Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Panionios
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Date: 27 July 2017
Kick-off: 18:45 CET
Finishing second in last season’s championship in Israel, Maccabi Tel Aviv were obliged to start their European fight in the first qualifying round, late June. Four wins in as many games, total score 10-1, Maccabi couldn’t have done much better against Tirana and Iceland’s KR. Interestingly, of all those ten goals they scored in the two previous qualifying rounds, only one came in a first half, with the other nine being scored in the second part of all matches. Maccabi paid Granada one million euros for 23-year-old right winger Omer Atzili, and the young Israeli has started delivering, scoring twice against KR in the previous qualifying round. One of Maccabi’s best signings this summer so far has been 25-year-old central midfielder Cristian Battocchio, who joined the team on a free transfer from Stade Brest. He made his debut in their last game, and is expected to be a key player the coming season.
Panionios were the pleasant surprise in Greece’s championship last season, making lots of new friends. Against Gorica in the previous qualifying round they earned two victories, 2-0 at home and 3-2 in Slovenia, with that 3-2 coming much easier than what it looks. For reasons that have nothing to do with football, in this game, the team will be without newly-signed Ehsan Haji Safi and one of their most influential players, Masoud Shojaei. Both are Iranians, and, I repeat, for reasons that have nothing to do with football, they skipped the trip to Israel. Reports in Israeli media claim that both the players and the Greek club could get punished, apparently UEFA and FIFA don’t allow players to miss games for purely political reasons, but it has happened before (with Iranian players not appearing in games held in Israel, and what is common practice in cases like this is the clubs to declare their players injured.
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Panionios: Head-to-head Stats
Maccabi have faced four Greek teams in the past, but not Panionios.
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Panionios: Prediction
Panionios were very-very good in the previous qualifying round, but Maccabi were not any less good in their two previous rounds, plus, they are playing at home, and with a full squad, unlike Panionios. I expect the hosts to win.
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Panionios: Tips
Maccabi’s win pays 1.53. For much more than that, I’d go with ‘Maccabi and over 2.5 goals’, at 2.62. I wouldn’t be surprised if Panionios scored, but I still expect the hosts to win.