Date: August 21, 2014
Venue: Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, Athens
Kick-off time: 7.00 pm BST
A place in the group stages of the Europa League is at stake when Greek side Panathinaikos host Denmark’s FC Midtjylland in the first leg of their playoff tie.
Panathinaikos’ form: W-L-D-W
Panathinaikos finished fourth in the Greek league last season (eternal rivals Olympiacos were champions) but qualified for the third round of Champions League qualifying by winning a round robin playoff against PAOK, Atromitos and Asteras Tripoli.
They were, however, defeated 2-1 on aggregate by Belgian side Standard Liege and dropped into the Europa League playoff round, where they now face Midtjylland.
Their most recent match was a friendly 1-0 win over Greek second division outfit Panachaiki. Their league season gets underway on Saturday at Levadiakos.
FC Midtjylland’s form: L-W-W-W
Midtjylland finished third in the Danish Superliga last season and have made a bright start this term, sitting top with four wins out of five.
Their sole defeat came in their second game against reigning champions Aalborg, but they have recorded 3-1 wins over Brondby, Randers and SonderjyskE, and more recently, a 2-1 win over FC Copenhagen.
Key Players/Team News
Swede Marcus Berg was their top scorer last season, and registered a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over PAOK in the Greek Cup final. He has scored a couple of goals in pre-season friendlies but failed to register against Standard Liege. Pana will be hoping he can fire again here.
They also boast current and former Croatian internationals Danijel Pranjic and Mladen Petric among their numbers.
Morten Rasmussen was their top scorer last season and has already registered twice this term. Nigerian forward Sylvester Igboun and Danish midfielder Pione Sisto have also chipped in with two each.
Given Midtjylland’s form so far this season, I fancy there could be an upset in this one. The Danes can be backed at a huge price of 6.5 with William Hill, which can be expected to shorten as we get closer to the game.