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AZ Alkmaar hope to master TSV Alemannia Aachen despite frosty weather in the Netherlands.
The Dutch side have placed a protective blanket over the pitch at the Alkmaarderhout stadium in the hope of ensuring a good surface for the game against Aachen, as they aim to take full advantage of the goalless draw they earned in the first leg in Germany.
A 1-1 draw at home against Roda JC at the weekend saw Co Adriaanse's side continue to slip after leading the Eredivisie at the winter break. Playmaker and team captain Danny Landzaat picked up an ankle injury during that game but Alkmaar are confident that he will play on Thursday.
Landzaat returned to full training on Wednesday and seemed to have fared reasonably well. "It exceeded my expectations," he said afterwards. "I still have a day to recover completely so I only have to see how the ankle reacts to this training. If it goes OK, then I think I will be able to play."
By contrast, Aachen coach Dieter Hecking has only the bare bones of his squad, with Cristian Fiel, Florian Bruns and Laurentiu Reghekampf definitely out through injury, and Reiner Plasshenrich and Dutch striker Erik Meijer facing a race against time to be fit for the game.
However neither injury problems nor a 1-0 weekend defeat to 1. FC Köln have dented Hecking's confidence. "
Why should we not surprise Europe once more?" he said. "We expect another thrilling match. Of course, we are the underdogs. But we promise we will fight as hard as we can."
The 2. Bundesliga side will not lack motivation. A win against Alkmaar would give them the chance of facing German giants FC Schalke 04 in the last 16. "There is still a long way to go, but it is possible," said Hecking. "For the people in the very west of Germany, this game would be a real highlight."
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