Brighton face one of the biggest nights in the club’s history as they welcome Greek champions AEK Athens in the first match of their maiden Europa League campaign.

Roberto De Zerbi’s side will hope to have beginner’s luck on their side as AEK visit the Amex Stadium, but with vast amounts of continental experience now in the Seagulls’ squad, it will not be a totally new adventure.

As for AEK, the match marks a return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since the 2020-21 season and will be a key indicator of how they will fare in a tough group also containing Ajax and Marseille.

  • Team News

Brighton

Having seen some key players return to fitness in the 3-1 win over Manchester United last weekend, the Seagulls have a largely clean bill of health heading into this landmark meeting.

In his pre-match press conference, manager De Zerbi was asked about the fitness of Ansu Fati and Evan Ferguson, both of whom came on as substitutes at Old Trafford.

“I haven’t decided yet and I will decide tomorrow, but they are in good condition,” said De Zerbi.

“They can start, like João Pedro or [Danny] Welbeck. I am lucky because I have a lot of solutions,” he added.

Solly March was another topic of discussion and De Zerbi confirmed that the winger would play in the match, although did not confirm he would start.

Pervis Estupiñán, Carlos Baleba and Facundo Buonanotte are also thought to be in contention after not being involved last weekend.

Brighton’s only absentees for the meeting are Jakub Moder, who remains unavailable following his long lay-off after a serious knee injury, and Julio Enciso, who is still expected to be out until the Christmas period with a torn meniscus.

AEK Athens

The travelling party for AEK’s return to European competition has been shorn of two key defenders, with Domagoj Vida and Harold Moukoudi both missing.

Veteran Croatia centre-back Vida suffered a rib injury in the Greek champions’ 1-1 draw with Olympiacos at the weekend, while Moukoudi has been reported to be ill.

That has left Matías Almeyda’s side with only five available defenders for the trip, with 23-year-old Gerasimos Mitoglou the only recognised centre-back.

Attacking players Levi Garcia and Mijat Gaćinović, who both missed the Olympiacos match, are both in the squad and are expected to play a full part, however.

  • Likely Lineups

Brighton

Steele; Veltman, Dunk, Van Hecke, Estupiñán; Gross, Dahoud; March, Pedro, Mitoma; Welbeck

AEK Athens

Stanković; Rota, Sidibé, Mitoglou, Hajsafi; Eliasson, Szymański, Jønsson, Zuber; Araujo, Ponce

  • Key Players

Brighton - Kaoru Mitoma

While Brighton’s flying Japanese winger may have been found out by some Premier League defences of late, he remains an electrifying attacking threat who will be key to the Seagulls’ season.

Mitoma’s degree-level dribbling and turn of pace should be perfectly suited to the European stage, where the pace of play will be high and free-kick decisions may come easier, especially against three opponents prone to red cards – AEK, Ajax and Marseille have each seen 13 in their European history.

Mitoma is the only piece of De Zerbi’s attacking puzzle that has remained unchanged in the first few weeks of the season as well, a fact which is not expected to change anytime soon.

Aided by the likes of Welbeck, Estupiñán, Mahmoud Dahoud and Adam Lallana who have played at this level before too, Mitoma should thrive in this campaign.

AEK Athens – Sergio Araujo

Born in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s, Araujo is a forward in the ideal Argentine mould; sub-six foot, tricky, and technically faultless.

The 31-year-old, who is now AEK’s captain, had a unique route to Athens after a career featuring six loan spells – including three to his current employers.

16 goals across 38 appearances in his first two spells brought clamour for more, and while Araujo initially returned to parent club Las Palmas, he couldn’t resist coming back and finally made his move permanent in the summer of 2021.

This season, he has mostly been used as a substitute but was the architect of an emotional added-time recovery against Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League qualification, scoring AEK’s first goal in the 92nd minute and winning the penalty from which Vida’s 98th-minute equaliser followed.

After his first start of the season against Olympiacos, Araujo seems set to lead AEK from the front in their Europa League campaign too.

  • Match Details

Where is the game being played?

The Amex Stadium will play host to Europa League football for the first time in its history in this tie, with all tickets sold out as of Wednesday 20 September.

What time is kick-off?

Brighton’s European adventure begins with an 8:00 PM BST kick-off in Falmer, which will be 10:00 PM for fans in Greece.

How can I watch?

Live UK coverage of Brighton vs AEK Athens comes from the TNT Sports 1 channel, with the broadcast starting at 7:45 PM BST, 15 minutes before kick-off.

Fans can also stream the match via discovery+, where subscriptions cover TNT Sports and Eurosport.

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