Im pretty sure Ive used that title before but Im going to use it again because I feel it works for the occasion. Today, in the same stadium, against the same team we so miserably drew 0-0 with five days ago, we witnessed a performance from AEK that was unlike anything we’ve seen yet this season (in my opinion). Why? Maybe because Manolo decided to make the changes that were needed soon enough (some of the changes most of us were calling for before the last game as well!)…
I don’t know how start off other than by saying we were superb! We dominated them in the midfield, in their own end… we out passed them, we were better lined out tactically, our players were up for the task at hand, and it was just all around a wonderful game from our boys. The score line of 4-0 certainly suggests the same however to be honest the match could have very easily ended up with a few more goals for AEK.
Saja? Didn’t have to do much to be honest… I may have missed a few bits here and there but from what I saw our defense did most of the dirty work, forcing Saja to have very little to deal with.
Our defense? I don’t know what to say, but I loved everything our defense today represented. Passion and experience from Georgeas and Dellas, young talent from Mateos, and hard work and dedication from Karabelas… it was enough to get the job done, and with ease. The Mateos-Dellas combination at centre back is one Im really a fan of and I hope Manolo keeps going with it… I feel the two compliment each other very well when on the pitch. Georgeas had a wonderful assist on Scocco’s first goal today and did everything he needed to, just like every match he plays in. I realise he never was and certainly never will be an outstanding talent in terms of wing backs, but he plays with some much heart and has a great understanding of the game, something which many other players lack… ultimately though, it leads to us seeing the most we can from him both in terms of going forward and defending. Karabelas also had a good game and to be honest, Ive been quite pleased with him this season. He’s another player who always puts the effort in, his crosses have been improving, and I see him getting involved in plays far more often (though that may just be me).
In midfield we had Michel, Diop, Makos, and Guerreiro and it was a combination which worked! I just hope Manolo takes note and doesn’t change things come next match. To be honest, I don’t remember Makos standing out today however, poor streams means I missed some of the match. I did read that he played very well so I guess I just overlooked him. The same I would have to say for Michel… in fact it was Diop and Guerreiro who stood out today (that’s not to say Michel and Makos didn’t do their job, they most certainly must have considering the way we controlled things in the midfield today).
Before going in to specifics, I’d like to just say that our midfield as a whole was almost perfect today. It was as if they all were on the same page with each other… positioning, passing, defending, moving the ball around and controlling it when needed, we were doing everything we could to control the play and create when the opportunity arose, and our activity inside the PAOK box today suggests the same (compared to how rarely we broke their defense down just five days ago). Diop has certainly been bringing his best with him recently and he was finally rewarded today with a goal (after hitting the post twice last match). Roger brought the creativity we so desperately lacked last match and to see the whole team played when he was in control was wonderful. Id also like to point out that his set pieces are superb. A free kick and a corner he took today both led to goals and every ball he was sending in the box was perfect.
Up front things got interesting, with Blanco starting and Scocco playing a free role alongside him. At the end of the match Scocco said he finally played his best position after two and a half years and his two goals (both classic Scocco goals) support what he said. Ive thought about how he would be up front before and Im glad to see it tried out… with Guerreiro taking control of things behind the forwards, I think we can afford to see Scocco up front. Blanco played well and tried hard to get a goal to his name but things just didn’t work out for him today… I still hope to see him start next match, and especially in Toumba… he always seems to find a way to score up there
Also, our fourth goal came from Dellas… a lovely timed run resulted in him latching on to Guerreiro’s cross before PAOK’s keeper could get his hands to it. Fantastic seeing him get on the score board today.
I must say, looking at our goals scored today, we saw two goals scored with headers (shows we have options in the box from both Diop and Dellas, as well as Libe when fit), a goal from from team work and crisp passing, and a goal created from some fantastic individual talent (as well as good decision making from Michel)… overall a perfect set of goals scored today, clearly showing how we took control of the game today in every aspect.
Now, will we see the same thing from our boys the next matches coming up? I suppose some of that depends on Manolo, but things are going well and after today only a fool would tinker with the team further. The win today sees PAOK remain further behind while we reclaim third (however Oly Volou and Kavala are not far behind) and PAO’s slip against Larissa means if we keep putting in solid performances, we could end up in a decent position come play off time.
However, what I hope for more than anything is that we go to Toumba and play exactly like we played today. If we do, the qualification to the final is ours WITHOUT A DOUBT. Even in Toumba, this PAOK team today will have no chance if we play the way we did.
FORZA AEKARA!!!! Vamos Bien!
4-0... its been a while since we've seen that scoreline!