Writer: Ross Molyneux
Date:Thursday March 15 2007
I doubt there`s many of a black and white persuasion who don`t think this is our biggest game of the season. 4-2 up after a superb first leg it`s all in our own hands as we face a team who are yet to be beaten at home in Europe in 28 attempts. With a squad as strong as it`s been all season there seems to be plenty to be optimistic about.
Reading between the lines though there seems to be a pervading mentality that we can still get beaten and go through. Switching on Metro this morning that was the first headline that came on the news and it`s got to be a worry. Going over there and sitting back on a two goal lead still has my nerves shredded, even more so following the debacle in Lisbon in 2005. That night Dyer had put us into a two goal cushion and the commentators had us pegged as semi finalists. 70 minutes later, after Dyer and Bramble withdrawals, and we were out on our arses and the season was dead. The same applies this year - we lose this and once again the remaining games turn into a crawl for the finish line.
'There are no secrets and I'm not interested in any of this rubbish about mind games because it's total nonsense. The fact that we're away from home will make no difference whatsoever. We will attack the game the same as we did last Thursday because it makes sense for us to play that way. It worked last week and we need to try to make it work in the away leg now. It will be a case of keeping a good team shape and producing some controlled attacking. We want to be playing in their half, but we don't need central midfield players breaking forward at every opportunity. We have enough attacking threat in terms of the front two and the two wide players to go and have a real go at Alkmaar.'
for AZ injured trio da Silva, Schaars and Sinouh are all still out and
Cziommer made a successful return from injury at the weekend but Opdam failed to return after half time after reporting a hamstring tweak. Key men De Zeuw, Arveladze and Dembele are all in line to play however.
Looked rapid list time out and seemed to make a difference to the AZ line up.
Latest fitness reports have Taylor and Carr carrying slight knocks ahead of the game, forcing them to train alone, which has to be a bit of a worry considering the paucity of our resources in defence. Craig Moore has been spotted in the vicinity but can`t even be close to being match fit. Elsewhere there are widespread reports of a return to the side for Emre.
Needs all his experience to keep the side together in midfield.
1968/69 Feyenoord (a) lost 0-2 (Fairs Cup)
1997/98 PSV (a) lost 0-1 (Champs Lge)
2002/03 Feyenoord (a) won 3-2 (Champs Lge)
2003/04 NAC Breda (a) won 1-0 (UEFA Cup)
2003/04 PSV (a) drew 1-1 (UEFA Cup)
2004/05 Heerenveen (a) won 2-1 (UEFA Cup)
1-1 - a hard fought draw with Martins and Dembele troubling the scorers.
Charlton (The Valley) on Sunday.
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Date:Thursday March 15 2007
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