Kick-off: 1755, 20/09/2018
Stadium: Stadio Toumba
TV: BT Sport
Chelsea are ante-post favourites for Europa League glory but may be content to kick off with a draw from a tricky first test at PAOK Salonika.
The hosts were runners-up in the Greek Super League last season and are going along nicely this term, so this will certainly be no walk-over.
With Blues boss Maurizio Sarri set to shuffle his pack, 12/5 for both teams to share the spoils in this Group L opener is our initial PAOK Salonika vs Chelsea prediction.
A Look At PAOK Salonika’s Betting Odds
PAOK finished 10 points clear of third-placed Olympiakos on the domestic front last term and they have started out with three straight wins in that division this time around.
In Europe, Razvan Lucescu’s side claimed a couple of decent scalps in Champions League qualifiers when beating Basel 5-1 on aggregate before edging out Spartak Moscow thanks to a 3-2 triumph at this venue.
A place in the group stage of that tournament looked on the cards following a 1-1 draw at Benfica, only for the Portuguese outfit to prevail 4-1 in the turn fixture.
We’re hoping that disappointing reversal was just a blip, because the rest of PAOK’s form is rock solid.
Serbia striker Aleksandar Prijovic was the golden boot winner in Greece last season and spearheads a useful attacking unit.
A Look At Chelsea’s Betting Odds
Chelsea go into this game in great spirits after Saturday’s 4-1 defeat of Cardiff made it five straight victories in the Premier League.
The Blues also have a strong pedigree in Europe, winning the Champions League in 2012 and lifting this trophy a year later.
Last term, they finished joint-top of their Champions League pool alongside Roma, with Atletico Madrid back in third, before finding Barcelona too hot in the last 16.
However, Sarri is expected to approach this clash with one eye on Sunday’s domestic trip to West Ham and that could bring them down to PAOK’s level.
Eden Hazard has been rested, alongside defender David Luiz and midfielder Mateo Kovacic, while full-back Emerson Palmieri is also absent.
Danny Drinkwater is not in the Europa League squad, but England internationals Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Gary Cahill could come in.
For correct score purposes, this may be an open encounter, so 14/1 for 2-2 completes our PAOK Salonika vs Chelsea betting tips.
OFI Crete 1-3 PAOK Salonika – Diego Biseswar, Leo Matos, Leo Jaba
CHELSEA 4-1 Cardiff – Eden Hazard (3), Willian
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