Europa League Preview: Schalke - PAOK

-- Europa League Preview: Schalke - PAOK --
 

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - ROUND OF 32 (LEG 2)

Schalke 12:00 PM PAOK
(3 - 0)
Agg.

Georgios Tsitsonis from AGONAsport.com brings you a full preview for PAOK’s second leg matchup against Schalke in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

 

OVERVIEW
 

PAOK head to the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on Wednesday knowing full well that a ‘Mission Impossible’ awaits them. In Tuesday’s Round of 32, 2nd Leg Europa League encounter, Vladan Ivic’s are tasked with overturning a 3-0 home defeat from six days ago. While that seems to be a far-fetched scenario, PAOK travel to Germany with hope at least of an improvement.

A goal midway through the first half by  Schalke’s Guidi Burgstaller set the tone in the 1st leg encounter. However PAOK were at least in the tie still until the last 10 minutes. That’s when two more goals by Max Meyer and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar put the result beyond doubt on the night and as far as qualification to the next round goes.

More than anything, it will be purpose of pride that the Greek side play for on Wednesday night. With their league form looking great over the last two months, a result at the Veltins Arena could give the Thessaloniki club a real boost heading into the latter part of the season.


TEAM NEWS
 

SCHALKE: Markus Weinzierl is set to ring the changes in this 2nd leg match. After fielding mostly the same starting eleven in the matches against PAOK and Koln, the Schalke boss stated in his press conference on Tuesday that he will make as many as 5-7 changes to his line-up in order to rotate his squad. 

The German team’s only real injury concern was Leon Goretzka. But, after participating in training in the last few days, the midfielder is available for selection.

PAOK: Ivic is expected to keep the faith with the majority of the players who led PAOK to a 4-0 win over Veria on Sunday. Unfortunately, that will not include red-hot Swiss striker Aleksandar Prijovic. The 26-year-old January signing is cup-toed having played in Europe earlier this season for Legia Warsaw in the Champions’ League.

That will see a return up front for Stefanos Athanasiadis more than likely as the Greek international leads the PAOK attack. Another January acquisition, Pedro Henrique, a substitute in the 1st leg, is expected to get the starting nod for this match.


POTENTIAL LINE-UPS
 

SCHALKE: Fahrmann, Howedes, Kehrer, Badstuber, Geis, Konoplyanka, Aogo, Meyer, Kolasinac, Huntelaar, Choupo-Moting

PAOK: Glykos, Matos, Varela, Malezas, Kitsiou, Kace, Shakhov, Campos, Warda, Henrique, Athanasiadis


RECENT FORM
 

SCHALKE: DWWWD

  • 2/19/17 Koln-Schalke 1-1 (German Bundesliga)
  • 2/16/17 PAOK-Schalke 0-3 (Europa League Round of 16)
  • 2/11/17 Schalke-Hertha Berlin 2-0 (German Bundesliga)
  • 2/8/17 Sandhausen-Schalke 1-4 (German DFB Pokal)
  • 2/4/17 Bayern Munich-Schalke 1-1 (German Bundesliga)

PAOK: WLDWW

  • 2/19/17 PAOK-Veria 4-0 (Greek SuperLeague)
  • 2/16/17 PAOK-Schalke 0-3 (Europa League Round of 16)
  • 2/12/17 Xanthi-PAOK 0-0 (Greek SuperLeague)
  • 2/9/17 Xanthi-PAOK 1-2 (Greek Cup Quarterfinal 1st Leg)
  • 2/5/17 PAOK-Asteras Tripolis 3-2 (Greek SuperLeague)

PREDICTIONS
 

The 1st leg score leaves little room for talking about PAOK’s chances to advance to the next stage. However, o Dikefalos tou Vorra have shown a real knack over the last few seasons to beat more established European teams away from home. Even with the wholesale changes, Schalke do not lose much with their expected rotation. Weinzierl has a deep squad, which allows him to tinker on a consistent basis.

PAOK have the ability to grab a result and without the expectation on their shoulders to go to Germany and try to progress they may spring a shock. That said, the smart money is on another German win, though in a closer match than most observers would expect.


TV LISTINGS
 

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by: Giorgos Tsitsonis. Contact the writer at tsitsonisg.agonasport@gmail.com
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