Who are PAOK? A guide to Chelsea’s Europa League opponents

20 September at 16:15
Chelsea travel to Greece this evening to play against PAOK FC, in Thessaloniki, located in the north of the Mediterranean country. The club have won their first three games of the 18/19 Superleague Greece so far, sitting in fourth and conceding just one goal.
 
In the 17/18 Superleague season, PAOK finished in second place, six points behind champions AEK Athens. The club made a handful of strong additions over the summer, including the notable signing of CSKA Moscow’s Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom. Centre-forward Aleksandar Prijovic is a prolific attacker yet may not play due to a leg injury. Midfielders Dimitrios Pelkas and Maurício are also worth keeping an eye on. Club captain and former Wolfsburg left-back Vieirinha provides an ever constant threat from the full-back position.
 
PAOK usually line-up with either a 4-2-1-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, using Pelkas as an advanced playmaker in both formations to create attacking opportunities. Both formations give the team’s full-backs opportunity to push forward down the flanks, due to the narrowness of the line-up, whilst the two defensive midfielders in both formations serve to drop back and cover for the defensive duties of the full-backs.
 
PAOK were initially in the qualification stages for the Champions League and did well to get as far as they did. They defeated Basel 5-1 on aggregate, Spartak Moscow 3-2 on aggregate and eventually were defeated by Portuguese giants Benfica 5-2 on aggregate.
 
PAOK have averaged 4.5 yellow cards per game over their last two European home games, as they attempt to use an aggressive style to keep stronger teams on the back foot. Expect the team to try and press Chelsea hard, breaking up the Sarri-ball tactic; if they wish to achieve a result.
 
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