DAVID SMITH - Friday, April 12, 2013
Jozy Altidore and AZ will try to further distance themselves from the drop zone while Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond face Volendam in a battle for top spot in the Eerste Divisie.
AZ Alkmaar - FC Utrecht
With a four-point safety net ahead of the relegation places and four games to go in the regular season, Jozy Altidore and AZ are just a few precious results away from mathematically assuring their top-flight status for next season.
They will be facing a tough Utrecht team on Sunday, who are a lock for the post-season playoff for Europa League qualification and are looking to stay sharp over their final five games.
AZ have not lost in their last two, most recently earning a point on the road in Nijmegen, in a game which they failed to take advantage of playing against ten men over the last half-hour.
Utrecht got the better of AZ in their first meeting this season in Alkmaar, as Jacob Mulenga scored an 83rd-minute winner to earn the points for his team.
For AZ, midfielder Maarten Martens will still be out as he recovers from a knee injury.
Utrecht will be missing keeper Robin Ruiter to a groin pull, as well as both Marcus Nilsson and Bob Schepers to back problems.
FC Volendam - Helmond Sport
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond can put themselves into the driver's seat on Friday evening when they travel to Volendam in a first-versus-second battle that will go a long way towards deciding who reaches the lone spot in the Eerste Divisie destined for automatic promotion.
As things stand, Volendam lead Helmond merely by goal differential, but can firmly put themselves in control of the race for first with a win.
With Sparta and Cambuur-Leeuwarden both lurking two points behind, every result is a crucial one for each of these four teams fighting it out, and the close of the weekend could see any of them in pole position.
Helmond won the first contest between these teams back in November, and has woken up from their winter slumber with three wins over their last four. They will need to be at their best to take down Volendam, who have won their last four, and are overall undefeated over six games.
Neither team is reporting any absences.