AZ Alkmaar v Heerenveen
In the first leg of this end-of-season Eredivisie Europa Conference League play-off, eighth place Heerenveen upset the odds to beat fifth place AZ – having been 1-2 down until late on when they shocked their more illustrious visitors with two late goals.
The Frisians’ head coach Ole Tobiasen said that luck was on their side, but he felt they played well against tough opposition. They now take that lead to Alkmaar, where avoiding defeat gives them victory, and a one-goal defeat means extra-time and penalties.
I think AZ are likely to win this home leg though. They were unfortunate to lose the first leg, but midfielder Dani de Wit said after the game that whilst Heerenveen’s goals were good goals, his side gave them too much room to shot from. Amin Sarr and Tibor Halilovic bent in wonderful strikes, and they are two players AZ must watch out for again on Sunday.
With Heerenveen on the ascendancy, having lost only two of their last eleven, AZ have not won any of their last five, though their last win was a 2-1 home victory over Heerenveen in April. It’s one of those where AZ do have the upper hand on quality, and they are due a win.
Vitesse Arnhem v FC Utrecht
On Thursday, Utrecht won 3-1 to give themselves a healthy advantage travelling to Arnhem. Vitesse were so error-strewn as they went down two goals in the first quarter of the match; goalkeeper Jeroen Houwen had an awful game in my opinion.
How do Thomas Letsch’s men turn it around? Vitesse are not prolific scorers, and at home, they have only beaten a team by two clear goals or more once (NEC 4-1).
It feels as though Utrecht are the hungrier team to qualify for Europe, especially when you consider Vitesse had such an absorbing campaign this season already in the Conference League, and several stars are making their exits from the club.
The play-offs often see plenty of goals because teams can let loose a little. With nine goals over two games on Thursday, I think another both teams to score bet would win here too. Utrecht getting a goal would suck the life out of Vitesse late into the game, but with both sides having their deficiencies, I think we’ll have some goals again.
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