R. Standard de Liège can steal second spot in Group H with victory over AZ Alkmaar and an Olympiacos FC defeat, but László Bölöni is wary of opponents who have impressed despite intermittent form.
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R. Standard de Liège coach László Bölöni is hoping to add "another chapter" to the club's proud history as they seek the victory at home to AZ Alkmaar in Group H that could take them through to the first knockout round. Bölöni, who also needs Olympiacos FC to lose at home to Arsenal FC, has warned his side to beware of Dutch opponents who he believes have played the best football in the group besides Arsenal and could pip Standard to a UEFA Europa League berth with a win. However, AZ sacked coach Ronald Koeman at the weekend after another league defeat, and caretaker Martin Haar, who will be replaced by Dick Advocaat on Thursday, needs to lift his players to face an "intimidating atmosphere" in Belgium.
László Bölöni, Standard coach
It's the last match and Standard are in a good position as there is still something at stake for us. We all have to give our best. This team hopes to add another chapter to the club's history. We are missing some players, but we do not want to play in the shadows. Behind Arsenal, AZ have played the best football in this group. The Dutch way of playing is better organised than Belgian and Greek football. We always play to win but we will have to be clever. We are a young team and it is hard enough to concentrate on our own game without having the Olympiacos result in mind as well. Third place would satisfy me, but we are eager to continue in the Champions League and that would please me even more.
Martin Haar, caretaker AZ coach
The players are well aware of the importance of this match. We realise it's going to be an intimidating atmosphere here in Liège but my boys are used to that already. We have played at Arsenal and Olympiacos, and we can compare that with what we will face at Standard. I do not feel uncomfortable in this role, as I have been assistant for many years. As technical staff we usually agreed with Koeman so it would be strange to suddenly do everything differently. Maybe we will need to take a more attacking approach as we must win this match to move ahead of Standard while they have more options.
05/12/09 Standard 2-2 KFC Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen
(Jovanović 58, De Camargo 70; Goor 39, Dosunmu 62)
• Standard ended a run of three successive defeats in all competitions – all away from home – but twice had to come from behind to salvage a point against Germinal Beerschot.
• Milan Jovanović's goal was Standard's first in 325 minutes, since Gohi Bi Cyriac's opener against KAA Gent on 21 November.
04/12/09 AZ 1-2 BV Vitesse
(Dembélé 9; Nilsson 50, Stevanovič 59)
• Moussa Dembélé was sent off in the 79th minute along with Vitesse's Dalibor Stevanovič in what proved to be Koeman's final game in charge of AZ.
• Koeman was dismissed in the wake of the defeat by Vitesse – his first team as head coach – after less than seven months at the AZ helm. His 57-year-old assistant Haar, another former Netherlands international defender, takes temporary command against AZ until new coach Dick Advocaat takes over on Thursday.
Out: Steven Defour (broken foot)
Doubtful: Felipe (hamstring), Dieudonné Mbokani (calf)
Suspended: Eliaquim Mangala, Mehdi Carcela-González
Misses next match if booked: Ricardo Rocha
Doubtful: Héctor Moreno (knee)
Misses next match if booked: none
• Reserve goalkeeper Joey Didulica has not travelled as his wife is due to give birth.
• The 1-1 draw on Matchday 2 was the first time the sides had met in a competitive fixture and they had only previously been involved in two European games against teams from their opponents' country. In each case the results were the same – a win at home and an away defeat.
• AZ progressed in their 1980/81 UEFA Cup quarter-final against KSC Lokeren OV 2-1 on aggregate, losing 1-0 in Belgium, while Standard went down to Feyenoord on away goals in the 1973/74 UEFA Cup third round after a 3-3 aggregate draw despite a 3-1 home success.
Did you know?
AZ's Sebastien Pocognoli, Maarten Martens, Gill Swerts and Moussa Dembélé and Standard's Igor De Camargo, Axel Witsel and Steven Defour are all team-mates in the Belgian national team.
For more information on the match in the official press kit, click here.