DAVID SMITH - Friday, March 16, 2012
Jozy Altidore and Alkmaar look to continue their roll when NAC Breda come to visit while Charles Kazlauskas will be a spectator as Helmond continue their march up the Eerste Divisie.
AZ Alkmaar - NAC Breda
After going the distance in AZ's successful Europa League second leg in Italy on Thursday, Jozy Altidore should maintain his starting spot three days later when they host NAC Breda.
Even though AZ lost by a 2-1 score in Thursday's game in Italy, a 2-0 victory in the first leg gave them an aggregate win and passage through to the competition's quarterfinals.
They not only did so playing the vast majority of the game with only ten men on the field, but managed to score the goal which ultimately prevented an overtime period with their man disadvantage.
This only continues their dominant run as of late, which has seen them retake first place in the Eredivisie, where they hold a three-point advantage over nearest challengers Ajax.
The last time they faced Breda in December, they were in the midst of a rather cold streak which included many untimely losses and unimpressive ties, but will be considerable favorites against a team which has only managed to win twice in the last eight games.
The most recent of these victories did end up being a slight favor for AZ, with Breda's easy 3-1 win over PSV last weekend helping AZ to extend their lead atop the league standings.
For AZ, forward Charlison Benschop continues to miss as he recovers from a pulled muscle, however more critically, the team could still be missing midfielder Maarten Martens thanks to a pulled thigh.
The visitors are still without midfielder Nemanja Gudelj, however the Serbian youth international is within week of returning from knee surgery.
Charles Kazlauskas is struggling with a calf injury suffered in last week's win over FC Oss, and will not make the trip with Helmond to Sparta Rotterdam on Friday as they try to stretch their unbeaten run to 11 games.