AZ Alkmaar take on the visitors Sparta Rotterdam in the round 5 match of Dutch Eredivisie. The match will be played on Sunday, September 17th at AFAS Stadion (Alkmaar).
AZ have taken the lead in the championship so far, with 3 matches and 3 wins to their name. As for the upcoming match, it won't be so straightforward for Alkmaar. In the opening rounds, they faced clear underdogs in the league, so it wasn't surprising that AZ secured victories. However, the situation has changed now, as their upcoming opponent is a strong mid-table team, not an underdog. Sparta looked decent last season and even managed to defeat AZ. AZ's defense hasn't been perfect at the start of the season, conceding goals in 2 out of 3 championship matches. Similarly, in the qualification matches for European competitions, AZ's defense hasn't been particularly strong. Facing a challenging opponent like Sparta won't be easy for them.
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Sparta finished last season in 6th place, while AZ finished in 4th place. So, you could say that the teams were relatively evenly matched last season. Sparta have had a decent start to the new season, with 4 matches without a loss, alternating between draws and wins. It's worth noting that they faced tough opponents in these opening matches, including a draw against the reigning champions Feyenoord with a 2-2 score. In the upcoming match, although bookmakers are favoring AZ, it's a meeting of two fairly equal teams.
Bookmakers are actively favoring the hosts of this match. However, in reality, it's a clash between two evenly matched teams. Therefore, one could consider a betting option that covers various possible outcomes. My choice here is to bet on Sparta with a +1.5 handicap. I believe that AZ will face difficulties in this match, and if they win, it will likely be by a narrow margin.
Prediction for the match: Sparta Rotterdam to win with +1.5 handicap.