Match Previews

AEK team news: March in contention for Europa League opener

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Team news and all you need to know ahead of Thursday's game against AEK Athens.

By Charlie Hanson • 20 September 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
Solly March missed Saturday's win over Manchester United.

We begin our first season in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday when we welcome AEK Athens to the Brighton & Hove Albion Stadium, kick-off 8pm.

Tickets for the game have sold out, with the ticket exchange now open.

Team news

At his press conference on Wednesday, Roberto De Zerbi reported no new injury worries and confirmed that Solly March, who missed Saturday's win over Manchester United, will be in the line-up. "We are ready to play. For us it will be an honour to play in this competition," said De Zerbi. "But when the game starts we focus only on the quality of the play."

How to follow the game

Our Live Match Centre will bring you all the news in the build-up, during the game and post-match.

The game is live on TNT Sports.

You can also listen to live commentary on MyAlbion TV and there will be coverage across all our social media channels.

AEK player to watch

By AEK Athens
Sergio Araujo was AEK Athens' Player of the Season for the 2021/22 campaign.

Last season’s top scorer Levi Garcia has missed the last five matches through injury, so AEK will be looking to the creative force of Sergio Araujo, should Trinidad and Tobago international Garcia still be unavailable. Araujo, 31, has made 151 appearances for AEK, scoring 47 goals and has been credited with 25 assists.

He scored two goals in their Champions League qualifiers this season, but is yet to find the back of the net in AEK’s unbeaten start to the Greek League campaign.

AEK’s route to the group stage

Matías Almeyda’s team entered the UEFA Champions League qualifying stages in the third round, beating Dinamo Zagreb 4-3 over two legs to reach the play-off stage. Unfortunately for AEK they lost both legs of their tie with Royal Antwerp, seeing them drop into the Europa League.

Match facts

This is Brighton and Hove Albion’s first ever game in European competition. They are the first debutant English team in major European competition since Wigan Athletic in 2013-14, with none of the last six losing their first game (W4 D2) since a 1-0 defeat for Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95 against Trelleborgs FF in the UEFA Cup.

AEK Athens have lost their last six major European games against English opponents, conceding 16 goals and scoring just three. Their last win against an English team was in 1977 against QPR, a 3-0 win in the UEFA Cup.

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi has managed in major European competition before, taking charge of six UEFA Champions League group stage games in 2021-22 with Shakhtar Donetsk, failing to win any (D2 L4).

AEK Athens have won just one of their last 19 matches in major European competition (D7 L11), losing ten of their last 11. Their one win was away at Zorya Luhansk in the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League, a 4-1 win.

By Paul Hazlewood
James Milner has made 116 appearances in major European competition.

Brighton’s James Milner has made 116 appearances in major European competition with Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Man City and Liverpool. It’s the fifth most of any Englishman in history, behind Jamie Carragher (130), Paul Scholes (128), Frank Lampard (122) and John Terry (121). He could become the second Englishman to appear for five different clubs in such competitions, after Jonathan Woodgate (Leeds, Newcastle, Real Madrid, Spurs, Stoke), and the first player ever to play for five different English teams.

Match officials

Referee: Kristko Tohver

Assistant referees: Silver Koiv, Sten Klaasen

Fourth officials: Joonas Jaanovits

Video assistant referee: Juan Martinez Munuera

Assistant video assistant referee: Paulus van Boekel