AZ Alkmaar get their Europa League group stage campaign underway with a tricky trip to Serbia to face Partizan Belgrade.

az basakseAZ Alkmaar reached the competitions quarter finals during the 2013/14 season and John van den Brom will be hoping his side can once again reach the knockout stages after being drawn in a group with Serbian side Partizan Belgrade, Augsburg of Germany, and Spanish giants Athletic Bilbao.

Domestically AZ have had a poor start to the season, having finally earned their first win last weekend after seeing off bottom side De Graafschap 3-1, but in Europe the Alkmaar side have been impressive. AZ comfortably saw off Turkish side Basaksehir 4-1 in the third play-off round before beating Astra of Romania 4-3 on aggregate to reach the group stages.

Partizan Belgrade will be a step up in quality for AZ though, with the Serbian champions narrowly missing out on the Champions League group stages after an away goals defeat to BATE Borisov. Domestically Partizan have been disappointing so far and currently sit 4th after eight games. They go into the tie with AZ on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Crvena Zvezda.

Team News

AZ will be without midfielder Celso Ortiz and winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh through injury, but Rajko Brezancic and Ben Rienstra could make their European debut’s for the club.

Possible AZ line-up: Rochet, Johansson, Brezancic, Gouweleeuw, Van der Linden, Henriksen, Rienstra, Overeem, Dos Santos, Hupperts, Janssen

Possible Partizan line-up: Z Zivkovic, Balazic, Vulicevic, Cirkovic, Lekovic, Ilic, Babovic, Stevanovic, Brasanac, A Zivkovic, Oumarou

Key Players

henriksen bMarkus Henriksen

The attacking midfielder has started the season in great form, netting three times in the Eredivisie and adding another two goals in the Europa League qualifiers. Henriksen has great awareness around the box and if he can engineer a good shooting chance against Partizan Belgrade then he will be confident of taking it.

zivkoviAndrijia Zivkovic

Hailed as one of Serbia’s brightest young talents, Zivkovic was the youngest player ever to make his debut for the Serbian national team, while he is also the youngest to ever captain Partizan Belgrade. The right winger is linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs, and he has started this season in fine form with four goals and five assists in twelve matches.

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