(MENAFN - Gulf Times) It will be a battle of familiar opponents when Al Sadd face Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr in Group D of the 2021 AFC Champions League on Saturday.
The two faced at the same stage last year, with the matches ending 1-1 and 2-2, as both advanced to the Round of 16.
That, however, is not the case this year with only the group winners confirmed of going through, with the three best second-placed teams from the five West groups also advancing.
Al Nassr were denied an opening day win by tournament debutants Al Wehdat on Wednesday, with the hosts frustrated despite controlling 67 percent of possession.
Such domination may not be possible against the Xavi-led Al Sadd but with newly-appointed head coach Mano Menezes having seen his team in action, the Al Nassr will not be lacking in confidence when they play the Qatar Stars League champions.
'The first round of matches ended with draws, so naturally all the teams will be more competitive to get the win now, said Menezes.
'We coaches know the expectations of fans are high, and we will need some time to fill in the gaps.
'There are three things that we will need to focus on. Firstly, we need to close the distance between our defence and attack. Secondly, we need to be able to regain possession quickly, and lastly, to be more organised in our attacks.
Al Sadd also endured a tough opener, with Boualem Khoukhi's last gasp goal salvaging a point for them against Iran's Foolad Khouzestan on Wednesday.
While Barcelona legend Xavi was not pleased with the result, he welcomed Al Sadd's willingness to fight till the end and will expect a more potent outing from Baghdad Bounedjah and his teammates at the King Saud University Stadium.
'We expect a really tough game against one of the best clubs in my opinion, said Xavi. 'We played against them twice so we know. The target doesn't change, we are still aiming for all three points.
Xavi wasn't worried about Menezes taking charge of Al Nassr, saying: 'Not expecting much changes to the way they play. They are more or less the same team.
'We trust in our own process and players, and we have to keep going.
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