Grp A: Rubin Kazan vs PAOK Preview

PAOK Salonika coach Laszlo Boloni has called on his players to maintain their upward trend when they visit Russian outfit Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday.

Football News: Rubin Kazan

Romanian Boloni took charge of the Greek outfit over the summer and has presided over a strong start their domestic Superleague campaign.

Their 3-0 win over AEK Athens last weekend put the Thessaloniki outfit top of the standings after four games, and has their fans harbouring hopes that this could be the year they claim the Greek title for the first time since 1985.

Their Europa League campaign got off to a less auspicious start, however, with a goalless draw against a significantly weakened Tottenham side. The result leaves PAOK two points behind Rubin heading into Thursday's match, the Russians having seen off surprise group qualifiers Shamrock Rovers 3-0 last time out.

But Boloni insists his players can take heart from their performance against AEK, and translate that into three points on Thursday.

"I'm happy because I achieved my first victory against a big-name opponent in Greece," said Boloni.

"I'm happy for the result, for the game and our fans, who created a fantastic atmosphere in the stands.

"But I expect to play better. Someone smarter than me once told me that in football there are only two directions: forward and backward.

"When you stop progressing, you go to the other extreme."

For Rubin, Thursday night's match represents the first true test of their Group A campaign after cantering to a routine win over minnows Shamrock in Ireland.

PAOK arrive defending a four-match unbeaten away run in Europe, but will fancy their chances of taking something from their trip to a side who have made home stalemates something of a speciality in Europe.

Under the guidance of coach Kurban Berdyev - who led the club to the Russian title in 2008 and 2009 - Rubin have lost only one of their last 13 European home games in Europe, but with eight draws and only four wins in that same sequence, the Centralni Stadium need hardly be viewed as a fortress by the travelling Greek fans.



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