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Borussia Dortmund vs. PAOK: Team News, Predicted Lineups, Live Stream, TV Info

Published by Bleacher Report on Wed, 09 Dec 2015

Borussia Dortmund host PAOK on Matchday 6 of the UEFA Europa League group stage on Thursday.The Black and Yellows have already clinched a spot in the Round of 32 but have little hope of winning Group C after their 1-0 loss at Krasnodar. The group leaders travel to Azerbaijani side Qabala, who have only picked up two points from goalless draws with PAOK so far.Dortmund will only win the group if they gain more points than Krasnodar, because the Russian side won the head-to-head between the two teams.Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel will have to find a balance for the meeting with the Greek club: On the one hand, his side need to make sure they keep the three points at home in case Krasnodar slip up unexpectedly, while, on the other, this is the last opportunity to give key players a rest before the final three games of the year.PAOK, meanwhile, have nothing to play for and might look toward the weekend, where they'll face Levadiakos, a potential rival for one of the spots that will grant qualification for Europe at the end of the Greek season.The first meeting in Greece on October 1 ended with a 1-1 draw, as Dortmund played with a lot of second stringers: No fewer than five regular starters were left at home to rest.Date:Thursday, December 10Time:6p.m.GMT/1 p.m. ET/7 p.m. local timeVenue:Signal IdunaPark, DortmundTV Info:FS2 (U.S. only)Live Stream:BT Sport live streaming (UK only)/Fox Soccer 2Go(U.S. only)Form GuideDortmundPAOKSchalke: Win (3-2)Panetolikos: Draw (0-0)Hamburg: Loss (3-1)Qabala: Draw (0-0)Krasnodar: Loss (1-0)Kallonis: Win (3-1)Stuttgart: Win (4-1)Chania: Win (6-2)Wolfsburg: Win (2-1)Panionios: Win (2-1)Predicted LineupsDortmundPossible starting XI: Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Bender, Hummels, Park; Castro, Weigl, Kagawa; Mkhitaryan, Ramos, Januzaj.Roman Weidenfeller is Tuchel's first-choice goalkeeper in the Europa League, and he will replace Roman Burki.Mats Hummels, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Julian Weigl returned to team training after a stomach bug kept them out of the Bundesliga game at Wolfsburg. Since Tuchel already rested Hummels and Weigl against Stuttgart, chances are they'll return to the starting XI.Ilkay Gundogan missed team training on Wednesday because of a knock to his lower back from the Wolfsburg game and will be rested against PAOK, according to Stephan Schauble of Sky Sport News Germany (link in German).It's expected Tuchel will rest some of his key performers, with Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the two players most likely to sit on the bench or not feature in the squad at all, which could open up opportunities for Manchester United loanee Adnan Januzaj, Jonas Hofmann and Adrian Ramos.PAOKPossible starting XI:Glykos; Miguel Vitor, Malezas, Tzavellas; Rodrigues, Golasa, Tziolis, Pelkas, Leovac; Mak, Athanasiadis.Head coach Igor Tudor will likely rotate his squad since they have nothing to play for, so any attempt at predicting their lineup is rather futile.The XI above started PAOK's last game against Panionios.Tudor, a former Juventus player, will likely go into the game with a defensive approach, much like he did in the first encounter between the two sides, where PAOK played with five at the back for much of the game.Regular starters and former Bundesliga players Ricardo Costa and Dimitar Berbatov won't feature because of injury.Players to WatchThis game should present a good opportunity to get a look at some back-ups for Dortmund. Januzaj and Ramos haven't had a lot of playing time in recent weeks and need a strong performanceif they are selected.The most interesting position, however, could be central defence. We argued Sven Bender should keep his spot in the starting lineup after impressing in recent games, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Tuchel go with his regular pairing of Hummels and Sokratis.PAOK, meanwhile, have scored only twice in the five games of the group stage so far, with former Nurnberg player Robert Mak providing both goals. The 24-year-old is his side's leading goalscorer with 12 across all competitions. If he isn't rested, Dortmund know they need to keep the Slovakian in check. As Bleacher Report's Clark Whitney wrote after the first meeting of the two clubs: "Dortmund were pressing for the opener and had been for quite some time. Mak sprung the offside trap, controlled the ball well and rifled his shot into the roof of the net."Key BattlePAOK's Back Line vs. Dortmund's AttackAs previously stated, the expectation is that Tudor will select a defensive XI, with five or even six at the back at most times of the game. This approach worked well in the first meeting.Whitney called PAOK's three centre-backs winners of the game: "Again and again, Dortmund probed the hosts' defense. Their crosses were headed clear, their shots were blocked, their through-passes intercepted. It was a magnificent defensive performance by PAOK that ultimately led to the hosts holding on for a point."Dortmund will need to do better this time around, even with experienced centre-half Costa out injured for the visitors. The Black and Yellows have proved they have the required patience and structure in their build-up play to crack even the most defensive opponents with their first-choice XI, but their back-ups have yet to show they can do the same.Considering Dortmund's midfield mastermind Gundogan will not feature, the hosts might find it tough to carve PAOK up from deeper positions, thus perhaps putting more importance on one-on-ones in the final third. If they can't win those, Dortmund might again struggle to break down PAOK.Odds(viaOddschecker)Dortmund:1-5Draw:15-2PAOK:19-1LarsPollmannis a featured columnist writing onBorussiaDortmund.He also writes forYellowwallpod.com. You can follow him onTwitter.
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