Brighton lineup vs AEK Athens – Brighton and Hove Albion have continued where they left off last season, making a blistering start to 2023/24. On Thursday night, they will play their first ever European game, with AEK Athens the opposition, in front of what will surely be a rapturous crowd at The AMEX.
Simply put, disappointment is not an option for a side that began this century at a humble athletics stadium – the Withdean Stadium – which was once voted the fourth-worst ground in the UK. How times change…
Current Brighton stats – More goalscoring galore in store!
Brighton are currently the top scorers across Europe's five biggest domestic leagues, with a whopping 15 goals in just five Premier League matches – one better than champions Manchester City! They kept up their three-goal-a-game pace on Saturday afternoon by further embarrassing a Manchester United side already hit by off-field issues at Old Trafford in a 3-1 win.
Though some of this goalscoring is down to outstanding finishing from the likes of Evan Ferguson, Brighton are still third for their expected goals per game in the Premier League, ahead of the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool.
Brighton are, however, occasionally leaky at the back. They notably rank 14th for expected goals against in the Premier League, and their defeat at home to West Ham last month showed that a well disciplined deep block can frustrate them and leave gaps on the break.
Brighton lineup vs AEK Athens – Our top three
18 year old Irish striker Evan Ferguson has proven why he’s considered one of the hottest prospects in the world already this season, with a stunning hat-trick against Newcastle, and has scored four goals in total in just 211 minutes of action. With the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United reportedly very interested, this match is a big chance for him to demonstrate to potential suitors that he is of a true European pedigree.
After making his first England appearance in five years last week in a win over Scotland, Dunk continued his good form keeping Rasmus Højlund quiet on Saturday afternoon. On a personal level, Brighton will need their captain to keep this impressive run up against Argentine striker Ezequiel Ponce, who has returned to AEK after a few years away. In his previous time at the club, he scored 16 goals in 24 games.
Mitoma is everything he was last season, and then some. More than ever, his mesmerisingly effective dribbling is making him a nightmare for right backs up and down the Premier League. Over the past year, Mitoma has averaged 3.37 carries into the penalty area, placing him in the 99th percentile of wide men in Europe if isolating this metric.
The 25-year-old tricky Japan star has the end product to match though, with a goal and three assists so far in the Premier League, and he will be eager to carry this rich form into the Europa League.
Brighton lineup vs AEK Athens – The final word
This match is a culmination of over a decade of patient work from club owner Tony Bloom and his team, and Brighton will be eager to put on a show to announce themselves on the European stage. In a strong Europa League group containing bona fide giants Marseille and Ajax, who are Champions League regulars, this is also a valuable opportunity to grab vital points to secure passage to the knockout rounds.
Greek champions AEK could still present a potential banana skin, as they have far more experience on this stage than the Seagulls, but are out of form at present, sitting five points adrift of leaders Olympiacos in their own domestic league already.
Brighton will need to be wary of players like Ponce, as well as speedy Trinidadian forward Levi Garcia on the break. But with the form they are in, a roaring crowd behind them, and the motivation of making a big first impression in Europe, they will feel confident of continuing an impressive start to 2023/24 with more free-flowing football.