UEFA Europa League - 2020/21 SeasonMatch press kits
|AZ Alkmaar||AZ Stadion - AlkmaarThursday 29 October 2020|
21.00CET (21.00 local time) Group F - Matchday 2
Buoyed by an unlikely away win on Matchday 1, AZ Alkmaar pursue their ambitions in UEFA Europa League Group F with a home fixture against Croatian Cup winners Rijeka.
• There were contrasting fortunes for the clubs on Matchday 1 as AZ claimed a momentous 1-0 win at Napoli through Dani de Wit's 57th-minute strike while Rijeka conceded an added-time winner at home to Real Sociedad to lose by the same score.
• AZ have never previously met Croatian opponents, whereas Rijeka's experience of Dutch opposition is limited to two meetings with Feyenoord in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stage, a 3-1 home win preceding a 2-0 defeat in the Netherlands.
• AZ were second in the standings behind Ajax on goal difference when the 2019/20 Eredivisie was prematurely concluded in March, which earned them a place in this season's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. Arne Slot's side won that tie, 3-1 after extra time at home to Viktoria Plzeň, but lost the next, 2-0 away to Dynamo Kyiv, and therefore moved into the UEFA Europa League group stage, where they are competing for the seventh time.
• The Alkmaar club have finished in the top two of their UEFA Europa League group on four occasions, most recently last season when they recorded nine points and 15 goals – the joint highest tally in 2019/20 – in finishing runners-up to Manchester United. Hopes of matching or bettering their run to the quarter-finals in 2011/12 and 2013/14 were ended, however, in the round of 32 by LASK (1-1 h, 0-2 a).
• The 1980/81 UEFA Cup runners-up are undefeated in nine European home fixtures (W4 D5). Their all-time record at home in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W8 D6 L4.
• Third in the Croatian league last season, Rijeka retained the domestic cup thanks to a 1-0 win against league runners-up Lokomotiva Zagreb in the final, which earned the club a third successive UEFA Europa League third qualifying round berth.
• Eliminated on entry by Sarpsborg in 2018/19 and in the play-offs by Gent in 2019/20, Rijeka battled their way through to the group stage this season, a 2-0 extra-time home win for Simon Rožman's side against Kolos of Ukraine in their opening qualifier preceding a 1-0 victory at Copenhagen in the play-offs. The Croatian side have participated in three previous UEFA Europa League group stages, in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2017/18, but have yet to make further progress.
• Rijeka's away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W1 D2 L6. They failed to score in their first six away matches but were on target seven times in their three 2017/18 fixtures.
Links and trivia
• De Wit and Rijeka's Robert Murić were team-mates with Ajax and Jong Ajax from 2016 to 2018.
• AZ midfielder Jordy Clasie and Rijeka's Ivan Tomečak played together in Belgium for Club Brugge during the second half of 2017/18.