Preview and Prediction
The Champions League 2020/2021 is already on the clock, just after the final of the previous edition. This week the UCL qualification is on schedule with two fixtures to start. One of them is the Greek runner-up last season PAOK Thessaloniki against one of the top teams in Turkey, Besiktas Istanbul. They both will be squaring off in Greece on Tuesday to mark to long journey of the competitions among the European elites.
Both teams’ latest news
PAOK has just released a number of senior players on a free transfer this summer. They include the Portuguese Veirinha, the Slovakian international Miroslav Stoch, the Brasilian midfielder Mauricio and the Swedish international defensive midfielder Pontus Wernbloom. However, only the last one has already been signed by a new club, IFK Gothenburg. Some other ones who has been joining new clubs are Ilya Markovskyi who signed for EN Paralimniou Cyprus and Lazaros Lamprou who moved to Twente on loan. The Greek side signed three new names for their squad, Nikoloz Ninua from Dinamo Tbilisi, Stefan Schwab from Rapid Vienna and Georgikos Vrakas from Napoli.
The same case is on going at Besiktas too. Their veterans such as Erkin Caner, Burak Yilmaz and Gokhan Gonul have been released on a free transfer. Yilmaz moved to Lille while the remaining two went to their local rival, Fenerbahce. Sergen Yalcin’s side also made two signings for their replacement, Bernard Mensah from Kayserispor and Fabrice N’Sakala from Alanyaspor.
Under the Portuguese tactician, Abel Ferreira, PAOK tends to rely on the English striker Chuba Akpom and the Polish forward Karol Swiderski as the main scorer. Both were the top two leading scorer last season with eight and eleven goals each. They gain support Dmitris Limnios, the Croatian Josip Misic and the Dutchman Diego Biseswar.
Meanwhile, Sergen Yalcin often employs 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 formation. As Burak Yilmaz is no longer with them and the injury of Adam Llajic, he might count on Mehmet Nayir or Guven Yalcin as the frontman supported by Jermain Lens, the former Tottenham man Georges Nkounou and Abdoulaye Diaby.
Players to watch
PAOK’s key men in the squad are the Polish striker Karol Swiderski who contributed eleven goals and one assist last season, the top assist provider last season Josip Misic with seven assists plus five goals and Chuba Akpom with eight goals and two assists.
In Besiktas current squad, the Croatian international defender Domagoj Vida will be the main figure at the back supported by the Canadian defensive midfielder Atiba Hutchison. At the front, the Dutch winger Jermain Lens might be the one they rely on to score.
The game between Turkish and Greek teams always offers a possible daunting clash, considering their long bleak history, including this one. Both teams are in progress of revamping their squad, which cost their veteran stars. Thus, it is likely to end in a draw.
It is an even match. The home side is backed to win slightly higher at 2.20. The draw result is at the value of 3.10 whereas the Turkish side’s win market is at 3.35.