Jozy Altidore of the United States lines up prior to the FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
AZ Alkmaar are undefeated at home in all competitions and will like their chances against Valencia.
Valencia might have been feeling secure in their La Liga standing, they might have been looking forward to AZ Alkmaar too much, or they might just not be a very good team. Whatever is going on, they look poor at the moment. Los Che have lost their last two games in La Liga and are now level on points with Malaga and only three points ahead of Levante. They have been impressive in Europe this year and at the Mestalla in Spain, but they're not terrific away from home.
On Thursday, they travel to the Netherlands to take on an AZ team that has not lost at home this season. They have 16 wins, five draws and no losses at home in all competitions. Valencia are not expected to win, but they will be expected to at least get an away goal to make themselves favorites when the tie goes back to Spain.
AZ's biggest selection dilemma will be at striker. Jozy Altidore had been playing in place of the injured Charlison Benshop, but Benshop returned to start against RKC Waalwijk at the weekend. Altidore replaced Benshop at halftime and AZ scored shortly afterwards. Nick Viergever is suspended for AZ, while Roy Beerens is questionable.
Valencia did not have Roberto Soldado in their last game because of a suspension. He'll be in the 18, but could be rested with Aritz Aduriz coming in. Adil Rami is suspended for this match. Sergio Canales, Miguel and Ever Banega are still out long-term.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, March 29, 3:05 p.m. ET, 9:05 p.m. local
Venue: AFAS Stadion, Alkmaar, Netherlands
TV: DirecTV Soccer (USA), ESPN (UK)
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