Neymar, Benzema, and Ronaldo Set for Debut in Asian Champions League Showdowns


The Saudi Pro League is set to showcase its shining stars on the grand stage of the Asian Champions League, as Neymar, Benzema, and Ronaldo gear up for their inaugural appearances. The thrilling group stage draw revealed the exciting matchups that await football enthusiasts across Asia.

Neymar’s journey into the Asian Champions League commences as his Al-Hilal squad, last season’s runners-up, faces Iran’s Nassaji Mazandaran FC, India’s Mumbai City FC, and Uzbekistan’s Navbahor. This marks the onset of an exciting new chapter for the Brazilian sensation in the realm of Asian club football.

Additionally, Al-Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Ittihad’s Karim Benzema are poised to make their marks in the group stage. Their respective teams are determined to navigate a path to victory, facing opponents hailing from various parts of central and eastern Asia.

Amidst Saudi Arabia’s flourishing sports investments, the nation’s robust oil wealth has driven a dynamic acquisition strategy aimed at diversifying the economy, attracting tourism, and fostering investment.

A powerhouse in the AFC Champions League, Al-Hilal boasts an impressive four title victories. Bolstered by the exuberant flair of Neymar in the 2023-24 season, they strive to capture a record fifth title.

Al-Nassr, semifinalists in the 2020 and 2021 editions, gear up to clash with Iran’s Persepolis FC, Al-Duhail SC of Qatar, and Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol. Their journey underscores their determination to make a significant impact on the continental stage.

Meanwhile, Saudi Pro League champions Al-Ittihad are fueled by aspirations of clinching their first Asian Champions League title since their consecutive triumphs in 2004 and 2005. With the additions of French luminaries Benzema and N’Golo Kante, Al-Ittihad aims to rekindle its former glory.

The defending champions, Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan, set their sights on a victorious quest from the competition’s eastern division. They confront opponents including China’s Wuhan Three Towns FC, Pohang Steelers of South Korea, and Vietnam’s Hanoi FC.

In a notable update, the introduction of a video assistant referee (VAR) system from the group stage enhances the competition’s fairness and accuracy.

The group stage action is set to unfold from September 18 to December 13, with the knockout stage commencing on February 12. The culmination of the thrilling journey will be a two-leg final scheduled for May 11 and 18, 2024.

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