Let me start with an admission, Werder Bremen are not a team I like to oppose, when on song, they are capable of beating anybody and can score goals very quickly.
However, tonight seems to be as good as time as any, to take them on. They are not in the greatest form and have only scored once in three starts. Several players are unavailable to face AZ, the most important of which is Per Metesacker, their key central defender.
Bremen have closed the gap on leaders Schalke to just two points in the race for the Bundesliga title and will have one eye on their weekend trip to Dortmund.
I do not feel there is too much difference in quality between the top of their respective domestic leagues, where AZ are similarly placed, two points off the lead. Of course, the overall standard of the Bundesliga is stronger, but as I say, the top teams seem on a par. Therefore, the huge odds available about the visitors tonight, seem puzzling.
AZ will be boosted by the return of Schaars and Arveladze, who will be looking to add to his total of 7 UEFA Cup goals. Louis van Gaal's huge European experience will be invaluable and he will, no doubt, be looking to hit Bremen on the break.
His side have had great success on the road this season, winning 15 of 23 starts, scoring 3 or more, on ten occasions. They have notched 13 goals in their previous 5 away ties in this competition and it is hard to see them not adding to that tally this evening.
Van Gaal is confident of his sides chances, quoting them as 50/50 ( wish he would open a betting office) and they will be cheered by several thousand supporters who have made the short journey. The visitors and the handicap start for me.
4 points AZ Alkmaar +3/4 ball asian line 2.22. lost - 4 pts