The international break is now in the rear-view mirror and our attention returns to club matters, with Thursday’s Football Bet of the Day focusing on an intriguing encounter in the Saudi Pro League between Al-Akhdoud and Al-Ittihad.

Football Bet of the Day – Thursday

  • Abderrazak Hamdallah to score first in Al-Akhdoud vs Al-Ittihad @ 16/5

Visitors Al-Ittihad are the defending champions and they have made a strong start to their title defence, winning four of their opening five games, although their sole defeat did come in their last fixture – a 4-3 home reverse against an Aleksandar Mitrovic-inspired Al-Hilal.

Much of Al-Ittihad’s early season success has been built on their strong attacking output, as their tally of 15 goals from their opening five fixtures cannot be beaten by anyone in the division.

It is no surprise that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have been so effective in the final third, as their attack is spearheaded by former Real Madrid star Karim Benzema.

However, Benzema has only scored twice in the league since his high-profile arrival over the summer, with other players within the Al-Ittihad squad instead stepping up to the plate, most notably Moroccan forward Abderrazak Hamdallah.

Hamdallah was the Pro League’s top scorer last season, snaring 21 goals, and he has started the current campaign in the same manner, striking five times in as many games.

If the 32-year-old had been feeling the pressure following the arrival of former Ballon d’Or winner Benzema then he certainly hasn’t been shown it, retaining his place in Nuno’s starting line up in every match to date.

Having been an unused substitute for Morocco over the international break, a refreshed Hamdallah will hope to keep his place in the starting XI for Thursday’s trip to the Prince Hathloul bin Abdul Aziz Sports City to take on Al-Akhdoud and that will increase his chances of scoring the game’s first goal.

Hamdallah is no stranger to opening the scoring in matches, he has done exactly that twice already for Al-Ittihad this season, including in last month’s away victory at Al-Raed.

The former Al-Nassr forward is 16/5 to score first on Thursday and he will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing an Al-Akhdoud side that have lost both their home matches since last season’s promotion to the top flight.

Jorge Mendonca’s side did pick up their first win of the season away to Al-Riyadh before the international break, keeping a clean-sheet, but that is the only shutout they have managed all term.

Thursday’s match should mark a return to winning ways for defending champions Al-Ittihad, who will also move to the top of the standings, temporarily at least, with a positive result in Najran, and it would be no surprise to see Hamdallah set them on their way.

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