Tuesday, September 13, 2011

PAOK Salonika v Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Thursday, 15th September, 2011
Europa League (Group Stage Match 1)

Tottenham commence their Europa League Group Stage campaign with a trip to Greece to play PAOK Salonika.  The two clubs are meeting for the first time although Spurs have played in Greece previously in European competition.

PAOK Salonika are a multi-sports club formed in 1926 and have never been relegated from the top division of Greek football.  They play in black and white and have been Champions twice, runners-up three times and Greek Cup winners on four occasions.  They have been runners-up in th eCup ona record twelve occasions.  They have played their games at the 28,700 seater Toumba Stadium since 1959.

This season in the Greek League they have played two games.  They won their opening match against FC Xanthi by a single goal but lost the next match at Ergotelis 1 - 2.

Tottenham are facing opponents who have built up experience in recent years.  Last season they qualified for the Champions League but lost in the qualifying round to Ajax on the away goals rule.  In the Europa League they defeated Ferenbahce to reach the Group stages were the played Villareal, Club Brugge and Dinamo Zagreb.  Finishing second behind Villareal, they were drawn against CSKA Moscow in the first round of the knock-out stages.  Having lost the home leg to a single goal, they were eliminated following a credible 1-1 draw in Moscow. 

They finished fourth in the Greek League last season and qualified for the Europa League after coming second in the play-off round.

Europa League 2011-12 Qualifying Round
Drawn against Karpaty LVIV of Ukraine they won the first leg in Greece by two goals, scoring once in each half through striker Stefanos Athansiadis and defender Lino, a Brazilian signed from Porto in 2009.  The return game ended 1-1 - after PAOK went behind just before half-time they equalised early in the second half with a goal from another defender, Balafas.

Tottenham v Greek Opponents 
Spurs  played Olympiakos in the UEFA Cup 2nd Round in 1972-73, winning the home game 4 - 0 with goals from Jimmy Pearce (2), Martin Chivers and Martin Peters.  They lost the second leg by a single goal and went on to reach the semi-finals of the competition that year where they lost to Liverpool on the away goals rule.
In the summer of 1968 Tottenham visited Greece to play three games in an end of season tour.  They drew the first game against Panathinakos 2 - 2 when Alan Gilzean scored both goals.  The other two games produced more convincing results, winning 5 - 0 against Anorthosis and 7 - 1 against AEL.  Jimmy Robertson scored a hat-trick and Jimmy Greaves twice in the win over Anorthosis while the goals against AOL came from Cliff Jones (2), Dennis Bond, Robertson and Gilzean (3).

The last time Spurs face opposition in Greece was in a pre-season friendly in August, 2002.  They lost 1 - 2 to AEK Athens and Gus Poyet scored for Spurs.


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