PAOK VS Schalke 04 Prediction
Schalke 04 heads to a journey from Gelsenkirchen to Thessaloniki where Greek PAOK will seek revenge for the lost battle few years ago. “Stadio Toumba” in Greece’s second-largest city is set to host a game from any of UEFA’s competition knockout rounds for the first time after season 2013–14, when PAOK lost to Benfica. That happened in the UEFA Europa League 1/16 finals and three years later PAOK is once again one of the Round of 32 members, but this time will host to a German opposition.
H2H Stats – PAOK vs Schalke 04: PAOK has an open wound left out from its current opposition as both sides previously met in the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League playoffs. Basically that happened 42 months ago (end of August 2013) when Schalke 04 qualified to the Champions League groups at PAOK’s expense. However, PAOK were lucky enough to reach the playoff round as they lost to Metalist Kharkiv in third qualifying round, but Ukrainians have been disqualified.
First playoff leg between PAOK and Schalke 04 was at the “Veltins Arena” in Gelsenkirchen, which ended without a winner and both clubs left the final outcome for the second round in Greece. PAOK was keen to join the Champions League group stage for the first time and only a week later, 27 August 2013, Huub Stevens lost the duel from his successor in Schalke 04 – Jens Keller. Indeed, back then Huub Stevens was appointed for PAOK’s manager and that happened some months after he was sacked by FC Schalke 04 in December 2012.
Adam Szalai scored first goal for Schalke in closing minutes of the first-half, but minutes after opening second-half whistle Stefanos Athanasiadis equalized. PAOK couldn’t use the moment when Jermaine Jones from Schalke was sent-off for a second yellow card, but contrary to expectations Julian Draxler scored to make the result 1-2. In that moment PAOK find themselves in a do or die situation and they had to score two goals, without conceding, in order to proceed. Kostas Katsouranis made the result 2-2, but Schalke 04 survived and they even won the game thanks to a late second goal by Hungarian forward Adam Szalai – 2-3.
Europa League: PAOK vs Schalke 04 – 16.02.2017
This time PAOK will host in the first round and Greek club hopes to answer in a proper way. Team led by Vladimir Ivic was in a really complicated situation when PAOK lost twice by Qarabag in Group J of the 2016-17 UEFA Europa League. Both defeats tipped the scales in Qarabag’s favour but fact that PAOK won in three other games, without losing in all four, was vital for eventual Round of 32 position. In that number we find two wins over Slovan Liberec and four points out of two games vs Italian Fiorentina.
Meanwhile PAOK occupies third position in domestic Superleague and guess who’s on top of the standings… surprisingly – Olympiacos. That’s something so typical and we are already used to that positioning. Difference between PAOK, who are third, and Olympiacos is 15 points after 20 league rounds. Apparently PAOK will have to be pleased with one of the top 5 positions and try winning the second UEFA Champions League spot through GSL playoffs.
Initially “The Royal Blues” from Gelsenkirchen used their UEFA Europa League position as a way to end their awful form in beginning of the season. Later on, as it seems, Schalke 04 can grab the UEFA Europa League as an opportunity to save the season since Markus Weinzierl’s men are 11th in the Bundesliga table.
When we speak about Schalke 04’s continental performance, situation looks brighter. Schalke finished on Group I’s peak where German side won its first five games before losing to RB Salzburg in a meaningless last round fixture. Winning 15 points out of 18 possible is a good record, when The Royal Blues were alongside FC Krasnodar, Nice and RB Salzburg.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
German side travels on south after hitting a double last week. First of all Schalke 04 reached the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals with a 1-4 win in Sandhausen. Few days later The Royal Blues achieved their third success in 2017, winning 2-0 vs Hertha BSC on Saturday night. Unquestionably two inspirational results and they were preceded by even more inspiring score, although not a win – a draw (1-1) vs Bayern in Munich.
Schalke’s coach Markus Weinzierl can be pleased Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting returns in the squad. Cameroonian attacker passed a late fitness test due to an adductor problem, but he made the journey to Thessaloniki. At the same time Nabil Bentaleb was not on board as he stayed in Germany as a result of stomach bug. Algerian midfielder joins the absentees where we also find names of Abdul Rahman Baba, Coke, Donis Avdijaj, Breel Embolo and Franco di Santo.
Nonetheless, Markus Weinzierl can rely to a competitive group of 22 men and he can rotate the squad. Changes can be made in every line and after all Schalke 04’s boss can still feature a strong starting XI.
PAOK takes on Schalke in good form as “The Black and Whites” are unbeaten in 9 games. Moreover, PAOK were with 8 successive wins before a goalless draw vs Xanthi last weekend. Game was second between Xanthi and PAOK in space of just four days and after winning the first one (1-2) part of the Greek Cup quarter-finals, PAOK failed to score in the league game. Anyway, as we mentioned distance from the top is big enough and we doubt someone in Thessaloniki keeps illusions his favourites can dethrone Olympiakos, exactly in the ongoing campaign.
Last defeat of PAOK dates in first days of 2017 when club from Thessaloniki lost its first home match – 0-1 vs PAS Giannina. Besides following eight wins in a row, PAOK were also in a winning streak before that defeat, when Vladimir Ivic’s men won five consecutive matches in period December-January.
The 39-year-old Serb and former player of the Greek club will have to pick PAOK’s starting squad without central midfielder José Alberto Cañas. Injured Spaniard is one of the absentees, as well as the forward Aleksandar Prijovic. He arrived from Legia Warsaw in January and won’t be eligible to play in the UEFA Europa League. At least we don’t find him in officially submitted by PAOK squad list.
Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
PAOK must pursue a positive score at home turf, otherwise their mission becomes almost impossible. Well, maybe it’s a bit utter if we express it it like that, but PAOK won’t feel better in Germany, especially if they lose at home. Greeks can also take out some positives if the game ends with a draw, but generally Schalke are favourites. Not only for winning the first leg, but to move on. At least bookmakers think so according to their odds.
We would like to place a bet on the Europa League 1/16 final facing PAOK against Schalke 04, but our betting prediction recommends the BTS market. We expect goals by both sides and this automatically goes for “Both teams to score – Yes“.
Venue: “Stadio Toumba”, Thessaloniki.
Referee: Javier Estrada from Spain.
Possible Lineups of PAOK and Schalke 04
PAOK Thessaloniki: Panagiotis Glykos – Marin Leovac, Jose Crespo, Fernando Varela, Leo Matos – Gojko Cimirot, Diego Biseswar, Evgen Shakhov – Djalma, Giannis Mystakidis, Stefanos Athanasiadis. (4-3-3)
FC Schalke 04: Ralf Fährmann – Holger Badstuber, Matija Nastasic, Benedikt Höwedes – Johannes Geis – Sead Kolasinac, Benjamin Stambouli, Leon Goretzka, Alessandro Schöpf – Yevhen Konoplyanka, Guido Burgstaller. (3-5-2)