AZ Alkmaar’s season officially gets underway on Wednesday when they face Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League second qualifying round. Kick-off at the AFAS Stadion is at 3.30 pm UK time.

Despite finishing on the same number of points as Ajax, AZ Alkmaar were awarded second spot in the abandoned Eredivisie campaign, due to their inferior goal difference.

That means AZ now need to get through three qualifying rounds to reach the Champions League group stages. First up is a clash with Czech side Viktoria Plzen in Alkmaar on Wednesday.

Arne Slot has been unable to add any new signings to his squad yet, but has also not lost any key players, except for centre-back Stijn Wuytens. However, their pre-season form has been dreadful, winning only one of six games.

Slot states their pre-season form is due to their choice of tougher opponents, “My players are getting closer and closer to their form. Wednesday should be our best match. We made a conscious decision not to play against amateur clubs, but under increased resistance.”

Viktoria Plzen qualified for the Champions League after finishing 2nd in the Czech First division. Their league campaign kicked off last Friday with a 3-1 win over Opava.

The game is a one off clash and not two-legged. The winner will progress and the loser drop into the Europa League third qualifying round.

Team news

Slot has been sweating over the fitness of key attacker Calvin Stengs, who has missed every pre-season game. However, he is set to be part of the squad on Wednesday and will probably start on the bench.

Slot is also hoping to have Fredrik Midtso back for the game, while Ron Vlaar is also fit. Teun Koopmeiners is likely to start at centre-back.

Pantellis Hatzidiakos is still a long term injury absentee.

Possible AZ line-up: Bizot, Svensson, Wijndal, Leeuwin, Koopmeiners, Clasie, Midtso, De Wit, Idrissi, Gudmundsson, Boadu

Possible Viktoria Plzen line-up: Hruska, Reznik, Limbersky, Brabec, Hedja, Kovarik, Kopic, Cermak, Kalvach, Bucha, Beauguel

Odds

AZ 10/11 Draw 5/2 Viktoria Plzen 5/2

Can AZ Alkmaar prevail?

Slot will be worried by AZ’s form in pre-season, the fitness of Calvin Stengs and the club’s inability to sign a centre-back, which was crucial going into such an important game.

However, the draw has been kinder to AZ than it could have been and they will be favourites against Viktoria Plzen.

The Dutch side needs to click in front of goal if they are going to progress to the next round, though, with Boadu and Idrissi misfiring in pre-season so far.

If AZ fail to make it through then it will be seen as a big chance wasted by the Dutch club, who aim to once again challenge for the Eredivisie title this season.




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