Our prediction for this Europa Conference League match:
AZ Alkmaar will be aiming to make a flying start to their Conference League qualifying campaign when they take on Santa Coloma at Estadi Nacional on Thursday evening. The Eredivisie outfit enjoyed a very successful preseason, with the team beating all Club Brugge, Southampton, and Bologna and it is no surprise the bookies see them as hot favourites to win the first leg. It has to be noted that the club chiefs have signed permanent deals with the likes of Alexandre Penetra, Denso Kasius, and David Moller Wolfe in the summer transfer window.
The hosts, on the other hand, are likely to adopt a defence-minded approach in Thursday’s clash, but preventing AZ high-profile attackers from finding the net is easier said than done. David faces Goliath in Andorra, meaning that anything but a comfortable away triumph would be a big surprise. Santa Coloma defender Miguel Lopez is one yellow card away from suspension.
Highlighted Player (Jordy Clasie):
Jordy Clasie is a product of the Feyenoord youth academy who plays for AZ Alkmaar as a midfielder. His main position is defensive midfield, but he is capable of producing fine displays as both central midfielder and centre-back as well.
Clasie played for the likes of Feyenoord, Excelsior (loan), Southampton, and Club Brugge (loan) before returning to Rotterdam. After ending his second spell with Feyenoord, the Dutch footballer joined AZ Alkmaar in the summer of 2019. He made his AZ debut in the Eredivisie on August 4, 2019 in a 4-0 win over Fortuna Sittard.
Jordie Clasie has 12 caps with the Netherlands U21 team, and he made his senior debut in a 1-1 draw with Italy on February 6, 2013. Thanks to his elegant style of play, Clasie has earned the nickname of “Dutch Xavi”. The AZ Alkmaar midfielder was born in Haarlem, Netherlands on June 27, 1991.
Highlighted Team (AZ):
AZ Alkmaar are a professional football club that play their home matches at AFAS Stadion. The venue was opened on 4 August, 2006 and the construction of the stadium cost €38 million. AFAS Stadion is able to hold 17 023 spectators.
The Cheeseheads were founded on 10 May, 1967 and they won their first trophy in 1981, finishing the season 12 points clear of Dutch giants Ajax. 18 years later AZ clinched their second Eredivisie trophy, with the team finishing the 2008/2009 campaign with 80 points, 11 clear of second-placed Twente. In 1981 the club made it to the UEFA Cup final, but English side Ipswich Town proved to be a big catch for the Dutch team.
AZ’s home kits are red and white and they wear black shirts when playing on the road. The likes of Shota Arveladze, Jozy Altidore, Ron Vlaar, Joris Mathijsen, Graziano Pelle, Simon Poulsen, Moussa Dembele and Sergio Romero are notable footballers who played for AZ in the past.