Benfica will be looking to extend their perfect home record against PAOK as the sides meet in Lisbon with a UEFA Champions League group stage place on the line.
• The Portuguese side have won both previous ties against their Greek opponents, and will be eager to return to the group stage having lost all six games in finishing bottom of their 2017/18 section. For their part, PAOK are looking to reach the group stage for the first time, all four of their previous UEFA Champions League campaigns having ended in the qualifying rounds.
• Both the clubs’ ties to date have come in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League, Benfica winning the first of them 4-1 on penalties after a 3-3 aggregate draw – each side having won 2-1 away – in the 1999/2000 second round.
• The teams met again in the 2013/14 round of 32, Benfica winning the first leg 1-0 in Greece and scoring three times in the final 20 minutes back in Lisbon to wrap up a 4-0 aggregate success.
• Luisão and Eduardo Salvio appeared for Benfica in both legs of the latter tie, with Jardel and Ljubomir Fejsa featuring in the first game; Panagiotis Glykos and Stelios Kitsiou played in both games for PAOK.
• Portuguese Liga runners-up in 2017/18, Benfica are looking to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 14th time – and the ninth season in a row.
• Benfica reached this season’s play-offs with a 2-1 aggregate win against Fenerbahçe in the third qualifying round (1-0 home, 1-1 away). The first leg ended a run of seven successive European defeats – the Eagles failing to score in the last five of those – although Benfica have won only two of their last 12 continental fixtures (D2 L8).
• This is only Benfica’s second UEFA Champions League play-off; they won the first, against Twente in 2011/12 (2-2 away, 3-1 home).
• The 1999 second-leg defeat by PAOK is Benfica’s only loss at home to Greek visitors; they have won five of their seven fixtures in Lisbon.
• Greek Super League runners-up for the second time in three years in 2017/18, PAOK’s most recent UEFA Champions League campaign lasted only one tie – a 3-2 aggregate defeat by Ajax in the 2016/17 third qualifying round.
• Last season, PAOK beat Olimpik Donetsk in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (3-1 aggregate) but were knocked out in the play-offs on away goals by Östersund of Sweden (3-1 home, 0-2 away).
• PAOK have ousted Basel 5-1 on aggregate (2-1 home, 3-0 away) and Spartak Moskva 3-2 on aggregate (3-2 home, 0-0 away) to reach this stage.
• The defeat at Östersund is PAOK’s only reverse in their last six European away fixtures (W2 D3); the Greek side have lost only two of 11 away games in continental competition (W5 D4).
• PAOK’s only previous UEFA Champions League play-off was a 4-3 aggregate reverse against Schalke in 2013/14 (1-1 away, 2-3 home). Their UEFA Europa League play-off record is W5 L3.
• The Salonika club have lost on two of their three trips to Portugal, the exception that ultimately futile second-leg win at Benfica in 1999.
Links and trivia
• Benfica midfielder Andreas Samaris has 32 caps for Greece.
• PAOK defender Fernando Varela was born in Portugal, but is a Cape Verde international.
• Have played in Greece:
Odisseas Vlachodimos (Panathinaikos 2016–18)
Ljubomir Fejsa (Olympiacos 2011–13)
Andreas Samaris (Panachaiki 2006–10, Panionios 2010–13, Olympiacos 2013/14)
• Vlachodimos and Giannis Mystakidis were Panathinaikos team-mates in 2017/18.
• Have played in Portugal:
Fernando Varela (Rio Maior 2006/07 loan, Estoril Praia 2007–09, Trofense 2009–11, Feirense 2011/12)
Vieirinha (Porto 2003–05 2006/07, Marco 2005/06 loan, Leixões 2007/08 loan)
Dimitris Pelkas (Vitória FC, 2014/15 loan)
• International team-mates:
André Almeida, Pizzi, Rafa Silva Vieirinha (Portugal)
Andreas Samaris Panagiotis Glykos, Stelios Kitsiou, Dimitris Pelkas (Greece)
Andrija Živković Aleksandar Prijović (Serbia)