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Alkmaar bank on home form

Published: Wednesday 16 March 2005, 4.58CET
FC Shakhtar Donetsk will have to become the first team to win away to AZ Alkmaar this season to stand a chance.
Published: Wednesday 16 March 2005, 4.58CET

Alkmaar bank on home form

FC Shakhtar Donetsk will have to become the first team to win away to AZ Alkmaar this season to stand a chance.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk will have to rip up the form book if they are to quash AZ Alkmaar's quest for UEFA Cup success on Wednesday.

Free weekend
A 3-1 defeat in Donetsk last week left the Ukrainian side requiring an away win at the Alkmaarderhout - something not achieved in 17 Eredivisie and UEFA Cup matches this season - in order to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals. Given a free weekend to prepare, Shakhtar were usurped from the Ukrainian Premier League summit but received a boost ahead of the Round of 16 second leg in the Netherlands. Romanian striker Ciprian Marica has returned to full training following his injury, although he is unlikely to play against Alkmaar as he is visiting the surgeon in Germany who operated on his leg.

Scoring spree
Shakhtar's first-choice forwards Julius Aghahowa and Brandão are both in form having scored nine goals between them in the last seven games, but the latter, together with Zvonimir Vukic is ruled out by injury, while Anatoliy Tymoschuk is suspended.
"Our task remains the same - qualifying," Aghahowa said. "It will be hard as Alkmaar have a huge advantage from the first leg, when we made too many mistakes and lacked concentration in defence. We need to win to make it up to our fans, and scoring three goals in the Netherlands is not impossible."

Full strength
Alkmaar remain second in the Eredivisie as they won at the weekend. Co Adriaanse's side showed their mettle, recovering from a goal behind against De Graafschap before strikes from Jan Kromkamp, Denny Landzaat and Ali Elkhattabi guided them to a 3-2 victory. Although a single-goal defeat would still put them through to the last eight for the first time since 1981, Alkmaar are likely to be at full strength for Wednesday's game, with Juha Reini's long-term achilles problem their only injury. Barry van Galen returns from suspension.

Alternative approach
Adriaanse admitted that the first-leg advantage has altered his side's approach, saying: “We will not use our usual tactics to try and score within 15 minutes. Defending a 3-1 lead is different to starting a match at 0-0. Our goal is qualifying, not winning, and Shakhtar will no longer underestimate us because our strength has now been recognised. Another danger could be making mistakes when in possession; that could create space for the opponents, which is just what they are looking for."

Last updated: 16/03/05 21.58CET

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