Prior to any matches, Alaves bought central defender Felix Eboa Eboa from us for €5M. We did not want to sell him but he wanted to see more playing time, something we could not guarantee him.
vs. Ajax (Away)
For the second year in a row we face off with Ajax in the JC Schaal and once again we have our sites on bigger things with a Champions League Qualifier coming in a few days we rotated the squad. Ajax capitalized with a goal by Ahmed Smit in the 5th minute grabbing the early lead which they would hold throughout. Gerard Bucker added another goal in the 70th minute and we were never really a threat. A far contrast from last year's goal fest.
Ajax 2, AZ 0
Best Placed Third Qualifying Phase - First Leg
vs. Krasnodar (Away)
Krasnodar was far more competitive than we were expecting but keep in mind we are still missing Boldt, Danchenko, and Guerra at this point. We were fortunate to be even at the half with a very poor start to the match, they were in control for the first 45 minutes but it was scoreless at the break. Their 19-year old wonderkid, Andrey Tereschenko, opened the scoring in the 55th minute. As we were headed towards the end of the match it looked like we would be heading home down 1-0 but Richard Meendering came on for Ole ter Haar Romeny in the 76th minute and scored the equalizer 7 minutes later off a great pass from Calvin Stengs.
Krasnodar 1, AZ 1
Match Day 1
vs. N.E.C. (Home)
Another heavily rotated side for us but this time we hammer N.E.C. right from the start with three first half goals - Kenzo Goudmijn (25'), Guus Til (28'), and Meendering (39'). They scored just before the break to give them some hope but we controlled the second half, however failing to score until injury time with Mohamed Taabouni scoring. Giovani Troupee had 2 assists on the night.
AZ 4, N.E.C. 1
Best Placed Third Qualifying Phase - Second Leg
vs. Krasnodar (Home)
We were fortunate to grab an early goal from Fredrik Midtsjo in the 17th minute, assisted by Marcos Arena. From there on out we were able to control the match, only allowing them 3 shots on the night with just 1 on target. We cruised to a quiet 1-0 victory, winning on aggregate 2-1.
AZ 1 (2), Krasnodar 0 (1)
Match Day 2
vs. PSV (Away)
Our fourth match in 10 days with another CL match coming in 3, once again we rotated the side heavily happily seeking a draw. We actually played really well and should have had at least 1 goal to show for it but were dreadful in front of the goal. It's a bore draw with not much to report otherwise.
PSV 0, AZ 0
Best Placed Playoff - First Leg
vs. Galatasaray (Home)
Galatasaray beat AEK 1-1 on away goals in their Third Qualifying Phase matchup. We opened the scoring in the 24th minute on a goal by Rafael Leao but they answered a minute later to send us to the half, 1-1. The second half was a different story, as we dominated and should have done more. We end up adding two goals to win easily, Midtsjo (53') and Meendering (86'). We head to Galatasaray with a nice 3-1 advantage. Dirk Boldt made his debut for the club and was magnificent with 2 assists, while winning Player of the Match.
AZ 3, Galatasaray 1
Match Day 3
vs. ADO Den Haag (Home)
We cut the ribbon on the new stadium expansion this afternoon with a sellout crowd but we disappointed them massively. For sure we rotated the squad once again but we surely could do better than this. They got the only goal of the match in the 38th minute by 18-year old Bruno Freitas from Portugal. Oleg Danchenko came on late and created a late and created a few chances late but we failed to make them count once. Nicolas Guerra made his season debut after recovering from the torn calf muscle he suffered against Ajax late last season.
AZ 0, ADO Den Haag 1
Best Placed Playoff - Second Leg
vs. Galatasaray (Away)
Barring a complete defensive meltdown we were in good shape heading into this one. It got even better with Leao scoring in the 3rd minute. We were never really threatened throughout the match and cruised to win. Troupee won Player of the Match
Galatasaray 0 (1), AZ 1 (4)
Midtsjo only appeared in the four Champions League Qualifying matches but was outstanding with 7.75 average match rating. He scored 2 goals (matching last year's total) and connected on 88% of his passes with 9 key passes. He also won 100% of his tackles, a great month for him.
Hatzidiakos suffered a broken hand during training on the 13th of August, normally we would opt to have him see a specialist but we are already short handed at center back and opted to have him wear protective gear to get us by. He is expected to be fully healed by the end of September, while we urgently look to add a fourth option in the back.
Ajax looks unbeatable at the moment winning their first four matches by a score of 14-2. However, they have been completely focused on the league. Unfortunately for us we have dug ourselves a bit of a hole. The lost to ADO Den Haag does not seem so bad with them starting the season very well, they could be this year's PEC Zwolle. Who by the way look terrible so far!
This year's draw is much more manageable but it will still be quite difficult. Chelsea look ridiculously good, their top 20 players are all valued at over €20M - including Anthony Martial, Gedson Fernandes, Frenkie de Jong, Moussa Dembele, Goncalo Guedes, Matthijs de Ligt and more. Their only weakness is Unai Emery is their manager.
Both Monaco and Hertha BSC have a ton of young talent too.
Another busy month with a international break in between. Fortunately, the KNVB Beker match forces some re-arrangement of league matches which will give us some breathing room but not much.