Dubai: Al Hilal will be seeking revenge over Flamengo when the two sides meet in the Club World Cup semi-final on Tuesday at Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier.
The teams met at the same stage of the 2019 tournament with Flamengo winning 3-1 after Al Hilal had taken a 1-0 lead. But in the final, the Brazilians lost 1-0 against Liverpool.
At the weekend the Saudi Arabian club needed a late penalty from Mohamed Kanno to level their second-round encounter with hosts Wydad AC and then advanced after a shootout.
Ramon Diaz’s men had dug deep against the Casablanca outfit and caught a break in injury time, as a handball in the box from Yahia Attiyat Allah enabled them to force extra time from the spot, while the Moroccan would also be the only player to miss in the shootout, sending Wydad to defeat.
Their victory sees them reach the semi-finals of this tournament for the third time in four seasons, giving them an opportunity to become the first club from the Saudi Pro League to ever reach the final and the first one from Asia to get there since Kishima Antlers made it in 2016.
Meanwhile, it has been over a decade since a Brazilian team won the competition when Corinthians upset Chelsea in 2012. Flamengo, the reigning Copa Libertadores champions, have a chance to rectify that. They will be boosted by the fact that in 18 previous editions of this tournament, a team from South America have made it to the final on 13 occasions.
This season in the Saudi Pro League Al Hilal have only suffered one defeat and are sitting in fourth in the table two points back of leaders Al Nassr. They have found the back of the net in all but one competitive fixture this year and have not been shut out of a league encounter since drawing 0-0 at Al Ettifaq last October.
Kanno is suspended for this encounter after receiving a second caution early into extra time last weekend and Diaz may make changes to his starting 11 with Odion Ighalo and Marega pushing for a starting spot.
But Flamengo know what it takes to win in the knockout stage, having made so many deep runs in South American club competitions of late, and with a solid back four and sharp attack, they could prove too much for Al Hilal.