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Greek return for Joe

Joe Jordan can still remember the atmosphere from his first visit to Thessaloniki almost 40 years ago.

Joe Jordan can still remember the atmosphere from his first visit to Thessaloniki almost 40 years ago.

Then a feared striker with the great Leeds United team of the early 1970s, Joe faced AC Milan in the final of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup at the Kaftanzoglio Stadium, the current home of Iraklis, rivals of our Europa League opponents PAOK.

The Italians won 1-0 in front of 45,000 fans.

Looking ahead to tonight's Group A opener against PAOK, first team coach Joe returned to that May night in 1973.

"First of all, it’s an intimidating place to play," said Joe. "I played out here a long, long time ago and it’s something that sticks in my memory.

"The supporters are passionate about their football and that will be something for us to handle, especially the younger lads.

"I remember we played that final in midweek and when I got back, I was called into the Scotland squad and played my first game for Scotland against England. They were fantastic early days in my career."

Joe has studied PAOK's form in the build-up to tonight's clash at the Toumba Stadium.

"As a team, depending on whether they are home or away, they do alter it slightly," he explained.

"They are a bit more cautious away from home, play two holding midfielders and one striker.

Athanasidas normally plays up front, but was injured in their latest match at the weekend. He’s been pretty consistent in the matches I’ve seen.

"Veirinha on the left, a right-footed player, has scored some very good goals. They have a back four and the two full-backs really push on, especially the left-back, Lino. Etto is on the right.

"They give the width that is needed in a team that plays narrow with three up front with the striker Athanasidas, Veirinha and another who can vary, I’ve seen Georgiadis in there.

"They are at home tonight, however, so I think they might go with one holding midfielder and the others in the middle of the park pushing on more.

"When they lose the ball, it’s quite straight forward, they get behind the ball and organise into a compact unit in their own half. They are also a team that is quite comfortable on the counter-attack.

"At the weekend, they went a goal up at Ergotelis but had a man sent off and ended up losing 2-1.

"I watched the two matches against Valerenga (third qualfying round of the Europa League) and they then beat Karpaty of the Ukraine in the play-off, so they’ve done well and thoroughly deserve to be in the group stages.

"They beat Valerenga home and away and that form isn’t to be ignored. It is a team that we fully respect."