Pascal Jansen was full of praise for Dundee United after their Europa Conference League defeat at Tannadice on Thursday – but the AZ Alkmaar boss insists his side have the capabilities to turn the tie on its head.
Glenn Middleton’s stunning second-half strike was the difference between the two teams at Tannadice, but the visitors had their fair share of chances, with Terrors goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, producing a number of important stops.
AZ begin their Eredivise campaign against Go Ahead Eagles this weekend before welcoming United to Holland on Thursday.
Ahead of the return leg, Jansen explained: “European football is a must for us every season. We fought hard last season to get into the qualifying spot for the Conference League and did well in the last round.
“We scored five goals and had two clean sheets. We didn’t keep a clean sheet in Dundee but as I told my boys, we are at half-time now and we have to prepare for the second half next week.
“That is what we are going to do. We were not surprised by United because we had done our homework on them. But there was a part during the first half where we didn’t have our pressing at the level we are looking for.
“We gave them too much time to get into their patterns. I discussed that with the players at half-time and we will have to focus on that next week too.
“When we watched United we saw a lot of play going through the air, with physical fights and strong headers. You see Fletcher, he is very strong in the air with his head - which is something we anticipated.
“We controlled that for long parts of the game but there were a few moments where we didn’t control it. We got into important spaces and into positions where we should have done better.
“But the final pass or the one before the final pass wasn’t good enough. We have been working on that in the last few weeks and it will be our focus again leading up to next week’s game.”
Jansen also hailed the Dundee United support for helping their team gain an important advantage heading into the second leg.
He added: “I have tremendous respect for the Dundee United fans because they supported their team from the first minute to the last.
“They really backed their team and even though I am the coach of their opponents, that is something I can appreciate.
“I am looking forward to the second leg now and I know for sure our crowd will support us like that.”