How the Saudi Pro League Looks After Al Nassr’s Opening Day Defeat on Match Week 1

How the Saudi Pro League Looks After Al Nassr’s Opening Day Defeat on Match Week 1

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at August 15, 2023 at 10:44 AM
In this article:
Karim Benzema logo
Al-Ittihad Club logoFFrance logo
Sadio Mané logo
S. Mané
Al Nassr FC logoFSenegal logo
Roberto Firmino logo
R. Firmino
Al-Ahli SFC logoFBrazil logo
Cristiano Ronaldo logo
C. Ronaldo
Al Nassr FC logoFPortugal logo
  • Al Ittihad and Al-Hilal laid down a marker in the opening round of the Saudi Pro League
  • While the main title contenders chalked victories, Al-Nassr stumbled to a disappointing loss
  • The Saudi top-flight resumes on Thursday, August 17, when Al Khaleej take on Al Ahli

The 2023/24 Saudi Pro League campaign officially kicked off on August 11, with newly-promoted Al Ahli raising the curtain on what promises to be a thrilling season with a clash against Al Hazem.

Al Ahli, after rejuvenating their side by acquiring high-profile stars like Edouard Mendy, Riyad Mahrez, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Roberto Firmino, displayed their prowess right away.

Saudi Pro League, Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, standings, Al-Nassr, Cristiano Ronaldo, Asia, ranked
Benzema's Al Ittihad sit at the top of the Saudi Pro League after match week 1. Photo credit: @ALAHLI_FCEN @ittihad_en @AlNassrFC_EN
Source: Twitter

Their encounter with Al Hazem ended in a commanding 3-1 victory, thanks to Firmino's impressive hat trick, BBC reports.

Among the matches played, a total of five teams managed to score two or more goals. Notably, the reigning champions, Al Ittihad, commenced their season with a flawless performance.

The Tigers convincingly defeated Al Raed 3-0, with last season's top scorer Abderrazak Hamdallah getting off the mark from the get-go while maintaining a clean sheet on August 14th.

In parallel, Al Hilal, a strong contender for the title, mirrored Al Ahli's success by securing a similar outcome.

On the contrary, Al-Nassr faced an unexpected setback in the absence of their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and several key players who joined during the summer transfer window.

Luis Castro's charges suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of Al Ettifaq, coached by legendary Liverpool player Steven Gerrard, according to GOAL.

How the SPL table looks

In the first week of matches, a total of six victories were registered, and among those, only three teams managed to keep clean sheets.

Furthermore, three matches ended in draws, with one of them featuring Al Shabab, a team that includes the highly experienced Argentina international Ever Banega, with 65 international caps, per Transfermarkt.

In this fixture, Shabab and newly-promoted Al Akhdoud shared the spoils with the Saudi League newcomers.

Following their convincing victory against Al Raed, Al Ittihad claimed the leading position in the standings, determined by goal difference.

Al Hilal secured the second spot, and there are reports of them being on the verge of finalizing a major deal for Neymar. Meanwhile, Al Ahli, Al Feiha, Al Ettifaq, Al Riyadh, and Al Taee rounded up the top seven positions.

At the lower end of the table, Al Hazem, Al Khaleej, and Al Raed find themselves in the relegation zone. Surprisingly, Al-Nassr, the winners of the Arab Cup, currently sit disappointingly in the 12th position.

Ronaldo's Al-Nassr fall to defeat

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Al-Nassr encountered an initial setback in the 2023-24 Saudi Pro League, experiencing defeat on the opening day against Al Ettifaq at the Prince Mohammed bin Fahd Stadium on a Monday evening.

Under the guidance of Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, Ettifaq orchestrated a second-half comeback, overturning a deficit to secure victory over Al-Nassr with a 2-1 scoreline.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.