Panathinaikos vs Bilbao by Isaiah
Panathinaikos did well in previous round of Europa League to progress over Gabala, team from Azerbijan that is far from naive and already having decent experience of playing in European competitions. It was a tricky opponent early in the season, but the Greeks have showed to be better side with far better skilled individuals.
First leg in Athens ended as a narrow 1:0 victory for the Greek side, as they dominated the whole game but just scored from a penalty kick in 37th via Molins, not looking very fluid with the ball to their feet and ball movement could have been better. However, it was easier for them to score once Azeriis had to attack, with Panathinaikos showing to be simply better and more experienced side, reaching the play-off round with a 1:2 victory away (goals were scored by Lod and Cabezas). Team has suffered 0:2 defeat against Smyrnis in the most recent friendly game.
In comparison to previous season, hosts won't be counting at defender Coulibaly (19/0), Johansson (newcomer), midfielders Staikos (2/0) and Villafanez (30/2).
Bilbao, on the other side, played their previous Europa League round against Romanian giants Dinamo Bucuresti and were huge favorites, so it didn't bother them much that the first leg in Romania ended as a 1:1 draw, in a game where they surely looked somehow better and if any of them was to win, that would surely be the visiting side.
However, all class difference was much more obvious in the second leg two weeks ago, when Bilbao celebrated 3:0 victory without having to show their full potential. They entered the game strongly, scored twice via Garcia in first thiry minutes and from then on, played a bit more passive and just enough to reach safe ending of the match - but scored once again, via Aduriz in 86th minute. They had two friendlies since then, losing to Liverpool 3:1 and taking a 2:2 draw against Alaves on Saturday evening still showing that the desired form isn't reached yet.
Guests can't count at defender Saborit (9/0), Yeray (26/0) and midfielder Iturraspe (24/0) in comparison to previous season. Midfielder Rico is doubtful.
- Panathinaikos has won last three official home matches with 1:0 result.
Both teams have played two official matches so far in the season, and I wouldn't dare to say that any of them are in better competitive form. There's no doubt that Bilbao is a better side and that the Spaniards won't defend and will surely try to do something more and get a victory in the first leg already. Greeks know that they can't just stay behind the ball and defend - having that in mind, I see plenty of value with over goals in this one having surely two teams which aren't in best shape defensively.