Friday, September 18, 2020

Prediction: PAOK vs Benfica

Harry Kettle in Free Soccer Predictions 14 Sep 2020

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Prediction: Benfica win

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: Betfair

The UEFA Champions League final may have only taken place a matter of weeks ago, but in the context of the pandemic world we’re living in, nothing is ‘normal’ anymore. As such, the new UCL campaign has already begun with teams gearing up for the third qualifying round across the continent. With just one more win required in order to reach the playoff round stage, we’ll be taking at a look at this week’s fascinating clash between PAOK of Greece and Benfica of Portugal.

PAOK

The Greek Cup semi-final back in March didn’t really go in the direction that PAOK would’ve hoped, because while they may have won the first leg 3-2 against Olympiacos, they were beaten 2-0 in the second. They made their return to action in August with a 0-0 draw against Atromitos before surprising a whole lot of people in their 3-1 win over Besiktas, and they kept that momentum going with narrow victories against Panathinaikos and Larissa.

Team News

Having the best starting XI available is clearly going to be important for this tie but even if they had that, PAOK will still need to rely on a slice of luck to get them through. As it is they do have a handful of injuries to worry about: Augusto, Rodrigo and Misic.

Benfica

The Taca de Portugal final at the start of August didn’t go how Benfica would’ve hoped as they were beaten 2-1 by rivals Porto, who actually went down to 10 men in the game. They bounced back with 4-0 and 5-1 batterings of Belenenses and Farense, and their positive run of form lifted them to three more wins in quick succession against Bournemouth, Braga and Rennes.

Team News

Grimaldo is the big concern for Benfica as he is believed to be out of action with an unknown injury heading into the trip to Greece. Aside from that, however, the visitors should have a fully fit squad to choose from as they attempt to keep their European hopes alive.

Factors to Consider

  • The third qualifying round will be played over one leg instead of two due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • PAOK have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six games.
  • Benfica have won five and lost one of their last six games.
  • PAOK have scored eight goals and conceded five in their last six games.
  • Benfica have scored 16 goals and conceded five in their last six games.

Conclusion

PAOK are more than capable of hitting the high notes in the games that really matter and we think they’ll come straight out and attack against Benfica, but in the end, it simply isn’t going to be enough. The Portuguese side just have a more complete team and while we don’t think this is going to be some kind of blowout win for them, we do think they’ll do enough to ensure that they are the ones who take on Krasnodar in the playoff round next week.

Prediction: Benfica win

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harry Kettle


Harry is a University of Worcester graduate who has been writing professionally for the last two years. He specialises in several sports such as MMA, pro wrestling and athletics, with football being his primary love. He continues to dream of a life in the Premier League as a Wolves fan.

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