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Xavi predicts clash of styles as Al Sadd face Al Nassr

Xavi predicts clash of styles 
as Al Sadd face Al Nassr

Tribune News Network
In what would be a mouth-watering clash of the 2020 AFC Champions League, twice semi-finalists Al Sadd will meet leaders Al Nassr FC in Group D at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Monday.
Al Nassr have already sealed qualification to the Round of 16 after collecting full points from their double header against Sepahan FC in the previous two matchdays, while Al Sadd came out of their own fixtures against Al Ain with four points, meaning they are a win away from advancing to the next round.
Coach Xavi Hernandez’s Al Sadd are the highest scoring team in the 2020 AFC Champions League so far, having netted 12 goals in their past four games, while only Al Hilal (2) have conceded less than Al Nassr’s three goals in West Asia.
Given the scenario, the Qatar club side will surely aim to go one up and seal their qualification in their penultimate group stage match.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Xavi said: “Al Nassr is one one of the best teams in the competition. We played them in the quarter-finals last year and also in February this year. But this time, it will be different. They have strengthened the team with new players, and they have an excellent striker – Abderrazak Hamdallah.”
“Our goal is to win and to qualify for the next round. We have to give our best, and we cannot relax, especially against these kind of teams. It could be one of the best games in the competition. It will be fantastic for the fans and also for the competition and hopefully, we can get three points.”
Asked about his side’s approach for the game, the coach said: “Al Nassr have a good defence and they have not conceded any goals here so far. But we have a good attack and our aim is to score more goals than our opponents.
“That is our way. They are good in defence, we are good in attack. We want to dominate, create chances to score. The players are comfortable with this way.”
Xavi, however, added that the team will have to excel both in attack and defence. “The challenge for us is to score and also take care of defence. This is what happened in the second game against Al Ain. The problem is not with the defence, the responsibility of not conceding lies with the entire team.”
He further added: “We made changes in the last two games, rotating players. We have 4 or 5 players who have played 90 minutes in both games. We can manage things with the substitutions. The players are in a good moment, physically and mentally. We are in our best conditions and we must use this opportunity.”
Finally, with regards to changes in Al Nassr’s gameplay compared to the previous year, Xavi said: “Al-Nassr’s style has not changed from last year. They are a good team and score a lot of goals. We are speaking of a strong team that is capable of reaching the semifinal, and so we must be well prepared.”
And while a place in the knock-out stage is already secured for head coach Rui Vitoria’s men, the Portuguese still relishes the challenge of testing his side against one of the best teams in the competition.
“We have sealed qualification, but Al Sadd still need a result here to qualify, though both teams are in a somewhat similar position. We want to keep winning to prove our quality and mentality,” said Vitoria.
“The game will be difficult because of the opposition’s quality. We have quality too, so we can expect a good game. We are aware of their individual and team attributes, so we will enjoy the game and hopefully get a good result. Our philosophies do not change, but we make minor tweaks to counter different opposition.”
“Both teams are big, both have some really good players, and both have a winning mentality. All my players are ready, and the line-up will be decided as we see fit technically,” said Vitoria.
The previous game between the two sides ended in a 2-2 draw on Matchday Two. Hamdallah’s early strike was cancelled out by teammate Abdulelah Al Amri’s own goal, before Hassan Al Haydos put Al Sadd ahead only to have Abdulrahman Al Obaid score the equaliser for Al Nassr five minutes later.