Only one route for Koeman's AZ

AZ Alkmaar coach Ronald Koeman knows "there is no other option than victory for us" as Group H's bottom side take on second-placed Olympiacos FC with their European hopes in the balance.

Only one route for Koeman's AZ
Only one route for Koeman's AZ ©UEFA.com

Ronald Koeman knows AZ Alkmaar will "have to take risks" as they go in search of the home victory against Olympiacos FC he believes they need to keep their Group H ambitions alive. The Dutch champions took just a point from their double-header against Arsenal FC and lie bottom of the section, while Zico's Olympiacos remain second and well-poised to qualify, despite losing 2-0 at R. Standard de Liège last time out.

Ronald Koeman, AZ coach
The task for us is easy – there is no other option than victory. We know what we have to do: we have to win to continue in the Champions League and maybe even in Europe. However, it will not be easy to achieve that. I don't think Olympiacos will come here to take the initiative. They will wait and look for whatever opportunities arise. That makes it extra hard for us as we will not get much space. At certain moments, we will have to take risks to go for victory. In the home game they played 4-3-3 against us, but away to Standard they played with five defenders. So we are prepared for a tough match. We realise that looking at the current standings we need a win, while they can play with patience and from defence. At this moment, third place is the most realistic option for us.

Zico, Olympiacos coach
This is a good opportunity for us to get a win after drawing our last two games, but this is a tough group in which every team wants to win, so we'll have to do our best to deliver a good performance. We started well against Standard but didn't take our chances and after that we made mistakes; mistakes we are going to try to avoid here. We also have an important match [against Panathinaikos FC] at the weekend, so a draw here and a win there wouldn't be so bad, but obviously we'd prefer to win both matches. Koeman was a good player but unfortunately we didn't play against each other. I watched him a lot and met him when we were assistant coaches with Brazil and the Netherlands [in a 1998 FIFA World Cup semi-final] which was a very important grounding for us on the path to becoming coaches. I think our ideas about how football should be played aren't so different.

Weekend results

21/11/09 Roda JC 2-4 AZ Alkmaar
(Kah 27, Yulu-Matondo 53; Lens 3 75, Elm 70, Jonathas 80)

• AZ moved up to sixth but are still 16 points behind leaders FC Twente.

• It was only AZ's third win in 13 league and UEFA Champions League matches; they have lost seven in that sequence.

21/11/09 PAS Giannina FC 2-2 Olympiacos FC
(Tzanis 83, Bakayoko 90; Żewłakow 23, Mitroglou 80)

• Olympiacos missed the chance to move level with Panathinaikos at the top after letting slip a two-goal lead.

• It was the first time they have failed to win an away league match since 8 March, an eight-game run.

Team news
AZ
Out: Kew Jaliens (concussion), Mounir El Hamdaou (hamstring), Erik Heijblok (shoulder)
Doubtful: none
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: none

• Jaliens was concussed during the win at Roda and replaced at half-time on his 200th competitive appearance.

Olympiacos
Out: Matt Derbyshire (groin), Andreas Vasilogiannis (cruciate ligaments), Diogo (ankle), Vassilis Torosidis (knee), Luciano Galletti (thigh), Cristián Ledesma (knee)
Doubtful: Leonardo (knee), Leonidas Panagopoulos (back), Avraam Papadopoulos (groin), Ieroklis Stoltidis (chest pains)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: Dudu

Background

• On Matchday 4, AZ went down 4-1 at Arsenal to remain at the foot of the table on two points. The same night, Olympiacos succumbed 2-0 in Belgium against Standard. It meant the Greek champions stayed on six points, two ahead of Standard and in the second qualifying berth.

• The Matchday 1 fixture between AZ and Olympiacos came just a day after Olympiacos had parted company with Temuri Ketsbaia and with new coach Zico looking on from the stands. It remained deadlocked until the 79th minute when Vassilis Torosidis headed in Jaouad Zairi's cross to give the home team the win.

Did you know?

Zico was the Fenerbahçe SK coach when they lost on away goals to AZ in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup round of 32 after the aggregate scores were tied at 5-5.

For more information on the match in the official press kit, click here.