Bohemians' journey continues at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night as they welcome Greek giants PAOK in the UEFA Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round, first leg. The Gypsies will be used to the sold-out capacity and hope to continue their
Bohemians' journey continues at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night as they welcome Greek giants PAOK in the UEFA Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round, first leg.
The Gypsies will be used to the sold-out capacity and hope to continue their impressive performances in Dublin 4. Thursday saw the home side defeat Luxembourg side F91 Dudelange 3-0 to advance 4-0 on aggregate. Star man Georgie Kelly grabbed his second brace in successive 3-0 victories at the Aviva Stadium and Keith Long will be hoping that trend continues in Round Three.
The second leg will take place at the Stadio Toumba – Salonika on Thursday August 12th at 8pm Irish time.
Tuesdays match kicks-off at 7.45pm and is available to watch for €10 on LOITV.
PAOK FC are based in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece and play their home games at the 29,000-seater Stadio Toumba.
Founded in 1926, the club is one of the most successful in Greece in recent years, winning the league title in 2018/2019 and runners-up in the three subsequent campaigns.
The Greek side are in pre-season and most recently defeated Dutch side Feyenoord last Sunday (July 25th). The victory on Sunday was their fourth game of pre-season so they are expected to be ready for competitive action on Tuesday.
Last season, PAOK had the fewest shots against in the Greek Super League with an average of 6.53 per game. They also had the second lowest ball loss rate and just two red cards all season, highlighting a well-disciplined setup.
Over the 36-game campaign, PAOK conceded 34 goals and they were defeated eight times compared to two defeats for the champions Olympiacos.
PAOK are a ball playing side and racked up an average of 430.49 pass per game, over 70 more than the league average last term. Of these passes, they ranked second in the league for success rate (83.6%).
The midfield likes to get the ball forward as the team scores highest in the table for passes to the final third and progressive runs.
On the attacking front, PAOK topped several the metrics. They had the highest number of shots (12.52 per game), crosses (16.99 per game) and touches in the penalty area (20.23 per game).
Polish striker Karol Świderski was their leading scorer last term with 11 league goals, followed by wide-man Andrija Živković who netted an impressive 10 goals. Should Bohemians concede a penalty, the Gypsies can expect Stefan Schwab to be first in line. The Austrian scored five from five last term with three down the middle of the goal.
PAOK in Europe
PAOK have plenty of European history and last season competed in the Europa League group stages, notching up a victory over PSV Eindhoven 4-1 in Greece. The year previously saw them crash out of the qualifying rounds to Shamrock Rovers recent foes Slovan Bratislava on away goals.
The Greek side are familiar to Rovers too, having defeated ‘The Hoops’ home and away in the Tallaght sides appearance in the Europa League group stages in 2011/2012. Full-back Vierinha, one of the scorers against Rovers is still with PAOK and Bohs will be hoping to keep him off the scoresheet on Tuesday.
Bohemians U19’s did take on their Greek counterparts in the 2019 UEFA Youth League with the now first team stars Dawson Devoy, Andy Lyons and Ross Tierney all featuring.
Key Player - Shinji Kagawa
A familiar name in European football, Kagawa has spent time at Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and most recently Real Zaragoza. The 32-year-old Japanese midfielder joined PAOK in January on a 18-month contract, notching up five appearances towards the end of last season.
His last full season in saw Kagawa notch up 33 appearances in Spain’s La Liga so he certainly still has plenty to offer.
Wearing the famed sporting number 23, Kagawa will bring all his European experience to the Greek side as they seek to progress in the newly formed Conference League.
Another danger-man is striker Karol Świderski who was top of PAOK’s goal (11) and assists (5) table last term. The 24-year-old played a role alongside Robert Lewandowski in Poland’s three EURO 2020 games this summer.
Manager - Răzvan Lucescu
Lucescu has recently returned to PAOK having previously managed the club between 2017-2019. During his first reign, PAOK clinched their first domestic title in over 30 years, also adding the Greek Cup to make it their first domestic double.
The 52-year-old was a goalkeeper with an impressive domestic career prior to entering management in 2004. His managerial campaign includes a two-year spell in charge of the Romanian national team from 2009 – 2011.
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