Schalke vs PAOK by Isaiah
Schalke is coming from a very disappointing 4:0 defeat away to Wolfsburg last weekend, but will have to quickly forgot that game and focus on play-off round of Champions League match against PAOK this evening. Their start of the season is far away from the best possible, but the minimum target for European competitions remains entering the group stage of Champions League.
As said, they are coming from a disappointing 4:0 defeat away to Wolfsburg, as the team completely fall apart once they conceded the first goal in 55th minute. That their defense has a lot of problems, Schalke showed in the first round game at home against Hamburger when they drew 3:3. Seven goals conceded in first two rounds are surely something to be worried about, but the team remains optimistic that they can pull out a victory and positive result, knowing that they must use advantage of the home ground. They are awaiting PAOK in a pretty shaken atmosphere, while the team will be without their star striker Huntelaar, while the Germans will also be without long term injured winger Obasi, central defender Papadopoulos, but also without defensive midfielder Hoger that played the previous match.
PAOK, on the other hand, is coming into this game from a morale boosting 3:0 victory over Skoda Xanthi at home in the first round of new Greek championship. Victory itself was a fairly earned one, with ease as the hosts entered the game much stronger and took the lead already after fifteen minutes with a goal from Vitor.
Later on, guests stood with a man less as Baxevanidis was excluded in 66th minute, fact that only made the job easier for the hosts who scored two more (by Perez and Athanasiadis) till the end of the match. Their morale is also soaring after UEFA's decision against Metalist, team that have won over them in the previous round and the team now goes into these two games a bit more relaxed. Their biggest weapon will be coach Hub Stephens who was a technician of the German team for almost eight years. Left back Spyropoulos and midfielder Vukic and Garcia are left outside the mission this time.
Schalke is still a favorite in this one, but the German side has too many problems in the defensive lineup and will surely be very vulnerable during this game too. PAOK knows that they can't defend for the whole match and will surely try to hurt the hosts at least via counter attacks.