Our football match prediction:
AZ Alkmaar are with one foot in the Europa League last 32, but they can’t afford any complacency ahead of Thursday’s football match against Zenit as they are only one point clear of Dundalk and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group D. The Dutch outfit proved their worth in a 1-0 win over Dundalk in their last group game, but the hosts need to be on top of their game against Zenit if they are to get their job done in the Europa League group stages. The Zenitchiki recorded a win in each of their five group matches, but seeing that coach Mircea Lucescu is likely to rest his first-team regulars for the Russian Premier League derby against CSKA, we predict that AZ Alkmaar will book their place in the Europa League knockout stages. Wout Weghorst has netted nine goals in all competitions this term and he is likely to pose a big threat for the opposition defenders.
Highlighted Player (Ron Vlaar):
Ron Vlaar is a professional football player who began his senior career at AZ Alkmaar. The right-footed defender made 10 appearances for the club between 2004 and 2006 and then he joined fellow Eredivisie club Feyenoord. Vlaar made his Feyenoord debut on 15 January, 2006 against Vitesse and he was playing for de Trots van Zuid until July, 2012. The Dutch defender moved to England on 27 July, signing a three-year deal with Aston Villa. He made 27 league appearances for the Villans in the 2012/2013 Premier League campaign and he was named captain on 15 September, 2012. Ron Vlaar participated in the 2014/2015 FA Cup final, but Aston Villa were beaten by Arsenal in the title game. In 2015 he returns to AZ Alkmaar and he has been playing for the Dutch team ever since. Speaking of his international career, Vlaar won the UEFA U21 Championship with Netherlands on two occasions (2006, 2007). In 2014 he won the bronze medal with the Oranje at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Highlighted Team (Zenit Petersburg):
Zenit Saint Petersburg are a Russian football club that was founded by workers of Leningrad Metal Plant in 1925. Over the years the Zenitchiki have established themselves as one of the dominant forces in Russian football, but they won their first domestic trophy in 1984. Zenit have been impressive in the national championship in the 21st century, winning four league titles, while clinching two Russian Cups (2010, 2016). The Zenitchiki are a regular participant of the Champions League group stages and in 2008 they did well to win the UEFA Cup. The Russian outfit defeated Glasgow Rangers (2-0) in the title game, with Denisov and Zyryanov both finding the net in the final of the competition. Zenit play their home games at Krestovsky Stadium, the venue that was opened in 2016. Gazprom are the club’s main sponsors and the colour of their home shirts is white-sky blue. Brazilian ace Hulk is probably the most notable footballer who played for Zenit.