Our prediction for this Europa Conference League match:
Bolt Arena will host Thursday’s Europa League game between HJK and PAOK. Helsinki aim to claim a major scalp in the Group G opener, but they will have to be at 110% if they are to shock the Greek outfit. A man to keep an eye on in the home team will be forward Bojan Radulovic, who has netted 16 goals in the Finnish top flight so far this season.
The Eagles, on the other hand, played out a boring goalless draw with Aris at the weekend, but they are still seen as hot favourites to beat Helsinki in the Finnish capital. PAOK are a more experienced side than HJK and we predict that the visitors are going to prove their worth on the field. A man to watch in the visiting team will be Serbia winger Andrija Zivkovic, who is likely to prove a handful for the opposition back-line.
Highlighted Player (Vieirinha):
Better known as Vieirinha, Adelino Andre Vieira de Freitas originates from Guimaraes, and it was at Vitoria Guimaraes that he spent seven years before joining FC Porto academy in 2002. Despite getting promoted to the senior side in 2005, the winger was never given a chance to impress at Estadio do Dragao and following several loan spells, he opted to sign for Greek giants PAOK.
Vieirinha clearly profited from exposure to first team football, scoring 18 goals in 78 league matches for the club. His impressive displays did not go unnoticed and Wolfsburg soon came calling. Despite arriving at the club as a right winger, the Portuguese footballer was eventually converted to right-back near the end of the 2014/2015 season and has since impressed in his new position.
After representing his country at various youth levels, Vieirinha received his first call-up to the senior squad in November 2011, but he had to wait until March 2013 to be handed his debut. The experienced footballer, nonetheless, secured his place in the 2014 World Cup squad, making one appearance at the tournament finals.
Highlighted Team (PAOK):
PAOK are regarded as one of the most famous clubs in Greece. The club’s biggest rivals are Olympiakos, but they have a great rivalry with local rivals Aris as well. The Double-headed eagle play their home games at Toumba Stadion Thessaloniki and the capacity of the venue is 28 803.
PAOK are a real force to be reckoned with at home, but they often struggle when playing on the travels. The club won their first Greek Superleague title in 1976 and nine years later their clinched their second domestic trophy, finishing the season three points clear of Panathinaikos.
Speaking of the club’s European success, the Black and Whites made it to the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1973/1974 season, but they were outplayed by Italian giants Milan in the two-legged tie. PAOK were founded on 20 April, 1926 and they play their home games in black and white shirts and black shorts. The club’s away colours are white.