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Dec 21, 2021 at 8pm UK
AZAZ Alkmaar
Karlsson (68')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Buijs (12'), de Leeuw (28'), Duarte (78'), Dammers (87')
Kasanwirjo (4')

Preview: AZ Alkmaar vs. Groningen - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: AZ Alkmaar vs. Groningen - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Eredivisie clash between AZ Alkmaar and Groningen, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

In-form AZ Alkmaar will be looking to cap off a fine end to 2021 when they welcome Groningen to the AFAS Stadion on Tuesday night.

The hosts have climbed up to sixth in the Eredivisie table courtesy of a four-match winning streak, while Groningen are 10 points behind them in 12th.

Match preview

AZ will not want 2021 to come to an end on current form, heading into their final game of the calendar year on a six-match winning run across all competitions, including four on the bounce in the Eredivisie.

The Cheeseheads' unbeaten run stretches back even further to November 7, while they have not lost to a team outside of the Eredivisie's 'big three' for almost two months.

Incidentally, that last such loss came in the reverse fixture against Groningen, who ran out 2-0 winners in October to move to within two points of AZ.

Contrasting fortunes since then have seen the gap grow to 10 points now, as AZ make a charge to repeat the top-four finish they have achieved in each of the last four seasons.

Victory on Tuesday could be enough to lift them up into fourth, depending on how Vitesse fare against PEC Zwolle earlier in the day, and Pascal Jansen will be confident that his side can hold up their end of the bargain.

The hosts are unbeaten in their last 11 home games across all competitions, winning 10 of those, and have only lost once in front of their own fans all season - in their opening home game of the campaign against PSV Eindhoven.

That will not make positive reading for a Groningen side that have one of the worst defensive records away from home this season, shipping 20 goals in their nine such outings.

Four of those came in a 4-2 defeat to Heracles on Saturday - their fifth away league loss of the season - although they have been better on the road recently having won three on the bounce prior to that weekend result.

Indeed, Saturday's reverse was their first loss in any competition for six games and only their second in 12 outings stretching back to September.

Even so, Danny Buijs's side are currently on course for their joint-lowest Eredivisie finish in a decade, sitting in 12th place and closer to the relegation playoff spots than the top seven.

Victory over an AZ side full of confidence would hint at a brighter second half of the season, and that cannot be ruled out having already overcome Tuesday's opposition once this term.

AZ Alkmaar Eredivisie form:
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

AZ Alkmaar form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Groningen Eredivisie form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L

Groningen form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L

Team News

AZ are blessed with a near fully-fit squad to choose from heading into the winter break, with Jeremy Helmer their only absentee due to injury.

Jesper Karlsson has scored five goals in his last six games across all competitions and is again expected to start in a front three alongside fellow joint top-scorer Vangelis Pavlidis.

Dani de Wit can now match their tally of seven league goals this season, having ended a 10-game drought against Willem II on Saturday.

Groningen will be without Damil Dankerlui through injury once again, while Radinio Balker is a doubt for the game.

Twenty-one-year-old forward Cyril Ngonge has been their main danger man this year, already surpassing his goal tally for the whole of last season with seven in 16 Eredivisie appearances.

AZ Alkmaar possible starting lineup:
Vindahl; Witry, Hatzidiakos, Martins Indi, Wijndal; Clasie, De Wit, Midtsjo; Sugawara, Pavlidis, Karlsson

Groningen possible starting lineup:
Leeuwenburgh; Te Wierik, Kasanwirjo, Sverko, Van Hintum; Dammers, Duarte; Suslov, Ngonge, De Leeuw; Larsen

We say: AZ Alkmaar 2-1 Groningen

Saturday's defeat was a setback for Groningen, but they have been difficult to beat in recent months and AZ will not need telling how dangerous they can be having already lost to them once this season.

That said, the hosts come into this match in flying form and they should have enough to continue their winning run, although it is unlikely to be straightforward for them.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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1PSV EindhovenPSV18141346242243
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18PEC Zwolle181314932-236
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