How Al Hilal won the 2023/24 Roshn Saudi League title

It’s been known for some time, but now it’s official: Al Hilal are the 2023/24 Roshn Saudi League champions.

After their 4-1 victory against Al Hazem, they now hold an unassailable 12-point lead over second-placed Al Nassr, who they face next in what will nonetheless be a typically fierce Riyadh derby.

With the title secure, the work is still not over for Al Hilal, who are only three games away from an undefeated RSL season, one that will go down in the record books. While they couldn’t spoil their title charge, Al Nassr can certainly spoil their “Invincibles” season when they meet at Al Awwal Park in Matchweek 32 next week.

But, for now, all that can wait as Al Hilal celebrate a record-extending 19th league title. We take a look back at how the top-flight crown was won.

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Al Hilal are on course to complete the treble this season having already triumphed in the Saudi Super Cup


Beware the wounded monster.

After finishing third last season behind Al Ittihad and Al Nassr, 13 points off the pace for their worst campaign since 2014-15, the Riyadh giants were determined to right that wrong – and, thanks to some significant investment, set about re-shaping the squad.

As the transformation of the RSL happened before our eyes, Al Hilal made a number of smart moves in the transfer window to add strength and depth to their roster.

Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic were two astute signings, with the age profile, at 27 and 29 respectively, meaning they were getting players at the peak of their careers with plenty to offer in midfield.

Kalidou Koulibaly expertise at the back has been crucial to Al Hilal's dominant campaign (Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

At the back, Kalidou Koulibaly added years of experience to an already impressive defence, which was only strengthened further by the signing of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. The Moroccan, a star of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has proven his worth for the capital club by keeping 15 clean sheets already this season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, meanwhile, was a long-time target. Eventually, Al Hilal got their man after Fulham agreed to a deal for the Serbian in August, adding to an already potent attack.

Mitrovic has arguably settled better than any other summer addition in the entire league: he has 26 goals in 25 league appearances, second only to Al Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Aleksander Mitrovic has been unstoppable in front of goal (Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

However, the pièce de résistance came with the sensational capture of Brazilian superstar Neymar from PSG, with his arrival in Riyadh generating headlines all around the globe.

Unfortunately, though, Neymar has had more impact off the pitch in terms of raising Al Hilal’s standing and stature around the world. Brazil’s all-time leading scorer, he suffered a cruciate ligament injury while on international duty in October. Hence, he has been restricted to only three RSL matches for Al Hilal.

With the core of the Saudi Arabian national team already in place – led by reigning AFC Asian Player of the Year Salem Al Dawsari - Al Hilal had created a squad with all the necessary tools to make a serious tilt at the title.


When the popular Ramon Diaz was forced to leave Al Hilal for family reasons, the club began a worldwide search for his successor. It was one they hoped would return the club to the summit of Saudi Arabian and Asian football.

A host of names were linked with the role, such as then-AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho, but ultimately Al Hilal settled on a returning face in the form of Jorge Jesus.

The Portuguese, 69, was no stranger to Al Hilal. He had been in the hot-seat for seven months across 2018 and 2019, during which he won 16 of his 20 matches in charge.

Jorge Jesus has had an enjoyable second stint in charge (Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

Having managed both Benfica and Sporting CP in his native Portugal, as well as Flamengo and Fenerbahce in Brazil and Turkey, the promise of finishing what he started proved too alluring for Jesus.

He had enjoyed a long and luminous career; among other notable achievements, Jesus guided Flamengo to 2019 Copa Libertadores success, finished runner-up at that year's FIFA Club World Cup and both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 UEFA Europa League. He is three-time Primeira Liga winner with Benfica.

“I’m always happy to return where I was happy before,” he wrote on his Instagram announcing the deal to return to Riyadh.

Al Hilal have been happy to have him. Jesus has proved an astute choice, his demanding and dedicated nature blended brilliantly with a popularity with his players. He is a winner; with Jesus at the helm, Al Hilal have done just that.


The Roshn Saudi League has seen few seasons like the one Al Hilal have put together in the 2023-24 campaign.

They are, as it stands, undefeated after 31 matches, with a quite remarkable 29 wins and only two draws. With a record number of goals (95) and a record points (89), the current crop are etching their name in the RSL history books.

One could even argue such feats will be almost impossible to surpass in the future.

A surprise draw to Al Fayha on the day Neymar was unveiled in Riyadh in August was one of the rare blemishes on a near-perfect record this season. The only other dropped points also came early in the season, five matchweeks later, when they drew 1-1 with Damac.

Ruben Neves was one of the major signings ahead of the 2023/24 campaign (Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

Since that game, in Matchweek 7, Al Hilal have been pitch perfect. Saturday’s title-clinching triumph against Al Hazem lifted their win streak to 24 – extending another record set this season.

There were comprehensive wins, such as the 6-1 victory over Al Riyadh, the 9-0 in the corresponding fixture against Al Hazem, and the 7-0 at home to Abha.

Of course, there were tight wins, but significant all the same. Those include the incredible 4-3 comeback victory at then-champions Al Ittihad in Jeddah in Matchweek 5, or the 4-3 triumph against Riyadh rivals Al Shabab in March.

The December 1 defeat of Al Nassr, their city foes and closest challengers for the RSL crown, felt vital, too. Al Hilal came out on top 2-0, a result that not only earned Riyadh bragging rights, but put them seven points clear at the head of the standings.

While the stats almost make it look easy, the season hasn’t been without its hiccups, though. Most notably, the aforementioned loss of Neymar to a season-ending knee injury.

Al Hilal’s celebrated No.10 had only got going after his season start was delayed by a pre-existing injury, making his debut off the bench against Al Riyadh on September 15. For good measure, Neymar chipped in with an assist in the 6-1 win.

Two further matches followed, against Damac and Al Shabab, with another assist coming against the latter, as the forward appeared to be finding his groove.

Malcom has more than made up for the absence of his compatriot in front of goal (Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

Yet, even after the long-term injury, the Al Hilal machine rolled on regardless. Their momentum has never checked.

Even not when last month it was announced that Mitrovic would be out for six weeks with a hamstring injury. He missed three RSL matches, but the likes of Malcom in particular filled the void in exemplary fashion – the winger netted four times during that period.

Al Hilal had that intangible that can sometimes represent the key ingredient in elite-level sport. They had form, which in turn led to a steadfast confidence in their own ability.

Thus, their success has come not as a result of any one individual, but because of the strength of the team, of the collective. If one component is missing, another seamlessly takes its place.

Quite clearly, with a 19th RSL title theirs, Al Hilal are the definition of a great team.