning 18 titles between them, and the most successful team in the tournament’s history, Al-Hilal, is bidding for a third win in four years against the 2017 winners and 2019 runners-up, Uruwa Red Diamonds, of Japan.
This season, the tournament has reverted to the regular two-legged final after being played in a single game in 2020 and 2021. The first leg of the final, at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, produced a tight game that ended 1-1. If the final is still level after the second leg, extra time and penalties will be used to decide the winner, rather than the away goal rule.
Free Scoring Uruwa Finding Form
Two-time winner of this competition and a finalist as recently as 2017 and 2019, Uruwa Red Diamonds is one of the most successful AFC teams of the Champions League era and this season it has provided plenty of entertainment for neutrals, thanks to a free-scoring style of play.
Uruwa did not finish on top of its Group in the initial stage of the competition, but it scored 20 goals, more than any other team, across its six games and it has continued to fire in the goals in subsequent rounds, scoring five past Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim and four against Pathum United of Thailand before coming through an entertaining 2-2 semi-final against South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Under new manager Maciej Skorza, Uruwa has made a solid start to the JI League season and goes into this second leg with an unbeaten 12-game record across all competitions. Having earned a valuable draw in the first leg, Skorza’s team will be tough to beat at the Saitama Stadium 2002.
Problems for Al Hilal
Al Hilal began the Champions League as one of the tournament favorites and had little difficulty in progressing from its Group in first place, before beating Shabab Al-Ali of Dubai in the Round of 16 and then scraping a narrow 1-0 victory over Foolad of Iran in the last eight.
The team then found its scoring touch in the semi-final against Qatar’s Al-Duhail, in which Al-Hilal raced into a 4-0 lead after half an hour and Nigerian striker Ighalo ended the game with four goals. That performance took Ighalo to seven goals for the tournament, making him the second top goalscorer overall although he was unable to add to his tally in the 1-1 draw against Uruwa in the first leg of the final.
After that performance, Al-Hilal head coach Ramon Angel Diaz faces significant problems going into the second leg, most notably the fact that key player Salem Al Dawsari was sent off in Riyadh with four minutes to go and will not be able to play here. The team has also been struggling domestically, with only one win in the last four games in the Saudi Pro League.
AFC Champions League Head-to-Head Record
As two of the strongest teams in the Champions League in recent years, it is not a surprise to find that the head-to-head record between Al-Hilal and Uruwa Red Diamonds is closely matched.
The first meeting between the two teams, back in 2018, ended in a 1-1 draw, as did the latest on April 29, but three other fixtures between the two have produced victories. Uruwa won 1-0 in the second leg of that 2017 tie, while Al-Hilal won both legs of the 2019 final, by an aggregate score of 3-0.
AFC Champions League Match Betting Picks
The one thing that we can expect in the AFC final is a low-scoring match. While both teams scored freely in the knockout stages, their five previous meetings have produced a total of eight goals. It is also worth noting that this game is usually a low scoring one. Only one of the last 15 games played at the AFC Champions League Final stage has produced more than two goals. That suggests that either the draw or the Under 2.5 goals options would be the best picks here.
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