Preview: AZ Alkmaar vs. Norwich City

Preview: AZ Alkmaar vs. Norwich City

Norwich City travel to the Netherlands to take on AZ Alkmaar in a pre-season friendly on Wednesday as both sides ramp up their preparations for the upcoming campaign.

The Dutch side thrashed Polish club Lech Poznan 4-0 on Saturday, while the English outfit played out a goalless draw with German team Kaiserslautern last time out.

When Vangelis Pavlidis gave AZ Alkmaar an early lead against Lech Poznan on Saturday, the Cheeseheads looked destined to dominate their Polish visitors, but the goals dried up until the final 15 minutes.

Pascal Jansen made nine substitutions on the hour mark, with 20-year-old midfielder Mayckel Lahdo coming on to bag a late brace, while an own goal from Maksymilian Pingot completed the rout for the hosts.

That victory followed a 3-3 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk, who came from behind on three occasions to frustrate AZ, with Jansen making a total of 12 substitutions to get minutes into the legs of his players.

The Cheeseheads enjoyed a successful 2022-23 campaign, finishing fourth in the Eredivisie while reaching the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League, only to fall to eventual champions West Ham United.

It is also worth pointing out that Alkmaar conceded fewer goals than second-placed PSV Eindhoven and third-placed Ajax last term, underling the team’s defensive solidity.

Preview: AZ vs. Norwich – prediction, team news, lineups

Norwich City have already played four friendlies this month, picking up two wins and two draws in the process, so the Canaries will be eager to extend their unbeaten pre-season run on Wednesday.

Following a 1-1 draw with Barnet, Norwich thrashed King’s Lynn Town 6-1 before defeating Darmstadt 1-0, with last weekend’s goalless draw against Kaiserslautern maintaining the club’s promising pre-season preparations.

It goes without saying that Norwich endured a disappointing 2022-23 campaign, as the Norfolk outfit finished 13th in the Championship – seven points outside the playoff places – after losing four of their final five matches.

The Canaries parted ways with Dean Smith in late December and appointed David Wagner as manager in the new year, but the former Huddersfield Town boss failed to turn things around, overseeing seven wins, five draws and nine losses.

Norwich gained promotion to the Premier League in 2019 and 2021 as winners of the Championship but were relegated as the top-flight’s bottom club in 2020 and 2022, so Wagner will be determined to establish a sense of stability at Carrow Road.

AZ Alkmaar friendly form:

Norwich City friendly form:

We say: AZ Alkmaar 2-1 Norwich City
Wednesday’s clash looks set to be a close-fought battle as both managers aim to give minutes to as many players as possible, but we expect AZ Alkmaar to edge out Norwich City.

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