15 January 2019
The AFC Asian Cup hosts, the United Arab Emirates, prepare to take on a motivated Thailand side looking to cement the top place in Group A.
Arguably the best side in this respective group is also the only that is yet to suffer a failure. Al Abyad have started the tournament off on the wrong foot, dropping two points against Bahrain in a tense 1-1 draw that has seen them chasing Bahrain’s lead until the 88th minute. However, Eyal Zayed have managed to improve in the second match, securing a vital 2-0 victory over India. Alberto Zaccheroni’s defensive approach has seen just one of UAE’s last 11 games producing over 2.5 goals, with his players scoring under 1.5 goals per match seven times in that period. Still, the Italian heavily relies on his firm backline that has kept a clean sheet four times in the previous eight meetings, allowing over 1.5 goals per match twice in the process though.
Meanwhile, regardless of the outcome of the encounter between India and Bahrain, the War Elephants have a big chance to go past the group stage as the best third-placed team in case they manage to avoid defeat. After suffering a heavy 4-1 loss to India in the opener, Sirisak Yodyardthai’s men have endured a hard pressure from Bahrain to pick up a precious 1-0 victory in the second round. Still, Thailand’s backline will have to step up their game in this encounter, considering they’ve allowed over 1.5 goals per match three times in their last four outings. Also, a lack of creativity in the final third has seen the War Elephants struggling to find the net three times in the previous five meetings.
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