Manchester United travel to AZ Alkmaar for their first game against Dutch opponents since beating Ajax in the 2017 final.
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The ADO Den Haag Stadium in The Hague is the venue as AZ Alkmaar, whose own ground is unavailable, play host to Manchester United in the English club's first encounter with Dutch opposition since they defeated Ajax 2-0 in the 2016/17 final.
• AZ collected a point from their opening Group L fixture, a 2-2 draw at Partizan in which both teams held the lead, while United finally saw off an obdurate Astana at Old Trafford thanks to a 73rd-minute goal from teenage striker Mason Greenwood.
• AZ and United are meeting in UEFA competition for the first time.
• The Alkmaar club's seven previous home fixtures against English clubs have yielded two wins, four draws and just one defeat. Their first victory, 4-2 in Amsterdam against Ipswich Town in the second leg of the 1980/81 UEFA Cup final, proved in vain as they had lost the first leg 3-0. The last English team AZ faced were Arsenal in the Dutch club's only UEFA Champions League campaign (2009/10), a 1-1 home draw preceding a 4-1 defeat in London.
• United's UEFA Europa League final victory against Ajax in Stockholm three seasons ago was their 17th match against Dutch opposition and their ninth victory. They have lost four of their eight games in the Netherlands (W2 D2), including the last two – against PSV Eindhoven (1-2) on matchday one of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League and Feyenoord (0-1) a year later in the first match of that triumphant UEFA Europa League journey.
• Fourth in last season's Eredivisie at the end of a season that started with defeat by Kairat Almaty in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, AZ are one of three Dutch clubs in this season's group stage, alongside PSV and Feyenoord.
• The Alkmaar club's six group stage participations have all required pre-qualification and this season they negotiated more summer preliminary ties than ever before, three in total, knocking out BK Häcken, Mariupol and, after extra time in the play-offs, Antwerp (1-1 h, 4-1 a). They have progressed to the knockout phase on three occasions, reaching the quarter-finals in 2011/12 and 2013/14 and the round of 32 in 2016/17.
• AZ are unbeaten in Europe this season (W3 D4). Their home record in UEFA Europa League group stage matches is W7 D4 L4 – though they have lost three of the last five (W1 D1).
• The three-time champions of Europe finished sixth in the 2018/19 Premier League, which meant direct access to the UEFA Europa League. They were quarter-finalists in last season's UEFA Champions League, going out to Barcelona after a remarkable round of 16 second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain (0-2 h, 3-1 a).
• United have appeared in three previous UEFA Europa League campaigns, but this is only their second group stage start, the previous one three seasons ago having ended in outright victory under manager José Mourinho against Ajax in Stockholm. The Manchester giants reached the round of 16 on their other two participations.
• The Red Devils' away record in 11 UEFA Europa League fixtures is W4 D2 L5, with no defeats in the past five. Indeed, United's matchday one win against Astana means they are now undefeated home and away in 12 UEFA Europa League matches (W9 D3), keeping clean sheets in eight of those.
Links and trivia
• United's Argentinian international goalkeeper Sergio Romero was an AZ player from 2007–11, winning the 2008/09 Eredivisie title with the club under Louis van Gaal, who would later bring him to United.
• AZ skipper Ron Vlaar has played in the English Premier League (Aston Villa 2012–15) – as has club-mate Jordy Clasie (Southampton 2015–17).
• Norwegian duo Jonas Svensson and Fredrik Midtsjø both had lengthy spells with Rosenborg before joining AZ and were frequent opponents of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær when he was the head coach of coastal rivals Molde.
• When John van den Brom ended his five-year stint as AZ's head coach by moving to Utrecht in summer 2019, his job was passed on to assistant Arne Slot, whose first task was to steer the Alkmaar club through three qualifying rounds into the UEFA Europa League group stage. This is his first post as a head coach although he is a well-known former player in the Netherlands having operated in the Eredivisie for NAC Breda, Sparta Rotterdam and PEC Zwolle, where he started both his playing and coaching careers, the latter in charge of the youth side in 2013/14.
• A former Old Trafford favourite, whose legendary status at the club was confirmed with his added-time winner in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern München, Solskjær returned to Manchester United as interim manager in December 2018, replacing Mourinho, before securing the position on a permanent basis in March 2019. A former Norwegian international striker renowned for his predatory goalscoring, he won six Premier League titles as a United player and established his reputation as a coach in his homeland with Molde.