Verbeek: ‘Udinese are favourites’

Published on 07 maart 12, 00:00
ALKMAAR- Gertjan Verbeek and Dirk Marcellis previewed Thursday’s Europa League match at home to Udinese in the press room of the AFAS Stadion on Wednesday afternoon. “Udinese are favourites to go through.”

“Rasmus Elm is making good progress with his calf injury and is set to start on Thursday”, said AZ coach Verbeek at the beginning of the press conference. Roy Beerens, who was substituted with a hamstring problem during AZ´s 3-1 win over Heracles Almelo, is also match fit again. But Maarten Martens is still troubled by a hamstring strain. Verbeek: “The medical staff will assess his fitness on Thursday. Charlison Benschop is out with a thigh injury.”

Ahead of the AZ v Udinese fixture, Verbeek was not willing to refer to the match as a clash of two different styles of play. “We’ll just wait and see if Udinese will adopt a defensive strategy. The Italians have developed their own philosophies, though, and a different way of thinking. Whether keeping a clean sheet on Thursday is a holy mission? Not at all. We play football to score goals rather than focus on not conceding goals.”

Verbeek: “Udinese are a top-tier Serie A team. They are eight points below leaders AC Milan. They have a good team. I think they have 45 first-team squad players to select from. You just can’t compare AZ to Udinese. Compare our budget with Udinese´s. I think they are favourites to win and go through to the next round.”

Marcellis has gained more wealth of European experience than the other 21 players that go out on Thursday night. “Whether I will benefit from it? It’s hard to explain what experience stands for. Just look at Adam Maher. He is only eighteen but he’s been playing like a first-team regular all season. As to Thursday’s opponents: ”We’ve met some unknown clubs in Europe in the group stages, so it’s very nice to face a renowned club like Udinese.”

AZ - Udinese is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 8, with a 21:05 CET kick-off.