Aberdeen must not allow themselves to be intimidated by the passionate, hostile PAOK crowd at the Toumba Stadium on Thursday.
The stadium is renowned for creating a daunting atmosphere for visiting teams.
However, the Dons cannot be fearful of the atmosphere.
We saw a bit of what the PAOK fans can deliver at Pittodrie when there were around 1,500 of them cheering on their team.
You can imagine that multiplied by about 20 at the 28,000-capacity Toumba Stadium. It will be an intense atmosphere.
However, the one thing I have found over the years is that the crowd cannot win games – unless you let them influence you.
PAOK are a very good team and that has to be addressed.
They are top of the Europa Conference League Group G with a maximum nine points from their opening three fixtures.
PAOK have already beaten HJK Helsinki, Eintracht Frankfurt and Aberdeen.
Aberdeen must have the blinkers on when they go on to the field of play in Thessaloniki to block out the home crowd.
They have to cut out what is going on away from the pitch and concentrate on the football and the gameplan.
Don’t be intimidated or affected by the crowd.
It is not going to be easy to do that, but it is how Aberdeen must approach it.
The Dons have to look back at the performance against PAOK at Pittodrie – particularly in the second half until the late collapse.
Unfortunately, they ultimately lost 3-2.
But the positive aspects from that game have to be taken for the game in Greece.
That should give them confidence they can take something from the Group G leaders.
A win would be fantastic, whilst a draw would be creditable and would add to the positivity around the club at the moment.
There is no doubt facing PAOK in Thessaloniki will be a difficult challenge.
Every team who play the Greek Super League team away will find it tough.
Aberdeen will know by Hearts’ 4-0 loss to PAOK away in the Europa Conference League play-off earlier this season that it will be a real challenge.
However, the way to address these games is to embrace the challenge and questions being asked of you.
There is no doubt the Aberdeen players will be asked a lot of questions on Thursday when they play PAOK.
But that is what the players, manager and club want – to be tested at European group stage level.
So you just have to say “bring them on”.
The bigger the game the better is my outlook in these circumstances.
Embrace the challenge.
A real positive is that Aberdeen will go into the game against PAOK on a high.
It has been a positive week for the Dons after recovering very strongly from the disappointing 2-0 loss to Kilmarnock.
The pressure was on the Dons to deliver last week against Hibs in the Viaplay semi-final and Motherwell in the Premiership.
Both games were of huge importance in the context of the domestic season.
The Dons now have a cup final to look forward to and have also reignited their league campaign.
A lot was riding on those games and Aberdeen showed their character by winning them both.
The Dons displayed a lot of drive and determination to get over the setback of Jack MacKenzie being sent off when it was 0-0 in the semi-final against Hibs.
Despite the blow of being reduced to 10 men, the Dons managed to win 1-0 to get into a final – which is no mean feat.
It gives the fans a final on December 17 to look forward to.
Reaching a final will also give Aberdeen confidence going into the game with PAOK.
MacKenzie can count himself lucky sending off wasn’t costly
Defender Jack MacKenzie can count himself lucky because his sending off did not cost Aberdeen a Viaplay Cup final spot.
If the Dons had lost after MacKenzie’s dismissal in the Hampden clash with Hibs, that would bring baggage which might have followed him for the rest of his career.
MacKenzie got away with it in that sense.
I hope he learns from it because it could have been a serious situation for MacKenzie if the result had gone the other way and the Dons lost.
I know how that can hang over a player for a long period of time if you are sent off in a huge game and the team go on to lose.
If the result had gone the other way, MacKenzie would have felt a lot of criticism coming down on him from Aberdeen fans.
He has dodged that and needs to learn from it.
MacKenzie needs to keep his composure and never again react in the way he did when pushing Lewis Miller.
You don’t have to retaliate or become involved in flashpoints like that. Just be focused on the game.
His reaction was wrong and MacKenzie will know that now.
You must keep your composure on the field of play.
It could have been a defining moment for Aberdeen and MacKenzie’s career – all in a negative way.
He must take that lesson on board and not let it happen again.