Well, let’s face it, Xanthi is never an easy challenge. After they beat Aris 2-1 last weekend I really doubted our chances with them despite our recent run of good form.
My fears were confirmed early, or at least I thought so. We went down very early, in the 8th minute, after a severe mistake from Araujo. The first twenty minutes were generally very scary for AEK fans as we failed to take control of the game and Xanthi continued to come close to scoring.
As Blanco said after the match, however, the Xanthi must have acted like a slap to the face of the AEK players who quickly woke up and soon after going down earned a penalty. Unlike Djebbour a few weeks ago Blanco’s penalty was a direct one which went straight to the goal. After this we began to slowly take control of things however it was still a slow process.
The final twenty minutes of the first half saw us take a little more controlled and in the final minute of extra time a left footed Djebbour cross was knocked smoothly into the net by Leonardo. The goal meant that despite the cold and the rain us AEK fans saw the first half close with smiles on our faces.
The second half was delayed by twelve minutes due to the rain but when it did start we were treated by a much more confident display from the AEK players. Sure, Xanthi still managed to create some danger but the possession was largely controlled by us. Even Makos, who once again had a terrible first half, was able to provide a little more to the game (though his performance was still far from satisfactory).
Our third goal was off of a lovely counter attack (our counter attacks generally were very good today and another golden opportunity off of one earlier in the game could have resulted in a goal had Scocco not wasted the chance with a useless pass). Georgeas set up Blanco perfectly who only had to tap the ball into the net. That meant that Blanco now had two goals in the game! (yes people, Zorro is back!).
Saja was keeper today since Arabatzis injured his wrist in last week’s derby. I honestly wasn’t too confident when I heard this would be the case and while it wasn’t Saja’s worst performance with AEK it was far from flawless. Once again his clearances were terrible and Xanthi had a chance to score a goal similar to the one scored by BATE in OAKA.
Our defense was alright though we were caught off guard on a number of occasions and we left too many gaps, especially where Araujo should have been marking. Thankfully, Xanthi didn’t capitalize however they could have.
Geraldo, from what I could see, had a great game. He was solid and defended well and the same could be said for Georgeas who also provided quite a bit offensively.
Araujo would have had a flawless match were it not for his terrible mistake. He defended with strength and is not afraid to throw his weight around in order to get the ball. Sure, that may be why hes already received a number of red cards and many yellows but defenders need to be tough if they want to get the ball so I’m not complaining.
Majstorovic was good defensively I believe but his speed continues to be his weak point. He had a couple of chances to score from corners but unfortunately all his headers failed to hit the target.
Makos was disastrous. Lost the ball every time he got it and failed to make even the simplest of passes. Yet, Bajevic continues to play him. I’ll admit it, his second half performance was much improved but he has to show alot more if we wants to prove he deserves the starting spot. Unfortunately, Jahic was out due to cards (he will be out next match also after collecting ten yellows!) so our options were limited.
Kafes had a decent game though he didn’t contribute as much as against Giannena as far I could tell. Still, our midfield is much more confident when he is in.
Leonardo scored that important goal for us but I really didn’t see much of him until the match progressed. I had actually completely forgot he was in the starting XI. It had been since before Christmas (the match with Panionios where he also scored I believe) since he last started so he may have required a little time to find his place in the team once again. Overall though, it was a decent performance from him. He was involved in the switches with Scocco often (nromally Manduca’s job though he was out for this one) and they seemed to have worked well.
Scocco played well. I wouldn’t say this was his best match but he managed to contribute once again to the team (he had a great direct free kick just miss the cross bar) and he was very active in our counter attacks.
Blanco played more attack this match compared to last week and he seemed to be in form. Aside from scoring two goals he was actively involved in the plays up front and is able to control things well when the ball is at his feet even though he may not have the technical ability of Scocco. Djebbour also had a good game but he wasn’t as much of a goal threat as he normally is. Still, he provided that wonderful cross to Leonardo which made all the difference.
Well, so far in the second half of the season we have had three wins and three draws. Not bad at all considering our poor performance in the first half of the season and the fact that we have already played both PAO and Oly away and have managed to take four points from those two matches. 3-1 is a very pleasing result here considering how we were wrongfully affected by the ref in the first half of the season against Xanthi. Scocco said they wanted revenge and it looks like they got it.
We now, temporarily sit in fourth place. Aris were down at home 1-0 to Panthrakikos at half time! However, the game could not be continued due to terrible pitch conditions so if the weather allows it the game will be resumed today with the same score and only the second half will be played. If Panthrakikos can hold on to the slender lead, we will finish the week in fourth place.
Generally this was a great weekend to be AEK! Firstly, the second game with our new basketball coach and already a second win! What is more impressive is it was a home win without fans to Panionios, one of the toughest basketball teams in the league. Not only did we beat them, we beat them with the impressive score of 89-56 after the score was tied 28-28 at half time. It was a superb performance by AEK and things can only get better from here on. Hopefully we continue and finish the season with a chance of some European basketball next season.
Our handball team also got an impressive win. They beat current leaders, PAOK (who hadn’t lost a game yet this season) with a score of 26-25! Certainly a great weekend to be AEK! Hopefully we see more of this from our teams.