Al-Hilal will face Inter Miami in the opening round of the 2024 Riyadh Season Cup on Monday at the Kingdom Arena.
The Blue Waves have enjoyed a great campaign so far this season, but have been sidelined since December as the league enjoys its winter break. They beat Al-Fayha 2-0 in their last match, with Ali Abdulayhi scoring the opening goal of the game in the 86th minute, before former Fulham player Aleksandar Mitrovic doubled their advantage from the spot deep in extra time.
Inter Miami, meanwhile, are preparing for the new season after a disappointing finish to the finish. However, their pre-season campaign did not go according to plan. They opened with a 2-1 loss to New York City FC and a goalless draw against El Salvador before losing 1-0 to Dallas on Tuesday.
After Monday’s game, the two teams will face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr next month before the Royals return to competitive action and the Herons begin their MLS pre-season campaign in Asia.
The main fitness concern that has been hanging over Al Hilal since October comes in the form of a certain Brazilian playmaker. Neymar was sidelined for Brazil last year with a season-ending knee injury.
Neymar is joined in the hospital by long-term absentee Muteb Al Mufarrij, while former first-choice goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais is struggling with a back injury.
Al Owais has not been offered a minute of league action this season following the arrival of World Cup semi-finalist Yassin Bounou. However, rather than visiting Messi and co., the Moroccan representative will prepare for the knockout stages of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. Center back Kalidou Koulibaly is also out with defending African champions Senegal.
At least nine Al Hilal players are part of Roberto Mancini’s squad for the ongoing Asian Cup. Saudi Arabia will face the favored South Korean side in the Round of 16 on Tuesday afternoon.
Inter Miami have lost energetic midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi to a sports hernia for at least two months, joined by Ian Fray, Franco Negri and Corentin Jean.
Martino has started his “Fab Four” of Messi, Suarez, Busquets and Alba in each of the club’s friendlies, but manages the aging quartet’s minutes. The Barcelona old boys will almost certainly line up in Miami on Monday but will be on the bench until the final whistle.
Inter Miami possible lineup:
Callender; Yedlin, Aviles, Kryvstov, Allen, Alba; Gressel, Busquets, Ruiz; Luis Suarez, Leo Messi.
Al Hilal possible lineup:
Al-Wutaian; Al-Mufarrij, Jahfali, Al-Shahrani, Lodi; Al-Juwayr, Neves, Milinkovic-Savic; Malcolm, Mitrovic, Michael