PAOK is set to defend their flawless record in the Europa Conference League when they take on Aberdeen on Thursday, aiming to secure their spot in the knockout stages.
Aberdeen, on the other hand, is struggling in Group B with only one point from three games, and their hopes of advancing in the competition hang in the balance.
In their previous encounter, PAOK pulled off a dramatic 3-2 win against Aberdeen in Scotland.
Despite trailing 2-0 within the hour mark, Aberdeen squandered their lead, allowing PAOK to level the score late in the game and claim a last-gasp victory with a penalty converted by Stefan Schwab.
PAOK comes into the reverse fixture with high spirits after a 4-2 win against Olympiacos in the Greek Super League, positioning them just one point behind the second-placed team.
They have a history in this competition, reaching the quarter-finals two seasons ago. Manager Razvan Lucescu, in his second term with the club, aims to go even further this time.
In contrast, Aberdeen is competing in the group stage of a European competition for the first time since the 2007-08 season when they exited the UEFA Cup in the third round.
Despite putting up a fight in their losses to PAOK and the 2022 Europa League winners, Eintracht Frankfurt, Aberdeen has only managed one point on the board, particularly due to their costly 1-1 draw at home against HJK Helsinki.
However, they still have hope and boosted their confidence by defeating Hibernian 1-0, earning a spot in the League Cup final against Rangers next month.
Aberdeen, known for their famous UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup win under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 1983, has not secured a trophy in a decade, making an upset against Glasgow giants a thrilling prospect.
Nonetheless, they must defy the odds to claim victory in Thessaloniki. Without a miraculous turn of events in their favor against Frankfurt, Aberdeen faces elimination from Europe with two matches to go.
PAOK might continue without key players like Marcos Antonio, Ally Samatta, and club captain Vierinha due to fitness concerns.
Ivan Nasberg, Joan Sastre, Filipe Soares, and Andre Ricardo are also unavailable as they were not registered for this competition.
Some rested players from the reverse match, like Baba Rahman and Kiri Despodov, may return to the lineup.
Aberdeen, on the other hand, faces the absence of James McGarry and Shayden Morris due to hamstring injuries.
Jack McKenzie is available despite being sent off against Hibernian in their League Cup semi-final meeting at the weekend. Graham Shinnie aims to start at the base of the visitors’ midfield.
PAOK Possible Starting Lineup:
- Kedziora, Troost-Ekong, Koulierakis, Rafa;
- Tsiggaras, Schwab;
- Zivkovic, Konstantelias, Taison;
Aberdeen Possible Starting Lineup:
- Devlin, Gartenmann, Rubezic, Jensen, McKenzie;
- Polvara, Shinnie, Barron, McGrath;
Prediction: PAOK 2-1 Aberdeen
Aberdeen’s defeats in this competition have been closely contested, and this trend is likely to continue in Greece.
PAOK, with a perfect record in their opening three matches and home advantage, is expected to secure three points.