AZ Alkmaar missing key players ahead of Celtic clash

By Euan Davidson

August 17, 2021

AZ Alkmaar will be without two of their best players for the Europa League play-off first leg against Celtic, while another is in doubt.

Teun Koopmeiners remains a doubt, after being benched for the loss against RKC Waalwijk. Two players certain to miss the tie are the suspended Jesper Karlsson and the injured Owen Wijndal [Football Oranje].

They have strengthened between the sticks, however. Peter Vindahl is likely to start against Celtic.

Left-back Wijndal is a particular miss for AZ. The Dutch prospect had an excellent 20-21, contributing with 6 assists in 34 Eredivisie appearances [WhoScored?]. Meanwhile, Danish forward Jesper Karlsson scored 11 and set up a further 9 in the league last season [WhoScored?].

Combined, the two international have the capability of providing real threat. Lucky for Celtic, then, that both will be out. Transfer speculation continues to mark Koopmeiners [Dutch News].

Granted, the Bhoys aren’t at full strength either. Fans are expecting updates on Ryan Christie and Liel Abada, while Christopher Jullien is still out with a lingering knee problem.

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The next fortnight could well define Celtic’s season

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That said, Pascal Jansen is probably in a more difficult position than his counterpart, Ange Postecoglou. While Jansen is happy to talk up the abilities of his squad, the fact is that a number of important players have left. And the best of those that remain are struggling for fitness, or are suspended.

AZ Alkmaar not in the rudest health prior to Celtic clash

None of this means we’ve automatically won. AZ Alkmaar remain a stern test for Postecoglou’s Celtic. In terms of Europa League opposition, Jansen’s side are as tough as it gets.

So, to take a win for granted before a ball is kicked would be utter folly. That said, we’ve found a potentially ideal time to play them.

Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images

We know ourselves that losing massive players at this point in the season can be devastating. But, AZ have lost 3 key players to Ligue 1. The best of those that remain will miss at least the first leg of the play-off.

That can only be a good thing where Celtic are concerned.

In front of a raucous support, the Bhoys have a huge chance to land a significant blow and all but ensure qualification for the Europa League.

Nothing’s ever straight-forward, though.

In other news: Our Predicted XI to face AZ Alkmaar

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