PAOK vs Spartak Moscow (By: Stanioooo)
Qual. round 3 of Champions league and a match between PAOK and Spartak Moscow.
Both of the teams are in the start of their seasons and it's normal they need time to find their best form. For the hosts, their league starts after almost 3 weeks, but their main advantage is that they played 2 matches in the qualifications against serious European team like Basel and they took 2 wins and 5:1 on aggregate, which was amazing and a little bit shocking outcome. If I have to be honest, I little bit underestimated this Greek team in the previous seasons and didn't look at them too serious, but I started to change my point of view. They just play like a team, which is the most important thing if you want to have successful results. Plus the amazing home support they have at Toumba stadium- they can cause big upsets this season for me. I will not be surprised if they eliminate Spartak Moscow in this tie and even qualify for CL group stages. I think their chances for any group stages(CL or EL) are the biggest amongst the Greek clubs right now. They just look balanced in all lines(defense, midfield, attack). With attacking players like Limnios, Pelkas and El Kaddouri+ Prijovic as striker, PAOK Salonica can easily score goals. Together with their coach Razvan Lucescu, son of Mircea Lucescu, I expect attacking performance tomorrow against Spartak, because they have to take an advantage before the 2nd leg in Moscow.
Spartak played in the CL groups last season as champions of Russia without any qual. matches. They performed not so bad in a group with Liverpool, Sevilla and Maribor finishing 3rd with 6 points(1W 3D 2L), but their only win was not against Maribor, it was against Sevilla, while against Maribor they made two draws 1:1. They also suffered 7:0 defeat against Liverpool in a match where the England club could easily make double digits in their favour. In the next round in EL they were eliminated by Atletic Bilbao. That was about their last season results. In Russia Spartak finished 3rd, so they have to play in the qualifications this season and their opponent looks very dangerous. The new season in Russia started and Spartak Moscow have two matches till now- 1:0 home win against the newcomers Orenburg and 0:0 as guests against Lokomotiv Moscow. Spartak were dominating in both matches, but took only 4 points,maybe when they deserved the max amount, but their performance in the final third was not the best one and couldn't lead to more than a goal against Orenburg. The Moscow team also have good attacking power, but I am not sure if they are in good shape in the start of the season and ready for CL big match like this one. Spartak create chances, but it's still not enough. I also wonder what will happen tomorrow, when Spartak will try to defend themselves much longer than in their first two official matches in Russia. PAOK will not give them the control of the match for sure, although both teams are equal.
So, in a match like this, where teams are equal, home advantage means a lot, especially when you host in the 1st leg. PAOK impressed me against Basel, while Spartak(I watched only their match against Loko Moscow)- I think they will continue with the problems in the final third and scoring a goal will be their main problem at Toumba. They will not have so many chances for sure and the Greek defense will give their best to save the clean sheet at home. It's not easy to stop players like Promes and Ze Luis, but I think not only they are still out of perfect condition, but also PAOK will defend well when Spartak will try to create gaol chances.
I expect an open game with PAOK dominance trying to take an advantage after the 1st leg. Of course, their main job is to be with clean sheet, but they also showed away matches are not such a problem. In the recent years they beat teams like Fiorentina and Borussia Dortmund away from home, together with the stunning 0:3 win against Basel last week. I will not try to predict here if PAOK will win with clean sheet or not, under or over 2.5 goals, just will play a home win. I was really impressed by their performance against Basel and although they often make draws at home against Russian teams, I think the moment form is totally with them and finally they will secure a home win against Russian club, this time its name is Spartak.
World's leading bookmaker
PAOK vs Spartak Moscow prediction
|PAOK||Pinnacle||2.21||9||3-2 WON (+10.89 units)|