Thursday 3rd April 2014
AZ ALKMAAR vs. BENFICA (20:05 BST)
AZ Alkmaar face the huge task of getting past Portuguese giants Benfica, who have a great history against Dutch clubs in Europe.
The Portuguese champions have only experienced one defeat in the last ten games over teams from the Netherlands and it was a penalty-shootout loss to Guus Hiddink’s PSV in the European Cup of 1988/89. On the other hand, in the past AZ have a great record against clubs from Portugal, defeating Sporting Braga and Sporting Lisbon while holding Pacos de Ferreira to a draw.
Jorge Jesus’s Benfica defeated Tottenham Hotspur to progress, and will be arrive in Alkmaar confident of reaching the semis, after being victorious in 25 of their last 29 matches in all competitions. Domestically, Dick Advocaat’s men are in poor form with just one win from their last five games and European football may be out of reach next season unless they can win the Eredivisie Europa League play-offs. They currently sit in seventh in the Dutch top flight, although they would qualify for this tournament again, if they could pull of the unlikely achievement of winning it.
AZ are struggling to score goals and there was just the one goal over Alkmaar’s two legs against Anzhi in the last round, and that was a penalty kick. The Dutch side however, will certainly face a tougher test against the Portuguese league leaders are likely to have too much quality for their hosts, though Advocaat will ask his side to defend deep to ensure they have something to play for in the second leg.
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