PAOK vs Chelsea Preview | Latest Team News | Expected Line-Ups | Predicted Score
Here is our match preview ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with PAOK including team news, expected line-ups and predicted score
Chelsea will be looking to kick off their Europa League campaign with a positive result when they take on PAOK in Greece this evening.
The Blues are back in Europe’s second tier competition after finishing fifth in the Premier League last season and they will be hoping to repeat their success of 2012/13 that saw them go all the way to win the Europa League under Rafa Benitez.
Chelsea are the bookmakers favourites to win the trophy again this season and they will be confident of progressing to the knockout stages after being pitted in Group L along with BATE, Vidi and tonight’s opposition, PAOK.
Maurizio Sarri has enjoyed the perfect start to life in England having won all five of his Premier League games so far and they sit top of the table on goal difference following a 4-1 comeback win over Cardiff City at the weekend.
Chelsea will be without Eden Hazard as the Belgian international has been left in west London to rest after complaining of feeling tired after scoring a hat-trick during the win over Cardiff.
David Luiz and Emerson Palmieri have also not travelled to Greece while Mateo Kovacic hasn’t been risked after picking up a knock at the weekend. Danny Drinkwater is ineligible having been left out of Chelsea’s Europa League squad.
Sarri has vowed not to make wholesale changes to his starting eleven but we should still see five or six players come in with the likes of Willy Caballero, Andreas Christensen, Davide Zappacosta, Ross Barkley, Willian and Alvaro Morata pushing for recalls.
Former Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom could feature for PAOK after joining the club in the summer while Aleksandar Prijovic could make his return after recovering from a hamstring injury.
PAOK: Paschalakis; Matos, Crespo, Varela, Freitas; Silveira Junior, Canas; Lima, El Kaddouri, Biseswar; Prijovic
PAOK 1-2 Chelsea: This will be the first ever competitive meeting between the two clubs but Chelsea are the red-hot favourites to take home the three points. The PAOK fans will make it an intense atmosphere and the game will be a lot closer than many predict if Sarri rotates his team too much. However, the visitors will still be able to field a side packed with quality and I think Chelsea will still have enough to win this game.
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