- Al Hilal’s five key strengths could make the difference against Flamengo
- Experienced coaching and clinical finishing boost their performances
- Returning Giovinco and in-form Carrillo will also be factors
Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal will continue their FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™ campaign with a semi-final against Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo on Tuesday 17 December. Al Hilal have progressed remarkably this year, which makes them tough opponents for the Brazilian outfit. Flamengo’s coach Jorge Jesus knows this better than anyone, having been in charge of Al Hilal immediately prior to joining the Brazilian club. Ahead of their semi-final, FIFA.com takes a closer look at five of Al Hilal’s key strengths.
1. Lucescu’s experience and tactical nous
Head coach Razvan Lucescu mastery of tactics is one of Al Hilal’s key assets. Known for his meticulous team preparations – mental, tactical, and physical – his success with Al Hilal is testimony to his deep knowledge of Arab football, clearly helped by his time in charge of Qatar’s El Jaish SC. The Romanian manager places great value on tactical precision like many eastern European coaches. He is also known for the impact of his substitutions and his reading of games, as seen in his replacement of midfielder Gustavo Cuellar wirh Gomis against ES Tunis. Gomis would go on to score the game’s only goal.
2. Alburayk and Alshahrani, modern full-backs
Lucescu is an advocate of wingbacks and makes the most of the attacking skills of his defenders Mohammed Alburayk and Yasser Alshahrani. The duo often help their side’s attacking efforts, as was evident in the match against ES Tunis. Alshahrani, in particular, played a prominent role going forward, while Alburayk’s contribution was perhaps curtailed because of a recent injury and a lack of game time. Credit must also go to defenders Ali Albulayhi and Jang Hyunsoo, who worked tirelessly against EST to plug the gaps and cover for their colleagues and will be hoping to do the same against their Brazilian opponents.
3. Sebastian Giovinco’s return and partnership with Andre Carrillo
In addition to Cuellar, who is a formidable battler, and the indefatigable Carlos Eduardo, Carrillo and Giovinco start a great many of Al Hilal’s attacks. The latter, who missed the ES Tunis game because of injury, will start against Flamengo, providing a boost to Al Hilal. As for Carrillo, game after game he demonstrates his technical prowess. The ES Tunis match was no exception, with the Peruvian providing the assist for the game’s only goal.
4. High pressure, possession and positional interchanging
As a graduate of the eastern European school of football, Razvan Lucescu is a firm advocate of the high press, possession football, fast counter-attacks, and getting balls in behind opposing defences. Players like Carrillo and Salem Aldawsari often contribute to attacking moves from midfield, making the team as a whole even more dangerous.
5. Bafetimbi Gomis’ goalscoring efficiency
With his physical strength, gift for winning balls in the box and his strong self-belief, Gomis has a lot to offer Al Hilal. A keen positional sense only adds to the goal threat he provides. Against ES Tunis, it was the substitute Gomis who signaled to his team-mate to pass the ball to Carrillo before he received it from him and scored. This awareness showed that Gomis is not only a goalscorer – he netted 11 times in the club’s successful 2019 AFC Champions League campaign – but also someone with the experience to orchestrate attacks.