-- Preview: Qarabag - PAOK --
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - GROUP STAGE (GROUP J)
|Qarabag||1:00 PM (EST)||PAOK|
PAOK travels to Azerbaijan to play Qarabag in the third matchday of the Europa League group stage and AGONAsport.com brings you a preview of tomorrow’s match. Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM (EST). TV Listings for the United States, Canada, Australia, and Greece can be found here.
PAOK: PAOK will play their second consecutive away fixture in the Europa League when they travel to Azerbaijan to face the country’s champions, Qarabag. The Dikefalos tou Vora is coming off of a great win against their city rivals, Iraklis, in the Thessaloniki derby. In matchday 2 of the Europa League, PAOK came away with a very important win in the Czech Republic against Slovan Liberec, to gain an early advantage for second place in the group, which leads to a spot in the competition’s knockout stages. Against Qarabag, the Dikefalos tou Vora will hope, at minimum, to avoid defeat which will keep them 3-points ahead of Qarabag and Slovan Liberec (if they lose to points at home to Fiorentina) before they host the champions of Azerbaijan in matchday 4. A win for PAOK will put them with one foot in the next round of the competition.
Starting Line-up: PAOK’s final practice in Azerbaijan finished with some problems as Athanasiadis and Mystakidis (virus) are doubtful for tomorrow’s match. Additionally, Pelkas and Tzavellas have also been ruled out while Leovac’s availability will be decided at gametime. On the other hand, Malezas will be available. Ivic is expected to play PAOK in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Glykos (GK), Leo Matos (RB), Varela (CB), Crespo (CB), Leovac (LB), Cimirot (MF), Canas (MF), Campos (RMF), Biseswar (AMF), Rodrigues (LMF), and either Pereyra or Koulouris to take Athanasiadis’ place as the lone striker.
Qarabag: Qarabag is the most successful team in Azerbaijan in recent years, winning the league title for the past three seasons, including the double in 2015 and 2016. In Champions League qualifying they were knocked out by Viktoria Plzen and advanced to the Europa League group stages after eliminating Goteborg from Sweden in the qualifying round. In their opening two matches in Group J, Qarabag played to a 2-2 draw at home to Slovan Liberec and were thrashed 5-1 in Italy against Fiorentina in matchday 2. There is no question that PAOK is the better side, however it will be a tricky test for the Greek side as they travel a long way to Azerbaijan. This season, Qarabag sits in third place in the Azerbaijan Premier league after eight games, sitting 4 points behind league leaders Qabala. Over the weekend in league play, Qarabag easily defeated SumQayit 3-0. Against PAOK, Qarabag will play their final cards to finish in second place knowing that a win or draw will keep them alive.
Referee: The referee will be Alon Yefet from Israel. Yefet has refereed PAOK on one previous occasion, in 2003 where PAOK played to a goalless draw against Debreceni in Hungary. More recently, Yefet was in charge of AEK’s qualifier against Saint Etienne in this year’s Europa League 3rd Qualifying round, where AEK lost 0-1 and was eliminated from the competition.
TV Listings: TV listings for the United States, Canada, and Greece can be found here. As of now, there will not be coverage in Australia.
CURRENT GROUP J STANDINGS