Anzhi v AZ Alkmaar preview
AZ Alkmaar coach Dick Advocaat will not take Anzhi Makhachkala's poor league position into account as he looks to guide his side into the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
The Dutch side won 1-0 at home last week in the first leg courtesy of a first-half penalty converted by Aron Johannsson and will be hoping to reach the last eight with a positive result against Anzhi in Moscow on Thursday.
Advocaat, who has previous experience of managing in Russia from spells with Zenit St Petersburg and the national team, is looking forward to the tie and will not be underestimating Anzhi, despite the fact they sit bottom of the Russian Premier League.
"I think it's very nice to be back in Russia," he said.
"The five years that I have worked in Russia as a trainer are a highlight in my career. Anzhi are a physically strong team and we must arm ourselves against that.
"Anzhi are bottom in Russia, but that says more about the strength of the competition. People in Holland are often dismissive about the level of football in Russia, but that is wrong.
"Anzhi made a strong impression on us and they were very clever on Monday evening at Spartak Moscow (a 2-2 draw) because they are a title contender."
Anzhi defender Andrei Eschenko believes Gadzhi Gadzhiev's side will take confidence from their performance in the first leg and reckons a replica of that display will see the Russian outfit advance.
"We were unlucky in the Netherlands," he said.
"AZ didn't do anything special and scored from the penalty spot. We had four or five great chances. If we take our chances in the next leg, we will qualify. In the end we didn't lose 5-0, so you always have a chance.
"We want to go as far as possible. The league is our priority, but that doesn't mean Europe is not important. We always want to play there."