UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round, first leg

Bohemians v PAOK Thessaloniki, Aviva Stadium, 7.45pm


The match will be available to watch on the LOITV platform.


Tuesday will start with a mix of cloud and hazy sunny spells, it will be mostly dry with just a few well scattered showers about. Showers will become more frequent through the day, with some turning heavy or thundery in the southwest during the evening. Highest temperatures of 17 to 20 degrees in mostly light southerly breeze.


It's been mission accomplished up to this point for Bohemians in Europe. With the backdrop of the Aviva Stadium for the home legs, Keith Long's side have navigated their way past Iceland's Stjarnan and Luxembourg's Dudelange before the difficult task of facing a Greek Superleague team over the next fortnight.

The latter two rounds saw brilliant results obtained in Dublin with a pair of 3-0 wins and any additional benefit that can be yielded from home comforts needs to be maximised against a side of PAOK's calibre.

Georgie Kelly's excellent form will be crucial to Bohs' chances, having scored three times in the two home wins over Stjarnan and Dudelange, while Ross Tierney has also netted twice in that run of three wins and a draw in four European qualifiers.

The prize for the winners of the tie is a meeting with Scotland's Hibernian or Croatia's HNK Rijeka in the play-off round.


Like many of Europe's secondary leagues, Greece has a traditional 'big three'. PAOK weren't part of that previously, with Olympiacos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens having dominated when it comes to trophies over the decades, although the Thessaloniki side had helped themselves to the odd league and cup every now and again.

Shinji Kagawa in a friendly against Feyenoord last month

However, while PAOK used to be the 'best of the rest', in recent years they have become more than that, overtaking some of the traditional giants to become Olympiacos' closest challengers over the last five years.

They won the league in 2019 in a double-winning campaign and four of the last five Greek Cups.

Their current squad contains a host of internationals including Serbia winger Andrija Zivkovic, Morocco midfielder Omar El Kaddouri and Poland's Euro 2020 squad member Karol Swiderski who was the club's top scorer (11) and joint-top assist maker (5) in the league last season.

Former Portugal international striker Nelson Oliveira, once of Nottingham Forest, Swansea, Norwich and Reading, joined the club from rivals AEK Athens last month.

But the most recognisable name is ex-Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa who has been on the books at PAOK since signing from Real Zaragoza in January.

They are under new management - sort of - with Romanian Razvan Lucescu having returned last month as PAOK look to find renewed inspiration from the coach who led them to the aforementioned double glory in 2019.

Razvan Lucescu is back at PAOK after two years at Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia

The Bohs tie will mark the first matches of his second spell in charge before the Greek league kicks off later this month. He has coaching pedigree in his veins given that his father is the former long-time Shakhtar Donetsk boss Mircea Lucescu who is currently manager of their Ukrainian rivals Dynamo Kyiv.


Bohemians have no additional injury concerns ahead of the first leg.

PAOK confirmed squad list to face Bohs:

List A: Zivkovic, Paschalakis, Rodrigo, Biseswar, Oliveira, Crespo, El Kaddouri, Esiti, Kagawa, Konstantelias, Kurtic, Varela, Lyratzis, Taylor, Michailidis, Mihaj, Rey, Murg, Pereira, Schwab, Swiderski, Tsingaras, Vieirinha, A.Zivkovic.

List B: Aventisian, Balomenos, Gaitanidis, Giaxis, Gordeziani, Grosdis, Kaloutsikidis, Koulierakis, Koutsias, Panagiotou, Tahatos, Talichmanidis, Tsaousis, Tsopouroglou, Tzolis, Vrakas.


Keith Long (Bohemians manager): "We want to try and test ourselves against high-level opposition and (PAOK are) certainly that. It's a great challenge for the boys and it’s a test to see where we are as a group."