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Benzema’s new team is stronger than Ronaldo’s. And Karim’s coach will be the former Dynamo goalkeeper

Date: February 23, 2024 Time: 12:48:06

Karim Benzema followed Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia. However, the current owner of the Ballon d’Or has moved to another club – Al-Ittihad from Jeddah. Let’s meet the new team of the French striker, who, by the way, beat Ronaldo’s Al-Nasr for the 2022/2023 gold medals.

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Recently, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, created on behalf of the government to invest funds, announced the acquisition of the country’s four largest football clubs: Al-Nasra, Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal. The Public Investment Fund already owns one of the best clubs in Europe, Newcastle, and will now continue to attract world soccer stars to Saudi Arabia. In fact, the fund will be signed and distributed among the teams by players of the stature of Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Benzema.

Obviously, the Frenchman chose Al-Ittihad, since this is the champion of the country, which will play not only in the Asian Champions League, but also in the Club World Cup in December 2023. For the blacks and yellows, this gold was the first since 2009 and the ninth in the 95 years of the club’s existence. By the way, the oldest in the country. Interestingly, when Ronaldo arrived in Saudi Arabia, the championship table was headed by Al-Nasr, but the Jeddah team wiped the nose of the competitor and the superstar of him.

Al-Ittihad have won 15 of their 18 league games since mid-January. Surpassed even “Al-Nasr” with Cristiano in his field – 1:0. By the way, at the end of January, Al-Ittihad also won the Saudi Arabian Super Cup, defeating Al-Nasr (3:1) on the way to the trophy in the semifinals. After that match, the black-and-yellow fans provoked Ronaldo with shouts of “Messi! Messi!

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Al Ittihad

Photo: Khalid Alhaj/Getty Images

Al Ittihad play their home games at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium. This is a multifunctional stadium and sports complex located 30 km north of Jeddah. The second largest stadium in Saudi Arabia: the stands have a capacity for 62,345 spectators. The stadium was inaugurated in 2014.

The best period in the history of Al-Ittihad is the mid-2000s. Then the black and yellow won the Asian Champions League twice in a row. Especially impressive was the two-match final against the South Korean Seongnam in 2004. At home, the Jeddah team lost – 1:3, having conceded the first goal of the Russian legionnaire “Sonam” Denis Laktionov. But on the way, Al-Ittihad defeated the opponent with a score of 5:0!

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It is Al-Ittihad that is considered the most popular club in the country. The most important matches for the black and white are the derby against Al-Ahly. These are your neighbors from Jeddah. Saudi Arabia also has its own “Classic”: Al-Ittihad’s matches with Al-Hilal, which represents the country’s capital, Riyadh.

We add that in the 1990s, Russian legionnaires – former CSKA players Vladimir Tatarchuk and Oleg Sergeev – played for Al-Ittihad. And in the 2018/2019 season, the team was led by the former Lokomotiv coach Slaven Bilic. However, the Croatian lasted only four and a half months in Jeddah.

Who else from the legionnaires plays in Al-Ittihad?

Al Ittihad’s most famous figure is not one of the players, but the current head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo. The whole world knows the 49-year-old Portuguese as a former Tottenham and Wolverhampton manager, and we also remember him as a Dinamo goalkeeper. In 2005, Nunu made a living playing in Russia, although he made only 12 appearances for the Moscow team.

The Portuguese had enough season to build a champion team. Nuno took charge of Al Ittihad in July 2022, winning 26 of 35 matches and two trophies with him. Only the Cup of Saudi Arabia was not presented – the black and yellow flew in the semifinals of Al-Hilal. In March and April, Nuno was recognized as the coach of the month in the championship.

Each club in the top division can have eight legionnaires, but for some reason only seven are allowed to be included in the application for the match. Al-Ittihad has completely chosen the quota. Four Brazilians play in the Jeddah team: goalkeeper Marcelo Groe (estimated at €600,000, according to Transfermarkt), midfielders Igor Coronado (€6 million, the club’s most expensive player) and Bruno Enrique (€700,000), as well as striker Romarinho (4.5 million euros). By the way, Marcelo Grohe has little experience playing for the Brazilian national team.

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Al-Ittihad also has two players from the Egyptian national team: defender Ahmed Hegazi (2.5 million euros) and midfielder Tarek Hamed (600 thousand euros). In addition to them, the yellow and white candidacy includes the Angolan winger Elder Costa (3.5 million euros) and the Moroccan striker Abderrazak Hamdalla (3 million euros).

Just Hamdallah is the best sniper in Al-Ittihad. He scored 21 goals in the Saudi Arabian championship and won the goalscoring race. Romarinho also reached the top 7 with 13 goals. Igor Coronado is the second assistant in the league with 13 assists. The goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe distributed the most cracks (18). Overall, Al-Ittihad conceded just 13 goals in 30 matchdays. The most reliable defense in the league was made by the black and yellow champion of Saudi Arabia.

Benzema will be the new star of Al-Ittihad. Obviously, his appearance in the team will force the leadership of the Jeddah club to get rid of someone from the Hamdalla-Romarinho duo. Karim will most likely not be the last famous player to join the black and yellow team in the summer of 2023. Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante is rumored to be in talks. Messi was also associated with Al-Ittihad, but now Leo is being “sent” to Al-Hilal.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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