PREVIEW: Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, PAOK

- PREVIEW: Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, PAOK -

Three Greek teams are in action in today’s UEFA Europa League Playoff Qualifying Round with Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, and PAOK. Panathinaikos plays at home to Brondby while both Olympiacos and PAOK travel away to Dinamo Tbilisi and Arouca, respectively. TV Listings for all the games can be found here.


europa league - playoff qualifying round, leg 1

Dinamo Tbilisi 12:00 PM (EST) PAOK

PAOK will travel to Dinamo Tbilisi with hopes of earning a result that will secure their place in the Europa League Group Stage. Like PAOK, Dinamo Tbilisi was eliminated in the Champions League 3rd qualifying round (lost both legs to Dinamo Zagreb). After two good displays against Ajax, PAOK is the heavy favorite to advance and has the theoretically easiest opponent of the three Greek teams.

Ivic is expected to use the same starting lineup and strategy as he used in the two legs against Ajax. Glykos will be under the goalposts with Leo Matos, Crespo, Tzavellas, and Leovac in front of him. The three midfielders will be Cimirot, Shakhov, and Charissis (or Canas) with Campos, Rodrigues, and Athanasiadis up front. There are no injuries to report from PAOK.

The referee will be Liran Liani from Israel. He has never refereed a Greek team and has been an international referee since 2010.

europa league - playoff qualifying round, leg 1

Panathinaikos 2:00 PM (EST) Brondby

After two solid performances against AIK in the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League, Panathinaikos will look to continue their positive start to the season with a win at home to Brondby (preferably without conceding). The Danes eliminated Hertha Berlin in the previous round and look to be good form. Last season, Brondby was thrashed 5-0 by PAOK in Thessaloniki for Europa League qualifying, however the team has much improved since last season. Panathinaikos is thought to have the most difficult task amongst the other two Greek teams.

Stramaccioni’s starting lineup plans are not clear. However with Moledo returning from injury, a formation with 3 stoppers is likely.

The referee will be István Vad from Hungary. Vad has refereed Panathinaikos on one previous occasion, in their 4-1 win against Midtjylland in Europa League qualifying (2014). He also refereed in Olympiacos 0-1 victory over Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League Round of 16 in 2012.

europa league - playoff qualifying round, leg 1

Arouca 3:00 PM (EST) Olympiacos

Olympiacos will travel to Arouca for Europa League qualifying after an embarrassing elimination to Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Champions League Qualifying. Although drastic changes were expected at the club, only a managerial switch has occurred. Paulo Bento is the new man in charge at Olympiacos and will hope for a positive start at his new club. A “normal” Olympiacos will not be threatened by the Portuguese side, however a performance similar to that against Be’er Sheva will result in an early exit from Europen play. Arouca finished 5th in last year’s Portuguese League and eliminated Heracles (from Holland) on away goals after two draws.

With minimal changes to the roster since their elimination, Bento will use a similar line-up to what former manager Victor Sanchez used against Be’er Sheva. However, Olympiacos star Kostas Fortounis suffered an injury in the final training session and is unlikely to play in the first leg. Kapino will be under the goalposts with Figueiras, da Costa (replacing injured Siovas), Botia, and de la Bella in front of him. Milivojevic and Cambiasso will play in the holding midfield positions while Seba and Pardo will be on the wings. Dominguez will take the place of the injured Fortounis while the lone striker will be Ideye. Bouchalakis is ruled out due to injury.

The referee will be Slavko Vinčić  from Slovenia. He has never refereed for a Greek team, but was in charge of APOEL's match against Rosenborg in this year's Champions League Qualifying (2-1 victory for Rosenborg).

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