Struggling Panathinaikos desperately need a win in order to remain in contention for the top two places in Group J having picked up just one point from their first two games. Lazio, on the other hand, lead the way with four points and they now aim to further improve their position with a win in Athens.
One win in nine matches
Panathinaikos were struggling to fulfill their potential even when the club chiefs were fully dedicated to the team, so it is no wonder the team remain on the downtrend now that the owners seem to have lost interest in the side. How else can we explain the fact that no proper replacements were signed for the likes of Karagounis, Cleyton, Ninis, Kante and Bjarsmyr, all of whom have left the club in the summer. With captain Kostas Katsouranis pushed out of the exit door after the season had already started, Panathinaikos really find themselves in a difficult position. The team are obviously far from the desired form as witnessed by the run of just one victory in last nine competitive games, but the reality is they also lack the quality to match sides like Tottenham and Lazio. Following the 3-0 defeat to Maribor, PAO somehow managed to hold Spurs to a 1-1 draw at home, but having been lucky to do so, the Greek giants cannot be expected to fare any better against Lazio.
Vitolo and Quincy are expected to miss out after picking up injuries against Aris, while Loukas Vyntra, Konstantinos Triandafillopulos and Pape Sow are all doubtful.
Four victories on the bounce
Lazio were just one of the number of Italian sides that did not take Europa League seriously in the past, but club’s stance towards this European competition has changed a great deal with the arrival of coach Vladimir Petkovic. While the Serie A campaign remains a priority, the Biancocelesti are also eager to do well in Europe and that is why the Bosnian tactician fielded very strong sides in matches against Tottenham and Maribor. After taking four points from the first two games, Lazio now want to beat PAO in Athens and virtually ensure their place in the next stage. That shouldn’t prove to be too big a problem given that the Biancocelesti appear to be on top of their game at the moment and are brimming with confidence after winning their last four matches in all competitions.
Federico Marchetti, Modibo Diakite, Ederson, Matuzalem, Senad Lulic and Tommaso Rochi have not made the squad.
Stadio Spyros Louis was once a very difficult ground to play at, but that was when Panathinaikos were much stronger than they are at the moment. Taking into account that high-flying Lazio arrive to Athens with almost full-strength squad, betting on the Biancocelesti look the right thing to do.
Our prediction: Lazio Draw no bet
Odds: 1.70 (7/10)
Bookmaker: William Hill