WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Scott Parker of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur at Molineux on September 10, 2011 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
I'll keep this short because, honestly, I don't know that much about PAOK, Tottenham Hotspur's opponent in Thursdays Europa League Group Stage match. I can barely keep up with football in the 5 big leagues, let alone all across Europe. These sorts of things are really Kevin's forte, but I'd be willing to be even he hasn't seen PAOK play a game this year.
As a result of this lack of knowledge I will use the five things to impart a little wisdom to all of you.
1) PAOK are no strangers to continental competition. They began last season in the Champions League qualifiers, but lost on away goals to Ajax. PAOK then moved to the group stages of the Europa League where they finished runner-up in their group to Villareal. PAOK then lost in the round of 32 to CSKA Moscow.
2) PAOK have never played Spurs. They beat Arsenal in the UEFA Cup in 1997-98 1-0 in Salonika and then drew 1-1 at Highbury. Also Spurs have only played a Greek club twice. Losing 1-0 to Olympiacos in 1972-73 in Greece before winning the return match 4-0.
3) PAOK goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias played under Spurs' manager Harry Redknapp while the two were at Portsmouth. Chalkias made 9 appearances for Pompey or 8 more than Gomes will likely make this season.
4) PAOK have, in the past, employed a 4-2-3-1 formation (or so I've been told), but I'm not sure that's what we'll see. Also, there are surprisingly few Greek players in the first XI. Their two midfielders are tough tacklers and one, former Real Madrid player Pablo Garcia, has a reputation for being quite dirty. Might we see another touchline bust-up with Joe Jordan? I hope so.
5) One of their strikers, Athanasios Papzoglou (why are all Greek names so complicated?), is a big boy. At 6'5", or 1.95 m for our British readers, he could pose a problem for Tottenham's central defenders. Fortunately he doesn't seem to be terribly potent in front of goal, but his knockdowns could lead to scoring opportunities for other PAOK players like attacking midfielder Vladimir Ivic.
Finally, a bonus thing that I know. PAOK don't score many goals, only 32 in 30 league games last season, but they also don't allow many, 29 in 30 games. I don't like Spurs' chances in a defensive battle, but I don't see PAOK having the attacking ability to break down our defense, even if Sebastien Bassong plays.