AEK Athens vs Brighton & Hove Albion recommended bets
AEK Athens vs Brighton & Hove Albion match preview
Just 70 days ago, Brighton & Hove Albion made their highly-anticipated debut in UEFA competition, although AEK Athens rather spoilt the party in Sussex that night didn’t they?
The Greek champions led on three separate occasions at the Amex, eventually leaving 3-2 winners, courtesy of Ezequiel Ponce’s late scuffed finish.
Since then however, the tables have turned, with AEK failing to win any of their three matches, while Brighton have not tasted another defeat.
First, the Seagulls got off the mark at Stade Vélodrome, coming from 2-0 down to earn a draw with Olympique de Marseille, courtesy of João Pedro’s late spot-kick.
Then, Roberto De Zerbi’s team have enjoyed back-to-back 2-0 wins over Ajax, with Ansu Fati and Simon Adingra on target at Johan Cruijff Arena three weeks ago.
So now, victory in the Greek capital would book Brighton’s place in the knockout phase, ideally hoping to leapfrog OM, who they welcome to the South Coast next month, into first place.
AEK Athens meantime, as mentioned, have not won since their visit to Sussex, held to a 1-1 draw by Ajax at home, before suffering successive defeats against Marseille, most-recently beaten 2-0 in Nea Filadelfeia.
The Yellow-Blacks last two appearances in a UEFA group stage have seen them finish rock bottom, last featuring in the knockout phase in 2016/17, with this the only time they’ve ever come higher than third.
Matías Almeyda’s team are currently third once again, which would see them drop into the Europa Conference League, although they could be evicted from that spot by Ajax in Amsterdam on the final matchday.
Domestically, AEK won only their second Greek Super League title in three decades last season, the other coming in 2018.
Right now, following Sunday’s 1-0 win at PAS Giannina, they are third, level with Olympiacos and just one point below fierce rivals Panathinaikos
The Seagulls meantime ended a six-match winless streak in the Premier League on Saturday; João Pedro’s brace helping them down Nottingham Forest 3-2 at the City Ground, following some rearguard defending.
Ahead of this one, AEK have lost their last three home matches against Premier League opposition, beaten by Nottingham Forest in 1978, Everton in 2009 and Leicester two seasons ago.
AEK’s only home victories over English sides both came in the UEFA Cup in 1976/77, beating Derby County and Queens Park Rangers, before being dumped out by eventual winners Juventus in the semi-finals.
It certainly won’t be easy, but we’re backing Brighton to leave Agia Sophia Stadium with all three points.
AEK Athens team news
This AEK team does feature some familiar faces including Domagoj Vida, who represented Croatia in a World Cup Final, and Djibril Sidibé, who was part of the Monaco team that got to the Champions League semis.
Steven Zuber is their top-scorer, taking his tally to five for the campaign at the weekend, while Ezequiel Ponce could return in attack, after he was the match-winner at the Amex.
Sidibé, Lazaros Rota, Nordin Amrabat and Mijat Gaćinović would all miss the trip to Johan Cruijff Arena if booked.
Brighton & Hove Albion team news
Jan Paul van Hecke is banned, having picked up three yellow cards, while Igor, Pervis Estupiñán, Tariq Lamptey, James Milner, Julio Enciso, Solly March, Danny Welbeck and Kaoru Mitoma are all unavailable due to injury.
Mahmoud Dahoud is in the midst of a domestic ban, so will surely return in midfield, while Lewis Dunk is about to start a two-game Premier League suspension, following his bizarre red card on Saturday.
Bart Verbruggen and Jason Steele have a timeshare situation going on in goal, starting eight and ten matches respectively, so it’s impossible to predict who will be donning the gloves.
João Pedro has scored four times in the Europa League, including twice in the reverse fixture, so will he add to this tally.