AZ Alkmaar head to Serbia for a tie with Partizan Belgrade to begin their Europa League group campaign. Kick-off is at 8pm.

AZ Alkmaar are back in the group stages of the Europa League after sweeping past BK Hacken, Mariupol, and Antwerp in the qualifying rounds.

The draw matched Arnie Slot’s exciting side with Manchester United, Astana and Thursday’s opponents Partizan Belgrade.

Slot believes his side can battle for 2nd place, “We can compete with Astana and Partizan for second place. If we want to, we will have to show it to Partizan in particular on Thursday. ”

AZ head to Serbia on the back of an outstanding 5-1 victory over Sparta Rotterdam with their attacking trio of Calvin Stengs, Myron Boadu and Oussama Idrissi all in great form.

Opponents Partizan Belgrade, who finished third in Serbia last season, are a regular in the Europa League, overcoming Connah’s Quay, Yeni Malatyaspor and Molde to reach the group stages.

Partizan have made a good start to their league campaign with four wins and two draws from their opening six games. At the weekend they dispatched Proleter Novi Sad 3-0.

The match on Thursday will be played in an empty stadium after UEFA sanctions on Partizan Belgrade for crowd trouble.

Slot believes the lack of home fans could be an advantage for his side, “If it is full of fanatic supporters here, it will make a difference,” Slot told FOX Sports. ‘The flip side is that you want to play European football for that different atmosphere and experience than in the Netherlands. We are not experiencing that now, but looking purely at the result it is an advantage that their fans are not there. ”

Team News

Slot has no fresh injury concerns after the victory over Sparta at the weekend and may decide to stick with the same eleven.

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

Former Liverpool, Sporting and Fenerbahce midfielder Lazar Markovic joined Partizan this summer and he will be the danger man for the club against PSV.

16-year-old forward Filip Stevanovic has been a revelation with four goals in five games. Former NAC Breda forward Umar Sadiq should also feature.

Possible Partizan line-up: Stojkovic, Brezancic, Miletic, Vujacic, Pavlovic, Natcho, Markovic, Tosic, Zdjelar, Stefanovic, Sadiq


Partizan 29/20 Draw 9/4 AZ 15/8

Can AZ start with a victory?

A trip to Serbia is a tough start for AZ and they will need to be at their best to see of a very talented Partizan side, who have made an impressive start to the season.

Slot’s side have been a joy to watch in the Eredivisie so far with Stengs, Boadu and Idrissi’s partnership bearing fruit. If the three remain on form then AZ can achieve a result on Thursday.

Ron Vlaar has also been a rock solid at the back for AZ, while Teun Koopmeiners is pulling the strings in midfield.

With tough ties to come against Manchester United, an away draw would be an excellent start for AZ.

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