Daily Record


Stefan backs special Pittodrie nights and weather to help Dons get better of Greeks


STEFAN GARTENMANN’S first experience of the big European atmosphere at Pittodrie gave him the chills.

But the Aberdeen defender is hoping Greek big guns PAOK freeze when they get a blast of the brutal north east weather.

The Granite City has taken a battering this past week and the forecast is grim again for tonight’s crunch Europa Conference League group game.

It will be a far cry from the sunkissed shores of Thessaloni­ki for the Greeks but it will be no sweat for Danish star Gartenmann.

The 26-year-old has seen it all in his homeland and he’s hoping Dons fans can turn up the heat.

Gartenmann said: “Hopefully they will be freezing and we can take advantage of that.

“Any small percentage we can get, we’ll take it. I have played in some rough conditions over the years. The Danish weather is very similar to the Scottish and we don’t have a lot of mountains to take any of the wind.

“I’ve played a lot of games where it was practicall­y impossible to hit a long ball but I don’t see it being quite that bad!”

Gartenmann was unveiled as a loan signing from Midtjyllan­d the day after the Dons exited the Europa League with a play-off defeat to Hacken at Pittodrie. However, he heard all about the occasion and got a taste of it on home turf in the 1-1 draw with HJK Helsinki on matchday two in the Conference competitio­n.

He was blown away by the noise from the stands and is looking for another blast come eight o’clock.

Gartenmann added: “The fans can play a massive part.

“I felt something quite magical when we played Helsinki.

“There’s just something about Pittodrie when the stadium lights are on and it is dark out. I heard from one of the Hacken players I know a little that he was quite surprised when they played here at how Pittodrie has that ability to frighten the opponent a bit. “We tend to get a few extra percentage­s out of having the fans. There is something extraordin­ary about Pittodrie, especially on a European night.” The Dane knows that Aberdeen are up against it, facing a highflying side who have lost just once in eight league games. PAOK breezed past Hearts 6-1 in the play-offs and fancy their chances of a repeat on Scottish soil. The Greeks are not a side who tend to sit back and Gartenmann is expecting them to come out full throttle again. But he’s convinced the Dons can do damage as well. He said: “They are currently top of the group table, so obviously they are a great side. “Beating Frankfurt is not easy, beating Helsinki is not easy. We know they are a good team with a lot of quality individual­s, so we have to be sharp in our one-onones. They have very strong wingers. I have seen a lot of Taison, who played on the wing and was at Shakhtar. Vieirinha – who played for Portugal and Wolfsburg – and the striker is a handful.

“In general, they have a lot of experience – a good mixture of experience and young, talented players on the verge of breaking through. It will be very difficult but we are a good team too.

“We need to be sharp in our defensive structure, then hopefully we can use the conditions and our recent form to our advantage to get a win.”

Aberdeen are desperate to get more points on the board after receiving plenty of plaudits from their opening two clashes.

The Dons were unlucky not to get a result in Germany following an outstandin­g performanc­e in their 2-1 defeat to powerhouse­s Eintracht Frankfurt.

A point against HJK at Pittodrie last time out was no disaster but there was a sense the Finnish side were let off the hook.

Gartenmann added: “It will be quite a different game to the Helsinki one.

“In some ways their style of play is similar but I expect it will be another kind of game.

“It is going to be about us finding the balance between going into a more low-standing point in our structure and going high when that is needed. The things we can learn from the past two games in Europe is when to go and when to not. The balance between those two is crucial against PAOK.”

Gartenmann knows the Dons have no margin for error.

PAOK came out on top against Eintracht plus HJK and with those two sides facing each other tonight, Barry Robson’s side cannot risk being left behind at the halfway stage in the section.

Three points are a must and Gartenmann said: “It is very important. All these European games are crucial, especially when it is only six games to decide who goes through and who doesn’t.

“With only one point after two games, we know we have to start winning if we want to be one of the two teams who go through.

“A win would get us into a much better position than we are in right now.

“Let’s hope PAOK are going to take a little day off with their six points and that we can take advantage of that.

“We are undefeated in five games so the confidence is there. We believe we can beat PAOK.

“The preparatio­n we have had has been good. We are ready and excited.

“I haven’t played a game in nearly three weeks, so I’m buzzing to get started.”

 ?? ?? hoT aND colD PAOK beat Hearts as Dons keep warm
hoT aND colD PAOK beat Hearts as Dons keep warm
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