AZ can make playoffs unnecessary – AZ talents ahead in Youth League
AZ talents in lead in Youth League
AZ talents went to rest with a 2-1 lead in the UEFA Youth League semifinals against Sporting Portugal’s peers.
Diogo Cabral shot the Portuguese into the lead after nine minutes with a wonderful peal. Ernest Poku equalized after thirty minutes by working in his sixth goal in the Youth League.
Ro-Zangelo Daal’s 2-1 in the 36th minute was the most beautiful goal before halftime. The AZ striker shot the ball into the goal from the left side of the pitch with a beautiful curve and via the post.
The other Youth League semifinal is between the talents of AC Milan and Hajduk Split.
AZ title may make playoffs European soccer unnecessary
An eventual title for AZ in the Conference League could make European playoffs in the premier league unnecessary.
Should AZ finish in fifth place in the premier league, the playoffs for European soccer will no longer make sense, as AZ already holds the fifth European ticket.
The Alkmaarders will receive a ticket for the group stage of the Europa League if they win the Conference League.
The winner of the playoffs now gains entry to the second preliminary round of the Conference League. So that ticket expires if AZ wins the Conference League and finishes in fifth place.
Incidentally, there is still a long way to go, as AZ is now five points ahead of number five Sparta in the premier league standings.
The KNVB is aware of this scenario, but will only make a decision at a later stage once things become concrete.
Van Nistelrooij: ‘Winning starting point, unless match goes differently’
PSV hopes to create a gap with Ajax on Sunday regarding the battle for second place.
Still, as far as coach Ruud van Nistelrooij is concerned, next Sunday is not necessarily a matter of “having to. “Winning the match is our starting point, but you don’t know how the match will go,” said the coach.
PSV is battling with Ajax for second place. The clubs are equal in points, so a win would help the club from Eindhoven. “But there are still four games to play after that, which are also 12 points,” Van Nistelrooij pointed out.
‘Match in itself’
Van Nistelrooij says he has little to gain from PSV’s previous duels with Ajax. The Eindhoven natives won the last three encounters. “Every match stands on its own,” he believes.
He doesn’t think PSV is in better shape than Ajax at the moment. “No, but I prefer to focus on ourselves. I don’t feel that way about whether we are better or worse. That doesn’t matter to me either.”
Suspended Spurs technical director leaves
Technical director Fabio Paratici is leaving Tottenham Hotspur effective immediately. The former player had already temporarily resigned his position at the English club after he was suspended for involvement in financial misconduct at Juventus.
The suspension has been upheld on appeal. He worked at Juventus between 2010 and 2021 before moving to Tottenham.
Juventus already received a 15-point deduction for financial misconduct. But Italy’s highest sports court suspended this punishment for the time being because the case needs to be reviewed. However, the club has not been acquitted and the directors remain suspended, including Paratici.
Among other things, Juventus is accused of not being honest about transfer values of players in the past. Juventus also allegedly secretly paid out players during the first months of the corona crisis. This while the club reported that all players had surrendered four months of salary.
Cocu back on the bench at Vitesse
Phillip Cocu returns to the Vitesse bench this weekend after a two-week absence. The former international resumed his duties on Thursday. Vitesse plays Saturday at home against Excelsior (9 p.m.).
The 52-year-old Cocu underwent surgery two weeks ago because of acute appendicitis. He was soon allowed home then, but was hospitalized again a day later due to complications. As a result, he also missed last weekend’s Gelderland derby, the match against NEC.
“I hope to be back on the pitch by myself soon, but for now I have to prioritize my health,” Cocu revealed. He was replaced by assistant coach Chris van der Weerden. With Van der Weerden on the bench, Vitesse won twice, from Go Ahead Eagles (2-0) and NEC (1-4).
Vitesse is number 13 in the premier league.
Ryan and Meerdink AZ heroes
AZ won over Anderlecht on Thursday after penalty kicks.
Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan became the hero of the Alkmaarders with two turned penalties, while 19-year-old Mexx Meedrink shot the decisive ball with a fine peal.
“To Mexx’,” thought coach Pascal Jansen. “That’s how he generally takes his penalties. A very steady, clean kick where you really have to goaltend very well if you want to hit the ball.”
The son of former AZ attacker Martijn Meerdink enjoyed his highlight. “We did it as a team. For me it was a fantastic moment. You dream about that.”
Meerdink on decisive penalty kick AZ: ‘Was completely focused’