Your in-depth guide to AZ Alkmaar v United
Manchester United travel to the Netherlands to face AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League tomorrow.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of our second match in Group L, including kick-off times, where the game is being held and which opposition players you should look out for.
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE GAME?
Subscribers to MUTV can view all the build-up to the game through our Match Day show from 16:30 BST, followed by comprehensive live radio commentary. As usual, we’ll be providing in-depth coverage on ManUtd.com and the Official App, where you can track live data and player statistics in the Match Centre.
IS IT BEING SHOWN ON TV?
Yes, the match will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2 in the UK, with kick-off taking place in the Netherlands at 17:55 BST. As usual, MUTV will be showing all the action the following day.
WHERE’S THE GAME BEING PLAYED?
AZ are currently unable to host league and European matches at their usual AFAS Stadium home after the roof of the venue partially collapsed in August due to high winds, so Thursday’s fixture is being held at the Cars Jeans Stadium in The Hague. Located around 50 miles south of Alkmaar, the stadium was built in 2007 and usually hosts AZ’s Eredivisie rivals ADO Den Haag. Able to accommodate 15,000 people, it is one of two venues in Group L with an artificial playing surface, along with Astana Arena in Kazakhstan.
WHAT’S THE TEAM NEWS?
Anthony Martial will be missing for the Reds with a hamstring injury, while Luke Shaw (also hamstring), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (illness), Diogo Dalot and Angel Gomes are all doubts for the trip to the Netherlands. Martial and Shaw haven’t played since the Crystal Palace defeat in August, while Wan-Bissaka, Dalot and Gomes all missed Monday night’s draw at home to Arsenal. Phil Jones will also be absent after he was ruled out until after the international break, while Eric Bailly is still recuperating from the knee surgery he underwent over the summer, with the Ivorian initially slated for a December return. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will provide a further update when he sits down to address the press on Wednesday afternoon.
A LOOK AT OUR OPPONENTS
AZ were formed in 1967 from the merger of two clubs – Alkmaar '54 and FC Zaanstreek. Since then, the club from the north of the country have established themselves as one of the Netherlands’ most successful sides, winning Eredivisie titles in 1981 and 2009 and four KNVB Cups, in 1978, 1981, 1982 and 2013. They also have previous in this competition, having finished as runners-up to Ipswich Town in the UEFA Cup in 1981. Although United have never played them in a competitive match, we do have a few links with AZ. Our former manager Louis van Gaal guided the Cheeseheads – Alkmaar is renowned for its cheese market – to their last league win a decade ago, while our current goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the man between the sticks during that triumphant campaign.
The hosts currently sit third in the Eredivisie table, with six wins, one draw and one defeat from their eight matches. The Cheeseheads are currently on a four-game winning run in the league, with the 3-0 win at Feyenoord last Thursday their standout performance of the season so far. They followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Heracles on Sunday to stay within a point of Ajax and PSV Eindhoven at the top of the table and have the best defence in the division, having conceded only three goals. AZ defeated BK Hacken, Mariupol and Antwerp to qualify for the group stages of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League and they fought their way to a 2-2 draw with Partizan Belgrade in their Group L opener in Serbia, despite playing most of the match with 10 men after Jonas Svensson’s 27th-minute red card.
WHO’S THE MANAGER?
Arne Slot is AZ’s current boss, having taken over from John van den Brom – who moved to Utrecht after five years at the helm – during the summer. This is Slot’s first permanent job in management, but the former PEC Zwolle, Sparta Rotterdam and NAC Breda midfielder served under van den Brom as assistant for two years, helping guide the club to finishes of third and fourth in the Eredivisie.
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
AZ boast two players with Premier League experience in their squad, in the form of Ron Vlaar and Jordie Clasie. Centre-back Vlaar played for Aston Villa between 2012 and 2015 and was a key member of van Gaal’s squad when he guided the Netherlands to third place at the 2014 World Cup. Clasie, who plays in central midfield, also featured in Brazil and joined AZ in the summer from Southampton, where he made 49 appearances between 2015 and 2017 before being loaned out to Club Brugge and Feyenoord. Oussama Idrissi is the man United need to keep an eye on going forward for AZ. The Morocco international has struck six times in the league already this season. Idrissi’s fellow forwards Calvin Stengs and Myron Boadu could also prove to be dangerous, with both having already opened their Group L account in AZ’s draw at Partizan, while homegrown talent Teun Koopmeiners has netted five times from central midfield.
WHO’S THE REFEREE?
The man in the middle for tomorrow’s match is Lithuanian Gediminas Mazeika. He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Vytautas Simkus, Vytenis Kazlauskas and Robertas Valikonis, with the latter acting as fourth official. VAR will not be in play during any of this season’s Europa League group games: the system is only set to be used for the final in Gdansk on 27 May 2020.
Our fellow Premier League sides Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers are also in action in the Europa League. The Gunners host Standard Liege, while Wolves will look to get off the mark in Group K when they travel to Turkey to play Besiktas. Here is the full programme of fixtures for Matchday 2:
THURSDAY 3 OCTOBER
Astana v Partizan Belgrade
AZ Alkmaar v MANCHESTER UNITED
Besiktas v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Braga v Slovan Bratislava
CSKA Moscow v Espanyol
Ferencvaros v Ludogorets
Feyenoord v Porto
Istanbul Basaksehir v Borussia Monchengladbach
Oleksandriya v Gent
Saint Etienne v Wolfsburg
Wolfsberger v Roma
Young Boys v Rangers
Arsenal v Standard Liege
Celtic v CFR Cluj
Dudelange v Qarabag
Krasnodar v Getafe
Lazio v Rennes
Lugano v Dynamo Kyiv
Malmo v Copenhagen
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven
Sevilla v APOEL
Sporting CP v LASK
Trabzonspor v Basel
Vitoria SC v Eintracht Frankfurt
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