Greek champions Olympiacos get their quest for a spot in the Champions League group stage underway on Wednesday night, as they welcome Azeri outsiders Neftchi Baku to the Karaiskakis Stadium.

Neftchi Baku have named 36 Lion product Yusuf Lawal in their starting XI.

In 2012, Neftchi became the first Azeri team to advance to the group stage of any UEFA competition – picking up three points in six Europa League matches by drawing with Partizan Belgrade and memorably holding Inter Milan at San Siro – the Baku-based outfit have rarely come close since.

Earlier this month, they doubled a 2-1 advantage from the first leg of their first round qualifying tie with Dinamo Tbilisi at their Bakcell Arena headquarters by repeating the dose in Georgia to win 4-2 on aggregate.

The Azerbaijan Premier League winners – who claimed their first top-flight title win since 2013 last season – had previously posted a friendly victory over Russian giants Spartak Moscow, so are in fine form before heading to the capital of ancient culture this week.

Head coach Samir Abbasov has seen his side claim eight wins from their last 11 games in all, with both Namik Alaskarov and captain Emin Mahmudov – once of Spartak and Boavista – notching in each leg of their opening-round success. Abbasov will hope the pair can continue that streak, then, as Neftchi seek to upset the odds by taking a positive result back to Baku.

Obagoal as Yusuf is known starts at the right hand side of attack tonight.


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