An interesting first leg in the Europa Conference League last 16 will take place on Thursday, as Anderlecht plays host to AZ Alkmaar. Both teams will feel that they have solid chances of making the semi-finals of the competition this season, but which side will take advantage in the first leg on Thursday?
Europa Conference League Preview
Anderlecht will have the home advantage for the first leg in the Europa Conference League on Thursday. They have done extremely well to reach this stage of the competition, despite struggling throughout the group stage. Anderlecht won just two of their six matches in the group stage, while they were held to draws both home and away against FCSB.
However, they are certainly a team that have appeared incredibly competitive on the field since the knockout round got underway. There was only more evidence of that in their round of 16 clash against Villarreal in the previous stage. After being held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, they claimed a historic 1-0 success in Spain in the return fixture.
AZ Alkmaar has certainly been one of the clubs that have gone under the radar in the Europa Conference League this term. They entered the competition in the second qualifying round, where they saw off Dundee United, Gil Vicente, and Tuzla City to reach the group stage. Since the start of the group stage, they have stepped up their performance levels, as they reached the knockout round after winning five of their six matches.
In the previous round, AZ produced one of the shocks of the tournament, as they managed to eliminate Serie A high flyers, Lazio. In both fixtures, AZ claimed 2-1 wins, including a success on Italian soil in the opening clash.
Anderlecht vs AZ Alkmaar Head to Head
This will be the third competitive meeting between the two sides. Each of the previous two has been won by AZ Alkmaar, with both being won by a 1-0 scoreline. However, the most recent of the clashes was staged in the Europa League in 2012.
Anderlecht vs AZ Alkmaar Prediction
This should be a wide-open first leg between these two sides, and both will feel that they could reach the semi-final stage. However, we will be siding with the away team for this first leg, and we could see AZ Alkmaar landing a 2-0 win to put themselves on course for a place in the final four.
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