The UEFA Europa League is back,and Fiorentina heads to Thessaloniki on Thursday for a rematch with PAOK. La Viola previously played the Greek side in the same competition in 2014, where they won 0-1 on a goal by Juan Manuel Vargas. Both sides are under different management now, although once again Fiorentina should be favorites against a competent defense.
For coach Paolo Sousa, this is a return to a country he has experience in as a player, as the former midfielder played for Panathinaikos in the 00/01 season before retiring in 2002. He has the team practicing with a 3-4-2-1 formation. It appears Federico Bernardeschi will get the start on the right wing, while the Mauro Zarate, Josip Ilicic, and Khouma Babacar trident will be used up front; in defense we may see Sebastian De Maio in place of one of the regular starters. Matias Vecino is healthy enough to make the squad list but trained separately and is unlikely to start.
First year coach Vladimir Ivic, a former creative mdifielder who played most of his career in Greece and Serbia before becoming a PAOK youth coach, will likely have to make due without Stefanos Athanasiadis, the club captain and Greek international. The team's top scorer last year, Athanasiadis injured his toe and may be unavailable.
In goal the expected starter is former Udinese keeper Zeljko Brkic, while their defense includes Greek international Georgios Tzavellas and Spaniard Jose Angel Crespo who briefly played in Italy for Bologna and Hellas Verona.
PAOK: (4-3-3) Brkic; Leo Matos, Crespo, Tzavellas, Leovac; Charisis, Shakhov, Cimirot; Djalma, Koulouris, Rodrigues
FIORENTINA: (3-4-2-1) Tatarusanu; Tomovic, De Maio, Astori; Bernardeschi, Sanchez, Badelj, Milic; Zarate, Ilicic; Babacar
How to Watch
TV: In the United States this match will not be on television but will be provided through legal streaming services (see below); in Canada you will be able to catch it on TSN5. Check here for more options.
Online: In the United States both WatchESPN and Fox Soccer 2Go will be offering this match, for more options check here.
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, we'll have a match thread live here for discussion of the game at hand. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter, and you can also head over to our Facebook page.