Having picked up just one point from first two group games, Panathinaikos face a must-win tie, but beating one of the top Italian sides that are on a four-match run could prove to be a mission impossible for the Greeks.
Panathinaikos were never a force to be reckoned with in European football, but they did cause quite a few problems even to the top sides in Athens in the past. However, the team have been on the major downtrend over the last few years, with economic crisis in the entire country clearly affecting the famous club as well. It is for that reason that the squad keep getting weaker season after season, with PAO now struggling on all fronts. Following the departure of key players Cleyton, Karagounis, Ninis, Katsouranis and Kante, Jesualdo Ferreira’s side not only failed to qualify for Champions League group stages, but could take just one point from Europa League games against Maribor and Tottenham. Seeing that the players are completely out of confidence after winning just one of last nine matches, PAO cannot be trusted to get anything from this game.
Lazio are slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with in both Italy and Europe, despite the fact that apart from Miroslav Klose and maybe Hernanes, the squad don’t have true stars in the team. However, Eduardo Reja had put together a very balanced and homogenous squad, with new boss Vladimir Petkovic doing really well to continue the work of his predecessor. As a result, have climbed to third place in Italian Serie A after winning 6 of first 8 games, while picking up four points from Europa League clashes with Tottenham and Maribor. With strong line-ups in those games proving Lazio are finally taking Europa League seriously, we can be quite confident that the Biancocelesti will give their best to win in Athens, and I certainly wouldn’t bet against them fulfilling their goal.