Lofty AZ Alkmaar ” are no mugs”


Tonight, West Ham continue their bid to win the Europa Conference League when they square off in the first leg of their semi-final tie against high flying AZ Alkmaar .

West Ham currently sit in 15th position in the Premier League standings, whilst AZ occupy a lofty fourth place in the Eredivisie, just two points behind Ajax.

Having recently suffered three straight defeats in the Premier League, the Hammers bounced back with a well deserved 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday to move seven points clear of the relegation zone with three matches remaining, more than likely ensuring their survival in the top flight.

West Ham have only lost four times in 14 matches in all competitions, helped by extending their undefeated streak in Europe to 12 games

Lest we forget, Gent pushed West Ham hard in the quarter-finals, leading 2-1 on aggregate at one stage before we surged back, and such a comeback highlighted that our supremo possesses one of the strongest squad in the competition.

However, the Irons will need to have learned lessons from this time last year when they under-performed and lost out to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals.

It is worth pointing out that AZ Alkmaar are not exactly novices in Europe – they reached the 1981 UEFA Cup final – but this represents their first time in a continental semi-final since featuring in the last four of the UEFA Cup in 2004-25.

In the Eredivisie AZ are only two points adrift of Europa League qualification and six ahead of fifth-placed Twente with three games left, although one of which is against PSV Eindhoven.

Nevertheless, everyone associated with the Dutch outfit will view this as their best opportunity to win a European trophy with momentum very much on their side. They stunned one of the pre-tournament favourites Lazio in the last 16, they then overturned a 2-0 aggregate deficit to Anderlecht to eventually prevail on penalties, thus setting up a showdown with West Ham.

AZ have only faced English opponents twice in over 13 years, playing Manchester United in the Europa League group stages where they drew 0-0 at the AFAS Stadion before losing 4-0 at Old Trafford.

As the West Ham supporting Ray Winstone would say “they are no mugs ! ”

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  • Clive says:

    I watched Az beat Lazio and they were fantastic. Attack after attack. They play a possession based attacking game and they have players who can shoot and score from distance so Areola will have to be on his toes.

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