PAOK vs Olimpik Donetsk – Thursday 19:00 BT/20:00 CET – Toumba Stadium, Thessaloniki.
After the first leg at the Lobanosvskiy Stadium in Kyiv in Ukraine, Olimpik Donetsk are still in the running to reach the playoff stage of the UEFA Europa League. Olimpik Donetsk even took the lead in the 49th minute through a fantastic free kick by Stanislav Bilenkyi, but later had to concede the tying goal by Pedro Henrique.
This is a significant achievement for the club. But at the same time, it is unlikely that they will advance further than the third round of qualifying. PAOK’s transfer value of €49.8 million dwarves Olimpik’s transfer value of €6.95 million and while money is not everything Olimpik’s inexperience will be hard to compensate against a strong PAOK side playing at home at the Toumba Stadium.
The Toumba Stadium in Greece is known for its wild atmosphere and will be a significant step up for an inexperienced Olimpik Donetsk side that usually plays in front of just a couple thousand spectators in Kyiv. But there is also a slight advantage in playing the second leg in Greece.
Olimpik simply have to hold the 0-0 draw as long as possible, because the Toumba Stadium will likely grow inpatient should PAOK struggle to score. Hence, a disciplined performance by the Ukrainians will be critical on Thursday if they do want to have a minimal chance to advance to the next round of Europa League qualifying.
PAOK vs Olimpik Donetsk – Player to look out for:
Robert Mak #29 – PAOK
Robert Mak is back with PAOK after one season in Russia. The 26-year-old Slovakian winger spent one season with Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia but failed to make a lasting impression and when Zenit parted with head coach Mircea Lucescu Mak became one of the first players considered surplus material by new head coach Roberto Mancini. As a result, Mak was happy to take the offer from PAOK and return to PAOK on loan. Now back in Greece Mak hopes to resurrect a career that has somewhat stalled in Russia.
Moha #11 – Olimpik Donetsk
Moha stands somewhat out in a team that can be best defined through the collective. The 23-year-old Moroccan-Spanish native is the only real foreigner in Olimpik Donetsk’s squad—goalkeeper Zauri Makharadze holds both Ukrainian and Georgian citizenship. Signed from the Spanish second division club Gimnàstic de Tarragona in January Moha managed just one goal and one assist in 13 Ukrainian Premier League games. But this season he has already shown that he is slowly adapting to football in Ukraine recording two assists in the first two games of the Ukrainian Premier League.
PAOK vs Olimpik Donetsk – Match Stats
- Olimpik Donetsk finished fourth in the Ukrainian Premier League this season, which was the best result in the club’s history.
- Olimpik have never before played in any UEFA competition.
- As a result, this is the first competitive encounter between PAOK and Olimpik.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Olimpik Donetsk vs PAOK 0-0
PAOK vs Olimpik Donetsk – Possible Lineups
Rey – Leovac, Crespo, Varela, Leo Matos – Shakhov, Cañas, Cimirot – Mak, Prijović, Djalma
Manager: Aleksandar Stanojevic
Makharadze – Nemchaninov, Kravchenko, Shabanov, Lukyanchuk, – Bogdanov, Tsymbalyuk – Moha, Khomutov, Shestakov – Bilenky
Manager: Roman Sanzhar
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.