Hearts vs PAOKUEFA Europa League Conference, KO: 19:45 Aug 24, 2023, Tynecastle
HEARTS produced a fantastic comeback in the last round of the Europa Conference League against Rosenborg to set up a play-off against PAOK.
But they will need to raise their game to new levels when they face the Greek cracks on Thursday
The Tynecastle side appear to have shrugged off concerns about just who will be managing them this season with Steven Naismith and Frankie McAvoy seemingly sharing the duties.
They showed real grit, determination and plenty of skill to recover from being 2-1 down in Norway after the first leg and conceding an early goal in Edinburgh in the return to win 3-1 and go through.
And they brushed aside the challenge of Championship side Partick Thistle at the weekend in the Viaplay Cup in what was a potential banana skin.
However, this is a tough ask against Razvan Lucescu's side, who are packed full of talent. They gave an early warning by winning 4-1 in Israel to see off Beitar Jerusalem after only drawing the first leg.
And they then dismantled Hadjuk Split at home after again drawing 0-0 in the first leg.
They have a solid spine of Portuguese players throughout their team and the Thessaloniki side reached the quarter-finals of this competition two years ago.
How the bookies view it
Like all four Scottish sides this week, Hearts are outsiders to win and to qualify.
Recent head to head
The clubs have never met before.
Players to watch
Lawrence Shankland has continued where he left off last season and dinked in a fantastic opener against Rosenborg. He is 7/4 to score anytime with bet365.
Serbian playmaker Andrija Zivkovic has scored a double in both of his last matches against Hajduk Split and Asteras Tripoli. He is 5/1 to score anytime with Paddy Power and is dangerous playing just off the striker.
Anything else catch the eye?
This is a very difficult tie for Hearts, although they will be cheered to the rafters by a sold-out crowd at Gorgie. And given the quality they face, they may have to settle for a draw.
That's a scoreline that PAOK have settled for in both of their first legs in Europe this season and it would be far from a disaster for them with the second leg to come in a raucous stadium.
This UEFA Europa League Conference match between Hearts and PAOK will be played on Aug 24, 2023 and kick off at 19:45. Check below for our tipsters best Hearts vs PAOK prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.