Final 4 for AEK!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League with tags , , on April 4, 2018 by alexaek

AEK has booked its place in the Basketball Champions League Final 4, exactly 50 years after winning the European Cup Winners Cup against Slavia. All we needed to do was not lose by more than 9 points so the final score of 83-83 against Strasburg was more than enough to see us through. At the moment, there is talk of Athens being the most likely city to host the Final 4 and not only would that be a huge boost to our chances of winning the tournament, but it would be so fitting that we win a European championship once again in the same city where we won our first 50 years ago.

The players, as expected, enjoyed every minute of their celebrations after the game:

Our supporters in France were also in great form after breaking the Champions League attendance record last week in Athens:

It was our players though who stole the show:

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AEK 3-0 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Panathinaikos, PAOK with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2018 by alexaek

The league finally started back up this weekend and AEK wasted no time getting back into their groove. Going into the match, its fair to say that I didn’t expect PAO to really trouble us much and, aside from a few scary moments at the start of the match, it was a game that went pretty much as I expected.

Before I go into a bit of detail about the game, its worth going over some news from earlier this week. The courts in Greece finally released their final decisions regarding the PAOK-Olympiakos match, and the PAOK-AEK match and while some may say that PAOK got off lightly (which I think they did), the news was overall pretty positive from an AEK perspective. Specifically, we were awarded the 3-0 win on paper after the fiasco involving Savidis and his gun after storming the pitch during our match against PAOK.

Bearing that in mind, along with our win today over PAO, we now find ourselves four points away from winning the league. Thats right, four points is all we need from our next four games against Platanias, Levadeiakos, Kerkyra, and Apollon. Three of those teams make up the bottom three of the standings and considering this has been one of our most successful seasons in recent memory, the championship is practically guaranteed to be ours as far as I’m concerned. Now obviously we don’t want to jump to any conclusions but its hard to not get excited about that. On top of that, we still have a pretty good chance of advancing in the cup, our stadium is making good progress, our basketball club has already won the cup and is close to a spot in the Champions League final four, all of that is making this one great season to be an AEK supporter all around.

Back to today’s game: it was a bit of a nervous start for us as PAO managed to create some chances early on. They even forced a huge save by Barkas that kept things even at 0-0 after Coulibaly managed to get a shot off from close range. Once things settled down though after about 10 minutes of play, it was mostly AEK from that point onwards. Araujo opened the scoring for us after yet another tremendous finish before Galo calmly put away a second goal for us. Araujo featured once again on the score sheet after scoring again to make it 3-0 and seal the win for us.

It helped our cause that PAO’s Insua received a red card in the first half but its safe to say that AEK were always going to be favourites against this PAO team. Araujo had an exceptional game once again, but Lazaros, Hult, and Galo also played great. On the other hand, I was a little concerned by Vranjes who at times seemed a little too relaxed in defense. Usually he’s extremely solid so I’m not too worried, but I feel like it was one of his weaker performances with AEK this season.

Our first goal is definitely the highlight of the match (and most likely of the week), but the other two goals were also very well taken. Its also worth keeping an eye out for Lazaros’ crossbar. If Lazaros had managed to score that, we would have had yet another contender for goal of the season from him.

Stadium Live Feed

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Jerseys, Nea Filadelfia with tags , on March 20, 2018 by alexaek

After many months of construction and many requests by fans on various AEK sites, we finally have a live stream (two, in fact) of the ongoing construction in Nea Filadelfia. It took a while but I must say that its been worth the wait. The quality of the two streams are outstanding and are in real time with seemingly no lag.

I was watching earlier on and the place was alive with workers all around. What was especially amazing was how late work was taking place. Even around 5 PM local time for me (which would be 11 PM in Athens) I saw workers taking care of stuff under the floodlights. They say the stadium should be built within a year and at this rate I might actually believe it.

