AZ Alkmaar host Ukrainian side Mariupol on Thursday looking to book their place in the Europa League playoff round. Kick-off in the Hague is at 7.30pm BST.

Last week in Ukraine, AZ Alkmaar were dominant but they could not take their chances and Mariupol escaped with a 0-0 draw. That leaves the second leg finely poised with Mariupol knowing an away goal for them could be crucial.

AZ boss Arnie Slot is expecting his opponents to sit deep and try and hit them on the counter attack, “In Odessa we saw that they tried to put pressure on us in the initial phase, but that they subsequently started to hang more in front of their own goal. I expect the same game image tomorrow, with a Mariupol side gambling on the counter. ”

Unfortunately for AZ, the game will be played at ADO Den Haag’s Cars Jeans Stadion on artificial turf because their AFAS Stadion is unusable. The roof collapsed under heavy winds last week and is currently undergoing repairs to improve it’s safety.

At the weekend, AZ Alkmaar continued their good form in the league with a comfortable 2-0 win at RKC Waalwijk. Opponents, Mariupol were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Karpaty.

The winner of this tie will face either Antwerp or Viktoria Plzen in the next round. The Belgian side currently leads 1-0 heading into the second leg.

Team News

AZ Alkmaar have no fresh injury concerns since the first-leg and Arnie Slot is not set to make any changes.

The front three of Calvin Stengs, Myron Boadu and Oussama Idrissi have begun the season in great form and they will look to fire AZ into the next round on Thursday.

Possible AZ line-up: Bizot, Svensson, Wijndal, Vlaar, Wuytens, Ouwejan, Midtso, Koopmeiners, Stengs, Idrissi, Boadu

Several of Mariupol’s starters from the first-leg were rested at the weekend but they could return to the line-up that held AZ Alkmaar to a 0-0 draw.

Possible Mariupol line-up: Khudzhamov, Polehenko, Chobotenko, Bykov, Federchuk, Tyshchencko, Churko, Myshnov, Gurbunov, Chekh, Vakula

Odds

AZ Alkmaar 1/6 Draw 5/1 Mariupol 14/1

What to expect from the second leg

AZ Alkmaar have been an absolute joy to watch so far this season and hopefully they can retain their European status on Thursday.

Mariupol will be looking to frustrate the hosts and grab a crucial away goal on the counter attack. Slot will need to ensure his side takes control from the start and that they take the chances which they missed last week.

Boadu, Idrissi and Stengs are key for the home side and if they maintain their excellent form then AZ Alkmaar should have too much for Mariupol.




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