Having eliminated very good Udinese side to reach the Europa League quarter-finals, AZ Alkmaar can feel optimistic before the first leg against out-of-form Valencia.
After deciding to cash in on several key players in the summer, the club chiefs opted against spending a lot of money on new players and they instead chose to rely on the talented footballers that were already in the squad.
It is for that reason that nobody expected AZ Alkmaar to fight for honours this term, but the Cheese Farmers largely impressed under coach Gertjan Verbeek and are now in a position to battle for two major trophies.
AZ lead the race in Dutch Eredivisie in front of such sides like Ajax, Twente, PSV and Feyenoord, while they are doing wonders in Europe as well.
Following the narrow escape in the group stage, Gertjan Verbeek’s side recorded a double win over Anderlecht in the first knockout round, before eliminating Serie A high-flyers Udinese in the last 16 stage.
Taking into account their recent performances, odds of 3.00 (2/1) offered by William Hill on AZ Alkmaar to go through could be worth a shot.
The hosts should have Roy Beerens back after recovering from a rib injury, but Nick Viergever is suspended after being sent off against Udinese.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Alvarado – Klavan, Marcelis, Moisander, Poulsen – Elm, Maher, Holman – Beerens, Altidore, Maartens.
Valencia enjoyed a lot of success during the first part of the season as they appeared to have made the third place in La Liga their own, although they did miss out on a place in the Champions League knockout stages.
Los Che, nonetheless, largely impressed in Europa League, easily eliminating Stoke and PSV Eindhoven, but their domestic form has suffered a great deal of late.
While the 3-0 victory at San Mames looked to have put the team back on track, back to back defeats to Real Zaragoza and Getafe acted as real blows to team’s Champions League ambitions, seeing that los Che are now just three points clear of fifth-placed Levante.
Coach Unai Emery is under extreme pressure at the moment and he is fighting to save his job, so we can expect him to field his strongest line-up in Alkmaar. Valencia are priced at 2.70 (17/10) with Sportingbet to win this game.
Adil Rami misses out through suspension, whereas Ever Banega, Miguel Brito and Sergio Canales are out through injury.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Diego Alves – Bruno, Costa, Ruiz, Alba – Costa, Albelda – Hernandez, Jonas, Mathieu – Soldado.