In the upcoming match on Tuesday for matchday four of the 2023-24 Saudi Pro League, Al-Nassr aims to secure consecutive victories as they face Al Shabab at Al Awal Park, King Saud University.
Currently positioned 10th in the league, Al-Nassr holds three points from their initial three matches. Conversely, Al Shabab sits 14th, having accumulated just two points in the early stage of the season.
Al-Nassr began their season positively by clinching the Arab Club Champions Cup against Al Hilal, with Cristiano Ronaldo netting a decisive goal in extra time despite playing with nine players for most of the final 20 minutes.
However, their form took a downturn when they suffered a 2-1 loss to Al Ittifaq in their opening league match and a 2-0 defeat to Al Taawoun in their first home game.
Nevertheless, the hosts seem to have regained their momentum, securing a spot in the AFC Champions League with a 4-2 victory over Shabab Al-Ahli and dominating Al Fateh 5-0 on the road.
Luis Castro’s team triumphed in their previous league encounter against the same opponent last season, winning 3-2 at the same venue. They are unbeaten in the last four meetings, boasting two wins and two draws since November 2021.
Having finished last season trailing Al Ittihad by five points, Al-Nassr is already six points behind them this season. The coach understands the importance of not dropping more points early in the season to avoid a significant challenge ahead.
On the other hand, Al Shabab secured a fourth-place finish last season and aspires to return to AFC Champions League qualification positions this season under new manager Marcel Keizer. However, they have struggled at the start of this season with draws against Al Okhdood and Damac, along with a loss to Al Wehda.
Their upcoming match against a formidable Al-Nassr side could serve as a turning point for Al Shabab’s season. Goalkeeper David Ospina remains unavailable due to injury.
Sadio Mane, with three goals in the league, including a brace in the previous match, is among the top scorers alongside Ronaldo, who achieved a hat-trick. Fahad Al-Muwallad, who scored a crucial equalizer as a substitute, hopes to secure a spot in the starting lineup.
Mohammed Essa Harbush, who made a swift impact in the previous match by setting up Al-Muwallad’s goal shortly after entering the field, also anticipates a starting role in the lineup.