Verbeek: 'Wonderful to play games like this'

Published on 28 maart 12, 00:00
ALKMAAR- Gertjan Verbeek and goalkeeper Esteban looked ahead to Thursday’s game at home to Valencia at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “We are hit by Celso Ortiz and Etiënne Reijnen injury woe, but the positive news from the treatment table comes from Jozy Altidore.”

Ortiz and Reijnen have been added to the lengthening list of absentees on Thursday. Roy Beerens is ruled out with injury for some weeks, while Nick Viergever serves a one-match ban. “Etiënne Reijnen sustained an injury in a ridiculously harsh challenge from Nicklas Pedersen during the game of the AZ reserves against FC Groningen and Celso picked up a knock. Reijnen walks with crutches and Ortiz was stretchered off the pitch in the same match”, said Verbeek.

Gertjan Verbeek has added the talented youth players Mattias Johansson, Thomas Lam and Giliano Wijnaldum to the senior squad. Verbeek: “I’m confident they can perform at their best level. These players are on the fringes of the first-team squad hoping to make the step soon. They deserve a chance to make a first-team appearance.”

Altidore came off the bench to replace Charlison Benschop during AZ´s home game to RKC Waalwijk; the American will be included in the starting line-up against Valencia. “We will put our best players on the field”, said Verbeek. “Jozy Altidore put in a poor display against Heracles, but he felt ill. He still was not fully fit when he was brought on in the RKC game, but he did well as a substitute.”

Asked for his opinion about Thursday’s opponents, Verbeek responded: “Valencia are currently lying in third place in one of the strongest leagues in Europe. I think they are a better team than Udinese, so we will face a tall task. Valencia play the style of football with which Barcelona have conquered the world. Valencia play more attack-minded than Udinese, who rather adopt a defensive strategy. We may now be offered an opportunity to quickly switch between and attack.”

Esteban is also aware of Valencia’s good run of form: “Valencia put in all-round team performances and I have a huge respect for them. Roberto Soldado is a great striker, but there’s more to Valencia than just Soldado. If we can win the game? We have our own qualities. We must have the ambition to win trophies with AZ.”

Verbeek concluded by saying: “It’s wonderful to play games like this one. These are massive games that you play only a few times in your life. We are enjoying ourselves and every time we go out we are eager to find out how we will cope with difficult conditions. We will stick to our game plan and I think we can maybe surprise them. Irrespective of the result, we should walk off the field knowing we have given our all.”