Marseille will travel to Greece on Thursday to take on PAOK in the second leg of their Europa Conference League quarter-final tie.
Following a 2-1 home win in the first leg, Les Olympiens arrive with a slender lead and in a seven-game winning run across all competitions.
After finishing second in their Europa Conference League group, PAOK had to fight for their place in the round of 16 in a playoff, and they eventually triumphed over Midtjylland after a penalty shootout.
Having gone on to beat Belgian outfit Gent over two legs, courtesy of a 1-0 home win and a 2-1 away triumph, Razvan Lucescu’s side were given a daunting tie against French giants Marseille in the quarter-finals.
In an unenviable away trip, the White-Blacks sat two goals behind at the break, but Omar El Kaddouri quickly halved the deficit in the second half to ensure they head into the home leg with a fighting chance.
While they do come in as clear underdogs, the Greek outfit will take confidence from their run in the competition so far and will aim to upset the odds and overturn the deficit to progress to the final four.
PAOK’s Jose Angel Crespo celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 17, 2022© Reuters
They welcome a Marseille side who will have their sights set on lifting the Europa Conference League trophy, having dropped into the knockout stage after failing to qualify in the Europa League.
Les Olympiens firstly thrashed Qarabag 6-1 over two legs, before seeing off Basel in the round of 16 with a pair of 2-1 wins, booking a semi-final tie with PAOK as a result.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side headed into the first leg last week in fine form, having won their last five matches across all competitions, and they made a strong start, leading 2-0 at the interval thanks to a Gerson finish and a long-range stunner from Dimitri Payet.
While they will have been disappointed to concede after the break and only come away with a one-goal lead, the French outfit continued building momentum at the weekend, defeating Montpellier 2-0 to stretch their winning run to seven outings and strengthen their position in second spot in Ligue 1.
They will now turn their attention back to Europe’s third competition with the aim of booking a semi-final place to add to their impressive campaign.