Tomorrow we will witness a clash between PAOK and Beşiktaş in the 2nd Qualifying Round of UEFA Champions League. I am expecting a fierce fight due to the high-tension rivalry between Greece and Turkey. Although the game will be played between the closed doors, PAOK will have the advantage of playing at their own stadium. Let’s try to guess who will come out on top.
PAOK ended the 19/20 season in the 2nd place only behind the invincible Olympiacos. They were actually an invincible team too in the first leg of the season. Between August 2019 and January 2020, they did not lose a single game (12 wins and 4 draws). Then they got 3 disappointing losses until the league got into a forced break and when the league resumed, they were never the same. They are still unbeaten in their last five matches in the domestic league but they only won once and drew in the other four games. Long story short, they are going through a difficult period at the moment but this doesn’t mean that they are not a noteworthy opponent.
On the other side, we have Beşiktaş who finished Super League in the 3rd place and got a ticket to Champions League Qualifiers due to the second-placed Trabzonspor’s ban from Europe. Although they had quite an inconsistent campaign, they came in clutch and got four consecutive wins in the closing rounds to secure the 3rd place. However, lots of changes have happened since then. First of all, they have been playing without a high-caliber goalkeeper since Loris Karius left the team in COVID-19 break. Then the team lost their wing-backs (Gökhan Gönül and Caner Erkin) to their arch-rivals Fenerbahçe in this transfer window. Most importantly, the team’s only qualified striker Burak Yılmaz was signed by Lille recently. Last but not least, Elneny’s loan contract ended and he returned to Arsenal. Although they signed some players to fill the gap (Mensah and N’Sakala), it would be wrong to claim that any of these two players fill the shoes of the outgoing players.
All in all, both teams are not in perfect shape. PAOK have played two club-friendlies against mediocre teams since the league ended whereas Beşiktaş have not played a single official match in one month. For all the reasons aforementioned, I believe that PAOK have the advantage over their weakened opponent. Beşiktaş will be on the pitch without a solid goalkeeper, centre-forward, and midfielder. My pick is PAOK to win. If you are looking for the highest odds for this game, register for the best betting software. Good luck!