AZ Alkmaar need a victory in Croatia against HNK Rijeka to seal their place in the last 16 of the Europa League. Kick-off is at 5.55pm.

Last week, AZ gave themselves a chance of reaching the last 16 with a 1-1 draw against Napoli. They now need to beat HNK Rijeka on Thursday to confirm their spot, but a draw is also enough should Napoli defeat Real Socieded in Italy.

A lot has happened to AZ since the draw against Napoli with Arne Slot being sacked after holding talks with Feyenoord. Pascal Jansen steps in until the end of the season but he did not have a good start with AZ losing 2-1 at home to Groningen on Sunday, their first defeat in the league this season.

Jansen is hoping his side can put a turbulent week behind them, “A lot has happened in recent days, but our answer is on the field.”

Opponents HNK Rijeka, who are out of the Europa League whatever happens, warmed up for the game with a 2-1 win over Hadjuk Split. They now sit fourth in their league table.

The reverse fixture in Alkmaar finished 4-1 to AZ with Albert Gudmundsson, Teun Koopmeiners and Jesper Karlsson scoring.

Team News

Dani de Wit has traveled with the squad but the midfielder is a major doubt for the game with an injury. Jonas Svensson and Jordy Clasie are both out of the game.

Possible AZ line-up: Bizot, Sugawara, Wijndal, Hatzidiakos, Martins Indi, Midtso, Koopmeiners, Gudmundsson, Karlsson, Stengs, Boadu

HNK Rijeka will be without Milan Ristovski through injury, and it remains to be seen whether coach Simon Rozman may decide whether to rest some players ahead of a more crucial league game.

Possible HNK Rijeka: Nevistic; Tomecak, Escoval, Velkoski, Smolcic, Braut; Muric, Cerin, Loncar, Stefulj; Andrijasevic

Odds

HNK Rijeka 9/1 Draw 4/1 AZ 1/3

Can AZ Alkmaar progress?

AZ Alkmaar may be a club in some turmoil at the moment after the sacking of Slot last week, but their Europa League fate is very much in their own hands.

HNK Rijeka have struggled in the competition and have nothing to play for on Thursday. If AZ Alkmaar don’t win then it is a massive opportunity missed for the Dutch side.

A draw is also enough should Napoli prove too good for Real Sociedad in the other game.

If AZ go out then Pascal Jansen is already under huge pressure after only two games.




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