SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND
AZ ALKMAAR vs. VIKTORIA PLZEN (CZE)
WEDNESDAY 26TH AUGUST 2020 – 3.30pm BST
Even though the Bayern Munich celebrations are still ongoing from their triumph on Sunday evening, AZ Alkmaar begin their quest for Champions League qualification on Wednesday afternoon in a proverbial banana skin one-legged match against Czech side FK Viktoria Plzen writes Will Burns.
Even though the Bayern Munich celebrations are still ongoing from their triumph on Sunday evening, AZ Alkmaar begin their quest for Champions League qualification on Wednesday afternoon in a proverbial banana skin one-legged match against Czech side FK Viktoria Plzen.
Due to the current worldwide pandemic situation, UEFA introduced one-legged ties in the interim which introduces more uncertainty into the competition. By halving the length of the ties, this now matters least to the teams of similar ability and most to the teams of contrasting ability and provides more chance of an upset.
AZ head into the game as favourites but Plzen will be hungry for victory in this unfamiliar one-legged affair. The Czech’s experienced great disappointment at this stage last season, tasting defeat to Olympiakos, before coming a cropper just a few weeks later to Antwerp in the Europa League qualifying.
They qualified for this year’s competition by finishing second in the Czech 1.Liga in 2019/20 and have dished out convincing performances in recent friendly games. Plzen opened their league campaign up with a 3-1 victory over SFC Opava on Friday while resting a few players. Although they conceded first and missed a penalty, they ran out resounding winners by two goals.
Plzen will led up top by their top scorer last year, Frenchman Jean-David Beauguel. He notched 14 goals last term but was rested in Friday’s win until an injury forced him into the game late in the first-half. He went onto net once in the 3-1 win.
The Czech’s possess a strong midfield and creative attack and the AZ will have to be aware of that constantly. Teun Koopmeiners, Jordy Clasie and Dani de Wit will be in for a tough night and will have to play with great caution.
Despite just one win in six friendly outings and competing in an empty, half-finished home stadium on Wednesday afternoon, AZ are still favourites to win. As captain Teun Koopmeiners said in an interview earlier this week “Last year, the pre-season results were not as we wanted, but we won our first league game 4-0”, so spirits should not be down in the AZ camp.
They were boosted earlier this week as coach Arne Slot stated that veteran defender Ron Vlaar and speedy winger Calvin Stengs are both declared fit for the clash, however both men would be highly unlikely to see a full 90 minutes.
Stengs will be vital in the AZ forward line that worked so well last year. On the left, Oussama Idrissi will start and Myron Boadu through the middle, and the trio should create chances copiously to trouble Plzen keeper Ales Hruska.
If they can perform to the standards of last season, then advancing to the third round of qualifying should be a formality.
Although they will not be up to the usual performance and condition that Plzen may be, due to sheer abundance of pace and sheer talent in attack, I see an AZ win here. This is the same team that took Ajax to the limit last year, they are yet to lose any of their talents to the bigger leagues and they should have enough quality to see off the Czech league runners-up.
AZ to win with Both Teams to Score (4.00 at Bet365)
We will post preview/betting articles for the Eredivisie, Eerste Divisie, European and International competitions like this one throughout the year and we will keep track of our profits and losses for the whole 2020/21 season. This is not an official bet due to lack of football from the Dutch sides over the past few months. Official bets will be begin in September.