Saudi Arabia v Palestine
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There’s a key fixture in Group D of the Asia qualifiers for World Cup 2022 taking place on Tuesday, involving Saudi Arabia and Palestine.
Saudi Arabia currently occupy second place in Group D and have a game in hand. A victory over Palestine will see them leapfrog Uzbekistan and top the table at the halfway mark in the qualifying campaign.
At first, this tie looks quite tricky to predict. Although Palestine occupy last place with four points, those have come against the strongest outfits – Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia.
Palestine held Herve Renard’s side 0-0 back in November 2019 on home soil, in what was very much a a drab affair and no one deserved to come out on top.
There’s a key difference this time round though. Palestine are a mess.
Absences could cost Palestine
Most recently, Palestine played a friendly in Kuwait in preparation for their match against Saudi. Regular first team player Oday Dabbagh has been blocked from leaving Kuwait due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
The Palestine Football Association has also fallen out with several first team members of the squad, including former captain Abdelatif Bahdari and Abdallah Jaber, who has not missed a competitive fixture since September 2017. Both have been left out for the Saudi match.
To add to the embarrassment, Ahmed Awad, Nazmi Albadawi and Amr Kaddoura were all selected to be part of the squad but were not issued with plane tickets and as a result, are also missing out on the qualifier.
There’s also a crisis in their forward line, with striker Mahmoud Wadi, who plays for Pyramid, one of Egypt’s biggest teams, also out through injury.
Shehab Qombor, Palestine’s top domestic goalscorer, has pulled out due to illness, leaving Palestine with one recognised striker, Saleh Chihadeh. This will be only his second appearance for the national team and there’s now an awful lot of pressure on the 26-year-old.
To make matters worse, Palestine need to win all their remaining games and hope their opponents slip up down the road – so in a must win game, they are taking arguably their weakest possible squad.
Saudi look sharp
Saudi Arabia look likely to collect all three points in this fixture. Despite only playing once this year, a victory over Kuwait this month, their domestic league is a third complete, meaning the vast majority of their players will come into this one fit and raring to go. The hosts are also allowed 40% stadium capacity tomorrow, which will be a definite advantage for Saudi Arabia.
This is reflected in their price at 1.4740/85, and this is where the same game multi option works a treat. With Palestine unlikely to offer much going forward, Saudi Arabia to win and under 3.5 goals at 2.001/1 looks the bet to be on.
A side bet, if you’re looking for more value, would be for Saudi Arabia to win 2-0 at 6.511/2.