Our prediction for this Europa League match:
After sharing the spoils with Napoli in the Netherlands, AZ Alkmaar will have the Europa League last 32 match-ball against Rijeka on Thursday evening. A win over the Croatian outfit will see AZ Alkmaar book their place in the knockout stages, and we are positive that the visitors will leave their hearts on the field. Both Clasie and Vlaar are rated doubtful for the game, but regardless of which players will be deployed in the starting XI, away win should be considered.
Rijeka, on the other hand, do not seem to be competitive at this level, and even though they spoiled Real Sociedad’s party in San Sebastian a week ago, home win should not be considered. When the two teams met in Alkmaar earlier in the process AZ recorded a routine 4-1 win over Rijeka, which is yet another reason why we are tempted to put our money on the visiting team.
Highlighted Player (Darko Velkovski):
Born in Skopje, Macedonia on June 22, 1995 Darko Velkovski is a professional footballer who plays for Vardar as a centre-back. Darko Velkovski started his career at the youth team of Makedonija Gjorche Petrov and in 2011 he moved to Rabotnicki.
The 188-cm tall defender scored 11 goals in 109 appearances for the Romantics before joining fellow Macedonian side Vardar in 2015. Darko Velkovski has established himself as a first-team regular at the capital club and he made 28 appearances for the Crveno-Crni in the 2016/2017 Macedonian Prva Liga campaign. Velkovski, whose contract with Vardar expires on June 30, 2018, started for the Macedonian champions in a historical 2-1 win at Fenerbahce in the 2017/2018 Europa League play-offs, return leg.
Darko Velkovski made his Macedonia debut on June 18, 2014 in a 2-0 loss to China in a friendly. His main position is centre-back, but he is capable of playing as both defensive and central midfielder as well.
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.