Chelsea vs PAOK
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Date: 29 November 2018
Kick-off: 21:00 CET
Chelsea just lost their first game since August(!). Back then, they lost 2-0 to Manchester City in the Community Shield. They had stayed undefeated since then, winning the vast majority of their games, but Tottenham proved too good for them last weekend, beating them 3-1. They have already qualified for the last-32 of the Europa League, so Maurizio Sarri has the chance to rotate his team, rest some players, give game time to guys who don’t usually start. They are expected to have Arrizabalaga, Emerson, Christensen, Cahill, Zappacosta, Barkley, Fábregas, Loftus-Cheet, Pedro, Giroud and Willian in their starting lineup. No reason to risk Eden Hazard, who is carrying a minor injury.
One awesome and three pathetic performances, one win and three defeats, have PAOK third in the group table, on three points. They were too passive at home against Chelsea on their group debut (0-1), but it was against MOL Vidi that they really shot their own foot, twice(!!), losing both at home and away. Interestingly, they are not knocked-out yet; even if they lose in London, which obviously feels way more probable than any other result, if BATE have beaten MOL Vidi a couple of hours earlier, then all will be decided in two weeks. PAOK will be hosting BATE, and Vidi will be hosting Chelsea. A triple tie is possible, with PAOK, BATE and Vidi all finishing on six points. In that case, most probably (depends on the BATE vs Vidi result), a simple 1-0 win over BATE would be enough for PAOK to finish second, as long as Chelsea don’t drop points in Hungary. An interesting detail is that PAOK have a… glorious past visiting big London teams. Back in the 90s, they drew 1-1 with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, and eliminated them, having beaten them 1-0 in Thessaloniki in the first leg. The Gunners went on to win the championship in England that season. Much more recently, PAOK beat Tottenham in London, in the Europa League group stage. In Greece’s championship, the Thessaloniki side have been absolutely dominant thus far, dropping just two points in 11(!) matches.
Previous five matches:
Tottenham vs Chelsea 3-1
Chelsea vs Everton 0-0
BATE vs Chelsea 0-1
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace 3-1
Chelsea vs Derby County 3-2
PAOK vs Xanthi 2-0
Ergotelis vs PAOK 1-2
PAOK vs Panetolikos 2-1
MOL Vidi vs PAOK 1-0
Atromitos vs PAOK 1-1
Chelsea’s next game is on Sunday, again at home, versus Fulham (England Premier League). PAOK are visiting Lamia on Monday (Greece Super League).
Chelsea vs PAOK: Head to head Stats
Chelsea have never hosted PAOK before.
Chelsea vs PAOK: Prediction
No doubt Chelsea are huge favorites to win the game. What complicates things, is that this match starts after the end of BATE vs Vidi. If Vidi have earned a point in Belarus, PAOK will be obliged to win the game in London, as not even a draw would be enough for them. If BATE have beaten Vidi, especially by either one or two goals, not more than that, then a triple tie at the end of the group stage will be much more probable (with PAOK losing the game in London), and the Greek side could play more… free football, not being “obliged” to leave Stamford Bridge with a point or points. Obviously, the game will be decided mostly by Chelsea’s… mood, and not PAOK’s… needs.
Chelsea vs PAOK: Betting Tips
“Over 2.5 goals and both teams to score” is my only tip, at 2.30. I can’t imagine PAOK play as passively as they did back home, in September, when they hosted Chelsea. They have the players to score against any team (no matter if they failed twice against Vidi, underestimating their opponents in both games).