History beckons as Al Hilal, Urawa reunite in continental decider
Al Hilal and Urawa meet in repeat of 2017 AFC Champions League final
Saudi Arabian side entertain Japanese outfit in first leg of showpiece decider
Winner of two-legged Asian final secures FIFA Club World Cup berth
We're set to have a historic champion regardless of the result between Al Hilal and Urawa Red Diamonds in the 2019 AFC Champions League final. Both sides have enjoyed standing at the pinnacle of Asian football on two occasions: Al Hilal in 1991 and 2000, and Urawa in 2007 and 2017, though the Saudi Arabians are going for their first title since the Champions League was inaugurated in 2003.
Having crossed swords in the 2017 final, Al Hilal and Urawa are again pitted against each other in Asia’s showpiece decider. Urawa will no doubt be hoping to reproduce the form which saw them prevail 2-1 on aggregate at the expense of Al Hilal two years ago.
Who will prevail in the two-legged continental final and secure a berth at the Qatar 2019? FIFA.com looks ahead to the action.
Al Hilal-Urawa Red Diamonds
King Saud University Stadium, Riyadh
Saturday 9 November, 19:30 local time
Having drawn at home before losing away against Urawa two years ago, Al Hilal enter the rematch determined to avenge that aggregate loss. To upstage the rivals over two legs, Razvan Lucescu's men will be hoping to open with a bang – galvanised by their home support. They will also look to the formidable form of tournament top scorer Bafetimbi Gomis, who bagged six goals in the knockout stage.
Urawa, meanwhile, arrive in Riyadh hoping to continue their undefeated away record in the knockout stage. With veteran defender Tomoaki Makino bossing the backline, Tsuyoshi Otsuki's visitors will likely employ the familiar counter-attack game plan. If they succeed in keeping the hosts at bay, both Fabricio and Shinzo Koroki are more than capable of delivering the fatal strike.
Player to watch
With Fabricio and Koroki likely to be closely marked, young Daiki Hashioka may provide Urawa with fresh drive. A right full-back impressing with his attacking flair, the 20-year-old scored a brace in Urawa’s 3-0 victory against Buriram United, before setting up Koroki for the match-winner in the semi-final second leg against Guangzhou Evergrande.
23 – The number of goals Al Hilal have scored so far in this campaign, meaning the Saudi Arabian side go into the final as the tournament's top scorers.
What they said
"Urawa won it [AFC Champions League title] two years ago and Kashima last year. So, of course, there is some pressure in being representatives of Japan returning to the final. But we will try to embrace the pressure and rise to the challenge," Urawa defender Tomoaki Makino