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Nürnberg on a knife edge for AZ visit

Published: Monday 3 December 2007, 2.21CET
German contenders 1 FC Nürnberg's UEFA Cup future hangs in the balance as they play host to an AZ Alkmaar side now boasting a European record in Group A.

Tournament statistics

NürnbergAZ

Goals scored11
 
6
Attempts on target36
 
23
Attempts off target32
 
15
Corners31
 
19
Offsides15
 
7
Fouls committed66
 
63
Yellow cards14
 
12
Red cards0
1

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Published: Monday 3 December 2007, 2.21CET

Nürnberg on a knife edge for AZ visit

German contenders 1 FC Nürnberg's UEFA Cup future hangs in the balance as they play host to an AZ Alkmaar side now boasting a European record in Group A.

German contenders 1 FC Nürnberg's UEFA Cup future hangs in the balance as they play host to an AZ Alkmaar side now boasting a European record in Group A.

• Nürnberg need at least a point to avoid an early end to their UEFA Cup campaign, having lost 2-0 at home against Everton FC and drawn 2-2 at FC Zenit St. Petersburg in their two games to date.

• AZ can ensure a tension-free final home game against Everton with a win in Nürnberg to secure qualification. They are unbeaten in their two UEFA Cup away games this season.

• The Dutch side now boast the longest unbeaten home record in European football after their 1-0 win against Larissa FC on Matchday 3 saw them better English side Ipswich Town FC's record of 31 home games in UEFA competition without defeat.

• AZ coach Louis van Gaal is still in plaster after breaking his ankle and fibula in an ill-fated pole vault demonstration at a reunion of his old sporting academy in Amsterdam at the start of November.

• The two sides have never met in UEFA club competition.

• Nürnberg have come up against Dutch opponents before, but not since the first round of the 1968/69 European Champion Clubs' Cup when they met AFC Ajax, drawing 1-1 at home but losing 4-0 in Amsterdam, with Johan Cruyff scoring in both legs.

• Nürnberg coach Hans Meyer has experience of Dutch football, having taken charge of FC Twente between 1996 and 1999 in his first posting outside the former East Germany. He had previously failed to convince clubs in the former West Germany to hire him, saying: "In my optimism, which knows no bounds, I expected [FC] Bayern [München] to offer me a job a day or two after the Berlin wall came down."

• AZ have met German sides in four games, all of them in the UEFA Cup. They knocked TSV Alemannia Aachen out of the last 32 of the 2004/05 competition with a 0-0 draw in Germany and a 2-1 win at home, but came unstuck against Werder Bremen in last season's quarter-finals, drawing 0-0 at home and losing 4-1 at the Weserstadion.

• Former AFC Ajax team-mates will be on opposite sides in Nuremberg. Nürnberg's Tomáš Galásek played with AZ goalkeeper Joey Didulica at the club between 2000 and 2003.

• Didulica may also exchange a few words with young Nürnberg defender Matthew Spiranovic. The 30-year-old Didulica and the 19-year-old Spiranovic – both of whom have Croatian roots – were both born in Geelong, Australia and started their careers with local side North Geelong Warriors.

• AZ's Brazilian striker Ari is serving the second game of a two-match suspension after being sent off in the 1-1 draw at Zenit.

• Everton are at home against Zenit in Wednesday's other Group A game.

Last updated: 04/12/07 10.53CET

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