Manuel Veth –
AZ Alkmaar vs Mariupol – Thursday, August 15, 19:30BST/20:30CEST – Ado den Haag, Den Haag, Netherlands
No goals in the first leg in Ukraine means there is still everything to be played for as AZ Alkmaar vs Mariupol head to the Netherlands. On paper, Mariupol have a slight advantage as a draw higher than 0-0 would see them go through thanks to the away goal rule.
Furthermore, Mariupol will face an Alkmaar side that is forced into temporary exile. But on August 10 part of the roof of the AFAS Stadion collapsed. Thankfully, the incident took place while the stadium was empty and nobody was hurt.
“That surprised all of us but we are thankful that nobody got hurt,” Alkmaar’s sporting director Robert Eenhoorn said at a press conference. “We will have to study what happened and only once we got the results we can report more details,” Eenhoorn added
Until then there will be no games at the AFAS Stadion, which means the game against Mariupol will take place at the Ado den Haag Stadium 90km south of Alkmaar. It is a situation that Mariupol are all to familiar with, located on the border to the Donbass Mariupol are not cleared to play their home games in Mariupol and instead play in Odessa.
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Despite their forced exile, however, the club have done well in recent years. This season they started with four points from the first three games and took one point in their visit to Karpaty Lviv.
Overall, the Ukrainians have enough to surprise Alkmaar in the Netherlands but on balance AZ will remain the favourites in what is a finely balanced tie.
AZ Alkmaar vs Mariupol – Players to look out for:
Teun Koopmeiners #8 – AZ Alkmaar
Captain Teun Koopmeiners anchors Alkmaar’s midfield. Born in Amsterdam, the central midfielder is at the centre of AZ’s three-man midfield. Able to play several positions the 21-year-old has increased his market value to €5 million since first bursting on the scene in 2017 and has managed ten appearances for the Dutch U21 side, which he also captains.
Valerii Fedorchuk #25 – Mariupol
Valerii Fedorchuk is the most experienced player in a side that mostly consists of youth players and academy players loaned out from Shakhtar Donetsk. The former U21 national team player looks back at a career that includes stints all over Ukraine, where he played 185 games in the Ukrainian Premier Liha but also time in neighbouring Latvia.
Alkmaar vs Mariupol – Match Stats
- Before the first leg, the two clubs have never played each other.
- Before the first leg, Mariupol have never faced Dutch opposition for the first time in history and have never advanced beyond the third round of Europa League qualifying.
- AZ Alkmaar have never faced Mariupol but faced Shakhtar Donetsk (W2), Dynamo Kyiv (L2), Dnipro (W1), Metalist Kharkiv (D2) in the past.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Alkmaar vs Mariupol – 1-1
Alkmaar vs Mariupol – Lineups
Bizot – Wijndal, Wuytens, Vlaar, Svensson – Midtsjö, Koopmeiners, Ouwejan – Idrissi, Boadu, Stengs
Head Coach: Arne Slot
Kudzhamov – Horbunov, Bykov, Chobotenko, Polehenko – Vakula, Checkh, Mishniov, Fedorchuk, Churko – Tyshchenko
Head Coach: Oleksandr Babych
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.