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Chelsea v PAOK facts

Chelsea have won all four Group K games to qualify already and take on a PAOK side who are in need of a victory themselves.

Chelsea's Davide Zappacosta (right) holds off Amr Warda of PAOK
Chelsea's Davide Zappacosta (right) holds off Amr Warda of PAOK ©Getty Images

Through to the round of 32 already with maximum points, 2013 UEFA Europa League winners Chelsea will look to continue that perfect record as they take on PAOK, the Greek side arriving at Stamford Bridge with just three points to their name and in urgent need of a positive result to give themselves a realistic chance of accompanying their hosts into the knockout phase.

• One-nil victors in their opening two games, the second of them at home to Vidi, Chelsea sealed their qualification with back-to-back wins against BATE Borisov, the home fixture ending 3-1 in their favour thanks to a Ruben Loftus-Cheek hat-trick before Olivier Giroud grabbed the only goal in Belarus. The Blues will clinch first place if they avoid defeat against PAOK, or if Vidi fail to win at BATE.

• PAOK's only win, and only goals, of the section came on matchday two when they prevailed 4-1 at BATE. They then lost home (0-2) and away (0-1) to Vidi to compromise their chances of further progress. The Greek club will, however, remain in contention unless they lose to Chelsea and Vidi avoid defeat in Belarus, or if they draw and Vidi win

Highlights: PAOK 0-1 Chelsea
Highlights: PAOK 0-1 Chelsea

Previous meetings
• Chelsea defeated PAOK 1-0 in Salonika on matchday one with an early Willian strike. It was the clubs' first meeting in UEFA competition.

• The London club are undefeated in five games against Greek opposition and have won both matches at home, most recently overcoming Olympiacos 3-0 in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League round of 16 (and on aggregate by the same score) en route to that season's final.

• PAOK's matchday one reverse was their first defeat in five encounters against English clubs. Their two previous visits to England, both in the capital, brought a 1-1 draw at Arsenal and, seven years ago this week in the UEFA Europa League group stage, a 2-1 win at Tottenham.

Form guide
• Chelsea could finish only fifth in defence of their Premier League title last season, but booked a first ever place in the UEFA Europa League group stage twice over by winning the FA Cup for the eighth time, defeating Manchester United 1-0 in the final.

• Although the west London side are new to this stage of the UEFA Europa League, they won the competition on their only previous participation, in 2013, having crossed over to the knockout phase in mid-season from the UEFA Champions League. Their route to the final in Amsterdam, where they defeated Benfica 2-1, incorporated three straight 3-1 wins at Stamford Bridge.

Watch Chelsea reach the round of 32
Watch Chelsea reach the round of 32

• Chelsea ended a run of three successive European home draws with their 1-0 win against Vidi on matchday two. They have not lost a European group game at Stamford Bridge since Basel defeated them 2-1 there in September 2013; the 13 such fixtures since have yielded ten wins and three draws.

• PAOK enjoyed a successful 2017/18 on the domestic front, atoning for a rare early exit in Europe – they lost to Swedish debutants Östersund in the UEFA Europa League play-offs – by retaining the Greek Cup and finishing runners-up to AEK Athens in the Superleague. They harboured high hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time this season when they knocked out Basel and Spartak Moskva in qualifying ties and then held Benfica 1-1 in Lisbon in the first leg of their play-off – only to suffer a second-leg 1-4 defeat in Salonika.

• That means PAOK have extended their record of having participated in every season of the UEFA Europa League to a tenth successive year. They have reached the group stage in six previous campaigns, four of which have extended into the knockout phase but never beyond the round of 32. Schalke were the most recent team to end their interest at that juncture with a 4-1 aggregate win in 2016/17.

• The Salonika side have an overall UEFA Europa League group stage record on the road of W9 D6 L5. The loss in Hungary last time out was their first in five European away fixtures this term (W2 D2).

See PAOK lose on matchday four
See PAOK lose on matchday four

Links and trivia 
• PAOK trio Chuba Akpom, José Ángel Crespo and José Alberto Cañas have all played in the English Premier League.

• Akpom played alongside Giroud at Arsenal in 2014/15 while PAOK's Omar El Kaddouri was a team-mate of Jorginho at Napoli from the summer of 2015 to December 2016.

• Carrying on from their triumph in 2013, Chelsea are on a run of seven consecutive UEFA Europa League wins. That is the joint third longest sequence in the history of the competition, group stage to final, and another victory will put them second equal alongside Salzburg. However, they will have to win every match through to the semi-finals this season if they are to equal Atlético Madrid's record 15-match run.

• Chelsea are one of four clubs boasting 12 points out of 12 from their opening four UEFA Europa League fixtures, the others being Salzburg (Group B), Dinamo Zagreb (D) and Eintracht Frankfurt (H).

• Chelsea share the best defensive record in this season's competition with Slavia Praha (Group C), having conceded just one goal. No team has ever gone through a UEFA Europa League group with six successive clean sheets; the record of one goal conceded is held jointly by Standard Liège (2011/12) and Salzburg (2017/18).

• This is PAOK's 41st match in the UEFA Europa League group stage; only two clubs, Salzburg and FCSB, have played more.

The coaches
• Named as the new Chelsea boss in succession to his fellow Italian, Antonio Conte, in July 2018, Maurizio Sarri is widely considered to be one of Europe's most progressive coaches. He paid his dues in Italy's lower leagues with a multitude of clubs before getting his big break at Empoli, whom he steered into Serie A, before replacing Rafael Benítez at Napoli in 2015. Three seasons in Naples all brought top-three finishes, his entertaining side running Juventus close for the Scudetto in 2017/18.

• The son of Mircea Lucescu, Bucharest-born Răzvan spent most of his career as a goalkeeper with clubs from the Romanian capital. As a coach, he enjoyed early success with Rapid Bucureşti, winning back-to-back domestic cups and also steering the club into the UEFA Cup quarter-finals. He then had two years in charge of the Romanian national team, but it was in Greece that he further enhanced his reputation, firstly with Xanthi, then as a Greek Cup winner and league runner-up in his debut season at PAOK.