So, after our incredible win only five days earlier people were expecting similar things from last nights game. We thought we were going to get it also after building a healthy 3-1 lead with plenty of time left. The final score? 3-3
One thing was to blame for this result more than anything else. Our midfield. Kafes was out injured and Jahic was out due to cards. That left Makos, Nsaliwa, and Gentzoglou as our options for central midfield. Who did Bajevic (the hero from our derby win who is now being held as someone responsible for our result) decide to go with? Makos and Gentzoglou… big mistake.
Makos was terrible, or worse than that if it is possible. I feel bad for the guy. He tries hard, shows the passion, and clearly cares for AEK like he says, but he must not play another game for AEK. Our midfield was non-existent yesterday. At least we know Nsaliwa can handle the position good enough even though he may not be a star player. Whenever Makos got the ball he would loose it by either loosing possession or giving away the ball with lazy passing. I hate to say it but the guy is not for AEK. He was good at Panionios but he killed us yesterday.
Gentzoglou wasn’t as bad, and at least he scored a goal. But he was not enough to make a huge impact on our midfield. Without Kafes we were clearly hurting. He isn’t the greatest midfielder Greece has ever produced but he holds the ball well and can control it until he sees a good time to get it up. He’s also a fine defender and can stop the counter attacks early, something which our midfield failed to do on many occasions.
Its a shame our midfield was so poor yesterday since our attack really was quite good. They created chances whenever they did manage to get the ball (normally due either to Scocco playing the ball up or a long ball from Manduca) and were very dangerous. Blanco stayed behind during the week to practise finishing and it payed off after he nailed in a sitter which he may actually have missed a few weeks ago. Scocco again was superb and Djebbour showed promise but I think he needs one or two more games with the team. He gets the ball alot but holds on to it too long and instead of taking the chances he gets he tries to make things harder for himself. With a couple more games we should start to see him finishing off those chances on his own.
Our defense was alright but it wasn’t as tight as we needed. Atromitos deserves credit, they do have a good offense. That 3-0 home loss to Aris would have been different had Sifakis not pulled off some incredible saves. Karabelas and Araujo both had good games and Geraldo was solid, but Majstorovic was back to his old games of passing the ball back to the keeper and waiting until the last possible second to do so. The whole defence started the passing the ball at the back for a minute before getting it up tactic which we saw so many times last year. The fans were not impressed, neither was I, but I guess that’s largely due to the fact that we didn’t have that midfield that we so badly needed in order to get the ball up.
Atromitos scored first in the game but thankfully, probably because of the win on Wednesday, the fans only started singing louder rather than booing. We scored soon after to tie things up and Scocco gave us the lead just before half time. Blanco gave us the nice 3-1 lead during the second thanks to a perfect pass from Scocco (this guy really is incredible). However, things changed quickly after that.
Firstly, check out the video below of the goals.
If you had time to watch the video you would have noticed that Atromitos were awarded a penalty. Was it a deserved call? Absolutely not! However, they were given the penalty, Atromitos scored, we lost our momentum and Atromitos scored another one a minute later. Could this all have been avoided? Easily, if the ref hadn’t awarded them a fake penalty. Funny thing is, the ref wasn’t even sure if he was awarding the penalty for Makos or Majstorovic. When asked why he gave the penalty he first he said Makos, ten minutes later he said Majstorovic. Ah, you gotta love refs in Greece.
Anyways, by this point, the damage was done. We had trouble getting back in the game, something which was certainly by Atromitos’ dirty tactics of a player falling every minute complaining of a cramp. Around seven players must have fallen resulting in breaking up our momentum and wasting time. Every substitution they made also wasted another minute as the Atromitos players took five minutes to walk off the pitch at a leisurely pace while stopping to say hello to everyone on their way out.
One other problem which seriously affected us today was our weakness in the air. Every free kick and corner we had the Atromitos defenders got their heads to the ball first, even Majstorovic couldn’t do anything. Lately that’s where we were stronger, but not yesterday, and it really hurt us since we had many chances to score from corners or free kicks just outside the box.
There was some tension between the fans and Donis. Donis didn’t understand why the AEK fans were treating him so poorly (mmm, maybe because we saw some of the worst football in the history of the club and if it wasn’t for Dusan we wouldn’t have ended up where we did last season?) and he was saying beer cans were being thrown at him. The reporter on the radio, however, said there wasn’t one can thrown on the pitch.
Despite all that was mentioned above, AEK got what they deserved. Atromitos hit the post and had that went in things would have been different. At the end of they day though, we didn’t play our greatest game possible. I don’t know if the players were too cocky after our last match, or the midfield was really our weakness but its a shame, no matter what the reason was. The fans showed up, 15,000 of them. Not a huge crowd but much better than it normally would have been. It was a cold night yet the atmosphere from the AEK fans was still great, the best I remember since last season. 15,00 fans sounded like 40,000. They supported the team well but in the end we left with memories of why this is our worst season yet, rather than memories of the remarkable victory they pulled off five days earlier.