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Preview: Leaders Ahly face toughest league test yet against in-form Ittihad

Ittihad, who lost just once this season, take on a powerful Ahly side that won their opening seven matches in the Egyptian Premier League on Monday

Ahram Online , Sunday 22 Dec 2019
Ahly
File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Ahly and Ittihad (Ahram)
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Ahly will be looking to further extend their lead on top of the Egyptian Premier League table when they meet surprise package Ittihad of Alexandria, who stunned observers with a superb start to the season.

Ittihad recovered from an opening 1-0 loss to Zamalek to register six wins and only two draws, scoring 12 goals and conceding five.

With wily coach Talaat Youssef imposing his trademark cautious tactics, Ittihad look largely solid. The question is now whether they can continue that run and compete for the second place, which earns qualification to the lucrative African Champions League.

They now lie second in the table with 20 points, one behind Ahly who have two matches in hand.

Ittihad could prove stubborn opponents to Ahly, although the Red Devils will still be firm favourites to win after making their best start to a season in more than a decade.

Ahly won their opening seven matches, at times securing comprehensive wins. They also conceded just one goal.

However, the Cairo giants were made to sweat in their previous two games, earning hard-fought 1-0 wins over Haras El-Hodoud and Ismaily after the latter duo adopted defensive tactics that left their illustrious opponents struggling to create enough clear-cut chances.

"Tomorrow's match will be difficult because of Ittihad's current impressive results and displays," said Ahly's football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz.

"Actually all our games are difficult; the league teams are getting better and better."

Ahly welcome back central midfielder Amr El-Sulaya and versatile right-back Ahmed Fathi after they sat out the victory over Ismaily due to injuries. They will miss injured defender Rami Rabia and influential winger Ramadan Sobhi. 

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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