AZ - Valencia Preview: Gertjan Verbeek's side look to keep unbeaten European home record intact against beleaguered Los Che
The Eredivisie leaders will aim to take a lead to Spain for the second leg but will be wary of a backlash from Unai Emery's men, who are under pressure after a poor run of results
By Karthick Arvinth
Marcellis, Moisander, Klavan, Poulsen
Elm, Martens, Maher
Gudmundsson, Altidore, Holman
Barragan, Ruiz, Dealbert, Mathieu
Albelda, T Costa
Feghouli, Jonas, Alba
Striker Roy Beerens (ribs) is the only injury doubt for AZ as they prepare for Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first leg against Valencia at the AFAS Stadion. Coach Gertjan Verbeek will be forced into making a change in defence, though, as Nick Viergever is suspended, following his dismissal against Udinese in the previous round.
Jozy Altidore, who came off the bench to set up Johann Gudmundsson's winner against RKC Waalwijk at the weekend, could be restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Charlison Benschop.
For Valencia Adil Rami is suspended after being sent off in the previous round against PSV, but striker Roberto Soldado returns after a one-match ban. Miguel, Ever Banega and Sergio Canales are all out injured for the Spanish side, who should recall David Albelda and Tino Costa to the starting XI after the duo were rested on the bench for Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Getafe.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- AZ are unbeaten in seven European home games this season, winning five times and drawing twice.
- The Eredivisie leaders have never lost to Spanish opponents at home. Their overall record in seven outings is three wins, three draws and one defeat.
- Jozy Altidore (pictured right) played for Spanish club Villarreal for three years between 2008 and 2011 and in November 2008 became the first American to score in La Liga.
- Valencia have won just three of their 13 La Liga matches played in 2012.
- Los Che are unbeaten against Dutch opposition in 10 outings, recording four wins and six draws.
- Roberto Soldado has netted four times in his last three games for Valencia.
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Top 3 Predictions
AZ 1-2 Valencia CF
- 16.45 %
AZ 1-1 Valencia CF
- 12.55 %
AZ 2-1 Valencia CF
- 10.61 %
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Apr 5, 2012||Valencia CF 4 - AZ 0|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Mar 29, 2012||AZ 2 - Valencia CF 1|
|Mar 16, 2014||Twente 2 - AZ 1||NED1|
|Mar 13, 2014||AZ 1 - Anzhi Makhachkala 0||EL|
|Mar 8, 2014||AZ 4 - Heracles Almelo 0||NED1|
|Mar 2, 2014||AZ 4 - RKC 0||NED1|
|Feb 27, 2014||AZ 1 - FC Slovan Liberec 1||EL|
|20||Aritz Aduriz Zubeldia||Striker|
The powerfully-built American has enjoyed a solid debut season in the Netherlands, bagging 14 goals in all competitions for table-topping AZ. After a largely forgettable three-year stint at Villarreal during which he was loaned out to a host of clubs, the 22-year-old will relish the chance to impress against La Liga opposition and prove a point or two to his former employers.
With 27 goals for club and country this season, the former Getafe man has been rightly billed as one of Europe's most feared strikers at present. However, the Spaniard has been isolated up front when playing the lone striker role in recent matches and will need better service from the likes of Alba and Feghouli to snap Valencia out of their slump.
After embarrassing losses to Real Zaragoza and Getafe over the past week, the writing seems to be on the wall for Emery, unless he can mastermind European success to appease the demanding Los Che faithful. Rami's absence is a big blow for the Mestalla side, though, and the hosts will fancy their chances of taking a lead to Spain for the second leg.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed