AZ Alkmaar are in Belgium for the first leg of their Europa Conference League quarter-final against Anderlecht on Thursday. Kick off is 20:00 BST.

AZ Alkmaar breezed through the Europa Conference League group stage and then they saw off Italian side Lazio to reach the last eight. A 2-1 in in Rome was followed by a 2-1 win in Alkmaar.

Pascal Jansen’s side will fancy their chances of winning the competition but they must overcome Belgian side Anderlecht to reach the last four. The Pro League side finished second in their group and overcame Ludogorets and then Villarreal to book their place in the quarter-finals.

The game comes at a sticky time for AZ, who have gone three games without a win since they defeated Lazio. At the weekend, they created plenty of chances against Sparta Rotterdam but were defeated 1-0.

Anderlecht, on the other hand, are unbeaten in six matches, but they could only draw 0-0 with Westerlo at the weekend, leaving them 9th in the league.

Team News

AZ has been boosted by the return of Jesper Karlsson, who missed the loss to Sparta, while Vangelis Pavlidis will return to the starting line-up.

Bruno Martins Indi, Dani de Wit, Maxim Dekker and Zinho Vanheusden remain out of action though.

Possible AZ line-up: Ryan, Sugawara, Kerkez, Hatzidiakos, Beukema, Reijnders, Clasie, Mijnans, Karlsson, Odgaard, Pavlidis

Oustanding young Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen is a big reason why Anderlecht have reached the last eight and he will be looking to impress a possibly watching Ronald Koeman.

Midfielder Yari Verschaeren is out injured which is a big blow to the Belgian side. However, ex-Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen and ex-Heerenveen midfielder Anders Dreyer are likely to start.

Possible Anderlecht line-up: Verbruggen; Murillo, Debast, Vertonghen, N’Daiye; Ashimeru, Diawara, Arnstad; Dreyer, Slimani, Amuzu

Odds

Anderlecht 163/100 Draw 21/10 AZ Alkmaar 9/5

Can AZ take a lead back to the Netherlands?

AZ Alkmaar have a great chance of reaching the last four of this competition and a win in Belgium would set them on course for the semi-finals.

However, Anderlecht are hard to beat and they are strong defensively with Verbruggen in excellent form. AZ will need to hope for some magic from Karlsson and Pavlidis to see them through.

The form at the back is a concern for Jansen but it should be a tight and entertaining game on Thursday. Hopefully, AZ will boost the coefficient with a victory.




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