Malaga won the opening match by 2-0 and confirmed its favorite status against a team that didn’t pose any problems away from home. The Greeks are known as poor travellers but formidable opponents in Athens and not even the best European teams are overwhelming favorites when facing them here. Tonight they need to win by more than two goals without conceding, in order to move further in the group stage.
Odds: Pinnacle 2.63
Unlikely as it might seem for Panathinaikos to cause a major upset, the Greeks have overturned similar deficits in the past. They never give up and despite the lack of recent positive results, under Jesualdo Ferreira they will play with more intensity than ever. The challenge is to prevent Malaga from scoring, because such an event would force them to score four goals which is virtually impossible against a well-organized defensive.
Experience should prevail over money
Panathinaikos didn’t advance further than the group stage in any of its Champions League appearances, but Malaga never played in the aforementioned groups. The fact that they are closer than ever to reaching this milestone has a lot to do with the massive investments that were made last year. With the Arabians spending lavishly to reinforce the team’s defensive unit, results soon followed but many of the players have no experience whatsoever in the Champions League. They will have to play without Enzo Maresca who is leaving to Sampdoria but have enough depth to make up for this absence.
On the other hand, the Greeks can send their best players on the field as the domestic league has just started yet and they have no fitness issues. Ferreira welcomes back captain Kostas Katsouranis who missed the opening game, but will probably be without Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Jean-Alain Boumsong who picked up an injury in the first leg. Panathinaikos doesn’t have a great record against Spanish teams and won just 3 out of twenty four games, but this won’t have a deterring effect on their resolve.
Malaga has all the time in the world to score a goal and book its place in the group stage, so they won’t take any chances in the first half. The hosts will need to contain the Spanish side in its own half if they are to deny Juanmi and Olinga a chance to score. Ferreira has the know-how to prepare the game accordingly and motivate his players, so the impressive odds of 2.63 for a home win offered by Pinnacle make the bet worthwhile.