Our prediction for this Europa League match:
AEK play host to Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis in the first leg of the Europa League play-offs. Despite sharing the spoils with Universitatea in Athens, the Greek side made it to the final qualifying round, but they face an uphill task in the two-legged tie against Trabzonspor. The Turkish outfit did remarkably well to beat Sparta Prague in the third qualifying round and they are seen as favourites to win the double-header against Vaclav Jilek’s troops.
Trabzonspor are more of a team than AEK, but seeing that the Greeks are tough to beat at home, share of spoils is on the horizon. A man to keep an eye on in the home team will be Nelson Oliveira, who played for Premier League side Norwich City in the past, whilst AEK defenders should have Argentine midfielder Jose Sosa at bay.
Highlighted Player (Olcay Sahan):
Despite beginning his professional career as the member of Germany’s Under-17 set-up, Olcay Sahan decided to switch allegiance and represent the country of his parents’ descent. Dusseldorf-born Turkish international is a winger who can also be deployed as an attacking midfielder.
Usually deployed on the left side of the pitch, Sahan has been used as a playmaker by Fatih Terim at the international level. The 29-year-old is known for his quick pace, hard work and team spirit, which made him one of the fans’ favourite in Turkey.
Following spells with Borussia Monchengladbach, Duisburg and Kaiserslautern, Olcay Sahan moved to Besiktas in 2012 when he made an immediate impact for the Black Eagles. He has so far made more than 130 Super Lig appearances, scored and assisted more than 30 goals respectively, at the same time establishing himself as first-team regular and one of the most important players for the club.
Highlighted Team (AEK Athens):
Established in 1924, AEK Athens are one of a number of Greek clubs based in Athens. The Enosis (Union) are well known for their passionate fans and Original 21 are considered the club’s main supporters’ group. AEK Athens play their home games in black shirts with yellow stripes and black shorts, while they often wear gray jerseys and yellow shorts when facing their rivals on the road.
Olympic Stadium in Athens is the club’s home ground and the venue can hold up to 69.618 people. AEK share rivalries with fellow capital clubs Panathinaikos and Olympiakos and the rivalry with Olympiakos was inflamed in 1996, when AEK former ace and then-coach joined the Thrylos. AEK have 12 Greek Super League trophies, but it has to be noted that they clinched their last domestic title back in 1994.
Speaking of the Greek Cup, the Enosis won their 15th trophy in the competition in 2016, with the team beating Olympiakos in the title game. In the 1966/1967 season AEK made it to the UEFA Cup semis, but Italian giants Juventus proved to be a big catch for the Greek side.