4 October 2019
For the first time in history, AZ Alkmaar and Manchester United will face-off in European competition, with two sides going head-to-head at the Cars Jeans Stadion for the UEFA Europa League (EL) clash.
Three consecutive Eredivisie triumphs, all accompanied by a clean sheet, were AZ’s response to a 2-2 away draw with Partizan Belgrade in the EL curtain-raiser. The hosts’ road to the EL group stage has started in the second qualifying round with a 3-0 aggregate win over BK Häcken (0-0 H, 3-0 A) and continued with a 4-0 aggregate success against the Ukranian side Mariupol (0-0 A, 4-0 H). AZ progressed to the group phase after extra time in the play-offs, bowing out Antwerp (1-1 H, 4-1 A). However, they have lost three of the last five EL group stage fixtures (W1, D1, L3), negotiating their way to the knockout stage in three of six group stage participations though.
Meanwhile, the visitors started their second-ever EL group stage appearance with a narrow 1-0 home triumph over Astana. The last time United began their EL journey in the group phase, they ended winning the competition under Jose Mourinho in 2016/17. Although they’ve rarely participated in the competition, the Red Devils enjoy playing in the Europa League. They are now unbeaten in 12 EL outings (W9, D3), with eight of those fixtures seeing them keep a clean sheet. But, the Premier League giants have endured mixed fortunes in the competition when away from home (W4, D2, L5) even though none of those defeats have come in the last five fixtures.
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