Celtic opponents AZ Alkmaar bench star man and suffer shock defeat

By Euan Davidson

August 14, 2021

Celtic face a wounded AZ Alkmaar on Wednesday, after today’s Eredivisie action saw the side lose to RKC Waalwijk.

Star man and captain Teun Koopmeiners was sensationally benched for the start of AZ’s defeat. While he did come on after an hour, it will only fuel rumours of an imminent exit from the AFAS Stadium.

A goal from Michiel Kramer was enough to separate the sides on the opening weekend of Eredivisie fixtures. AZ were already missing another big talent in Owen Wijndal. In his stead, Thijs Oosting endured a difficult time of it.

Despite dominating possession, the defensive efficiency of RKC was enough to see out a talented, albeit threadbare AZ side. Pascal Jansen has seen a number of top players leave this summer.

That showed in Waalwijk, with the attacking expertise of Calvin Stengs and Myron Boadu both missing. The duo joined Nice and Monaco respectively in the summer window.

What could be most interesting to Celtic supporters was the performance of AZ’s keeper, Hobie Verhulst. After the departure of Marco Bizot, Verhulst has been handed the gloves, but struggled against RKC. WhoScored? rated the ‘keeper a less than impressive 5.8 for his efforts.

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“Josip Juranovic wanted to join Celtic” – Croatian journalist Ižak Ante Sučić

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Celtic should be smelling blood in the water ahead of AZ Alkmaar meeting

This isn’t to say that AZ Alkmaar have become useless overnight. Far from it, and we’d be daft to underestimate a side who finished third in the Dutch top-flight last season.

Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images

However, they’re clearly a team in flux. Some of their best players have either left, or look to be unsettled. Key men, like right-back Jonas Svensson, have left leadership voids, and their goalkeeping situation doesn’t inspire great confidence.

Right-back and goalkeeping issues… where have we heard that before?

It’s evidence, certainly, that they’re fallible. And, that they have weaknesses that Celtic can absolutely look to exploit. With real issues down either flank, Postecoglou will surely be looking to the likes of Christie, Abada and Forrest to cause chaos at Celtic Park.

At the very least, it’s a good omen for the Bhoys. How Postecoglou and his coaching staff proceed on Wednesday will be very interesting indeed.

In other news: Celtic B Team run riot