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Europa Conference League | Group Stage
Dec 14, 2023 at 5.45pm UK
Stadion Miejski Legii Warszawa im. Marszalka Jozefa Pilsudskiego

2 - 0

Ribeiro (34'), Kramer (81')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Legia Warsaw vs. AZ Alkmaar - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Legia Warsaw vs. AZ Alkmaar - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa Conference League clash between Legia Warsaw and AZ Alkmaar, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

With both sides still in the race to book a place in the knockout stages alongside section leaders Aston Villa, Legia Warsaw will welcome AZ Alkmaar to Stadion Miejski on Thursday night in the Europa Conference League.

The hosts know that avoiding defeat on matchday six will be enough to secure their passage into the playoff round at least, while Alkmaar need to claim maximum points in the Polish capital to advance.

Match preview

Since the narrow 2-1 loss to Aston Villa on matchday five of this season's Conference League group stage, Legia Warsaw have endured mixed form domestically, winning one, drawing one and losing one of their last three matches, including a shock cup exit to first-tier strugglers Korona Kielce.

Last time out saw Kosta Runjaic's side record a 1-1 draw away against bottom team LKS Lodz, with a second-half strike from Pawel Wszolek cancelling out Jedrzej Zajac's opener for the hosts, who are nine points adrift at the bottom of the Ekstraklasa standings despite the point last time out.

Legia have been mightily impressive in the Conference League in front of their passionate home faithful so far this term, securing a 3-2 win over Unai Emery's Champions League-chasing Villans on matchday one before goals from Rafal Augustyniak and Josue helped the Polish giants to a comfortable success against Zrinjski Mostar on November 9.

The Militarians currently sit second in the Group E standings having collecting a respectable tally of nine points from five continental clashes, and now the only way Thursday's hosts can squander their spot in the next round is if they lose to their Dutch visitors.

Tomas Pekhart leads Legia's Golden Boot race in the Ekstraklasa with six goals from 15 appearances, but the Czech striker has drawn a blank in the Conference League group stage so far, with his most recent goal in Europe coming during the playoff-round clash with FC Midtjylland in late August.

The job for AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night is straightforward yet extremely challenging: collect three points from the Stadion Miejski and the Dutch outfit will secure a place in the playoff stage of the Conference League, meaning they would face a side who finishes third in one of the Europa League groups.

After failing to earn maximum points against either FC Utrecht or NEC since the beginning of December, AZ recorded a confidence-boosting success at home to newly-promoted Almere City on the weekend, with an Evangelos Pavlidis brace as well as goals from Dani de Wit and David Moller Wolfe helping the hosts to victory.

Greece international Pavlidis has enjoyed a stellar campaign for Alkmaar so far, making the net ripple on 18 occasions in 15 Eredivisie matches - a tally only Feyenoord's Santiago Gimenez can match - while also impressing on the European stage, giving the likes of Ezri Konsa and Clement Lenglet a difficult night at Villa Park on matchday four.

Despite winning four of their seven outings in the Dutch top flight, Pascal Jansen's side have been nowhere near as efficient on their travels in the Conference League, collecting zero points from two matches away from AFAS Stadion, with a win needed for progression in Warsaw on Thursday.

The reverse fixture between AZ and Legia centred around Mayckel Lahdo receiving his marching orders with 25 minutes to go following Pavlidis' opener, and despite plenty of pressure and possession from the Polish visitors, Jansen's charges were able to hold on for points that give them a chance of finishing inside the top two.

Legia Warsaw Europa Conference League form:

Legia Warsaw form (all competitions):

AZ Alkmaar Europa Conference League form:

AZ Alkmaar form (all competitions):

Team News

Legia Warsaw will be without the services of 19-year-old Ramil Mustafaev on Thursday night, with the defender yet to make an appearance this season due to a cruciate ligament injury.

The hosts could make some changes to the XI which drew against basement dwellers LKS last time out, meaning attackers Marc Gual and Gil Dias may be introduced into the side.

Blaz Kramer was handed a starting berth on the weekend but failed to register a shot on target against the Ekstraklasa's leakiest defence, so we expect the forward to drop to the bench for this one.

AZ Alkmaar are without first-choice goalkeeper Mathew Ryan due to an eye injury, meaning 30-year-old Hobie Verhulst is set to make his maiden first-team appearance of the term.

Sven Mijnans is still struggling with a knee injury and is not expected back in action until the middle of January, so Tiago Dantas and ex-Southampton man Jordy Clasie will continue in the engine room.

Winger Jens Odgaard was thrown into the action at half time during the thrashing of Almere and provided two assists in the second period, with the Dane potentially impressing enough to replace Ernest Poku in the starting XI.

Legia Warsaw possible starting lineup:
Tobiasz; Pankov, Augustyniak, Ribeiro; Wszolek, Slisz, Elitim, Kun; Josue, Gual, Muci

AZ Alkmaar possible starting lineup:
Verhulst; Sugawara, Goes, Pentra, Wolfe; Clasie, Dantas, Odgaard, Mihailovic, Van Brederode; Pavlidis

We say: Legia Warsaw 2-1 AZ Alkmaar

Legia have not been at their best of late, but a crucial Conference League clash in front of their passionate fanbase will raise performance levels by at least 5%.

AZ have a massive job on their hands as they try to keep their European dreams alive, and we feel that the Dutch side's participation in the competition will come to a dramatic end in Warsaw.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Premier League Table
1Jagiellonia BialystokJagiellonia33179774452960
2Slask Wroclaw33179748301860
3Legia WarsawLegia331511749381156
4Lech Poznan33141184639753
5Gornik ZabrzeGornik33158104540553
6Pogon SzczecinSzczecin331571158382052
7Rakow CzestochowaRakow331410953371652
8Zaglebie Lubin33138124248-647
9Piast GliwicePiast Gliwice3391683834443
10Widzew Lodz33127144245-343
11Stal Mielec331110124045-543
12KS CracoviaCracovia33815104544139
13Radomiak Radom33108154055-1538
14Warta Poznan33910143340-737
15Puszcza Niepolomice33813123849-1137
16Korona Kielce33714123843-535
17Ruch Chorzow33514143855-1729
18LKS Lodz3356223173-4221
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