Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Chelsea will be looking to keep their 100% record in Group L intact when they host PAOK at Stamford Bridge. The Blues qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League in style, with the team conceding only goal in the process to date. Coach Maurizio Sarri is likely to use Thursday’s football game to rest some of his first-team regulars, but regardless of which players will be deployed in the starting line-up, home win should be considered. The Greeks, on the other hand, have been struggling in the Europa League this term, with the team suffering three defeats, while recording only one victory in the process. Seeing that Chelsea are a real force to be reckoned with at home, we do not believe that PAOK are going to spoil the Blues’ party at Stamford Bridge in the penultimate group game.
Highlighted Player (Mateo Kovacic):
Born to Croatian parents in Linz, Austria, Mateo Kovacic spent seven years in the LASK Linz youth academy before joining Dinamo Zagreb, where he showed a great deal of potential shortly after being promoted to the senior squad.
The good return of 7 goals in 43 league appearances saw him secure a high-profile move to Inter Milan, where he acted as both holding midfielder and attacking midfielder, during the three years at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. And despite not exactly impressing in Italy, Kovacic was purchased by mighty Real Madrid, where he has been ever since. The youngster is widely regarded as one of Croatia’s most talented footballers at the moment and he has represented the country on international stage since the age of 19.
In just three years he managed to make over 25 appearances for the national team, playing at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 finals for Vatreni. Kovavic has yet to be given a real chance to impress at Real Madrid, but he has entire future ahead of him.
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.