The stream can be found here, but they can also be watched directly on YouTube: https://www.agiasofia.today

In other news (since we still don’t have any games to report on), I have something to report that may be of interest to any AEK supporters in England. England’s National Football Museum, located in Manchester, is currently displaying historic jerseys from around the world. One of the jerseys on display is an AEK jersey, specifically a jersey from the 1998-1999 season worn by Paris Zoubourlis. Its a beautiful kit, one of many beautiful jerseys put out by Kappa from the mid to late 90s.

jersey_zourboulis

More info on the museum itself can be found here: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com

At A Loss For Words

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2018 by alexaek

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in Greek football, something happens that makes you realize you haven’t seen anything yet. What unfolded in Toumba today proved yet again that you can really never know what to expect when it comes to this league (though calling it a “league” would be a little too generous… maybe “zoo” would be more appropriate).

It all started with what happened early Sunday morning (or late Saturday night for those of us in North America) as I mentioned yesterday. PAOK’s punishment for what happened two weeks earlier in Toumba were reversed as they were given back 3 points and were allowed to play with fans in the stadium for today’s match. How those decisions were made is beyond me, but what was more important today was the game at hand against the only team that could challenge us for the league.

The game got off to what was surprisingly a quiet start off the pitch. Little fan trouble from what I could tell and no issues in the locker rooms either, though the match itself was a dirty one. Tackles were coming from both sides and as would be expected, it wasn’t the kind of environment that encouraged flowing football. Eventually things settled down and we did see some chances for both sides, including scoring opportunities for Araujo, Livaja, and Bakasetas.

The match was heading for a 0-0 stalemate when at the 89th minute, PAOK scored from a corner. Or did they? Replays showed that a PAOK player was clearly in an offside position and though the referee originally indicated that the goal was a good one, he seemed to track back on that decision. After consulting with his linesman and dealing with pressure from both sets of players, he seemed to reverse his decision (a call which I believe was a good one, though “experts” in Greece seem undecided on whether the goal should have counted or not).

Now you might be wondering, what was so odd about that? A fairly dirty game, a few chances for both sides, and a last minute winner are all to be expected in a derby. Well, it was after the referee changed his mind on the goal that things unfortunately turned ugly. What happened next was honestly something I would never have expected to see, not even in Greek football.

At this point in the game with the score reversed back to 0-0, Ivan Savidis, owner of PAOK, stormed on to the pitch and instructed his players to leave the pitch. I guess he was attempting to protest the refs decision to disallow the goal? In either case, it didn’t help to calm the situation down at all and he faced resistance from his own players after they refused to leave the pitch and insisted on finishing the match. The situation escalated from there as Savidis made his way towards the refs and AEK’s bench, supposedly cursing officials including referee Kominis and a number of AEK staff members.

What made all of this almost unbelievable is one small detail that wasn’t originally shown on TV. Pictures that surfaced not long after all this happened show Savidis walking onto the pitch with a pistol strapped to his waist. Yes, thats right. PAOK’s owner walks on to the pitch and not only does he start threating officials and staff of AEK, but he does so with a gun on him. I can honestly say I’ve seen it all in Greek football now. I don’t know if Savidis thought he was back in Russia, where maybe that kind of thing happens regularly, but I think its safe to say you can understand why AEK players and staff made their way to the dressing room shortly after that.

pistol2pistol1

After the incident involving Savidis, the refereeing team also made their way to the dressing rooms and it was at this point where the result of the match was completely up in the air. Would the game continue? Would it be ended as a draw? It took around two hours before a decision was made and the decision that was officially declared by the ref was one that not even the radio commentators had ever seen before. Officially, the ref claimed a 1-0 PAOK win and declared the game “called off” because AEK refused to re-enter the pitch. So the goal counted, then was taken back, and was then re-awarded to PAOK after the fact. Yep, I don’t think I’ll ever see a day like this again in Greek Football.

Now, at this point the match might be awarded 1-0 for PAOK but I think its safe to say that this is far from over. This will definitely be taken to court, and AEK will have a strong case for having the result reversed in some way. I’m sure it will be a couple weeks at least until we know what officially the outcome of this match is. Its also worth noting that there is talk of the government shutting down the league, indefinitely or for the remainder of the season. I’m sure the headlines of newspapers throughout Greece will be pretty interesting…

PAOK Penalties Reversed

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby with tags , on March 10, 2018 by alexaek

You can never truly know what to expect when it comes to football in Greece. The morning of our game with PAOK in Toumba (literally the morning as the decision was made at 1 AM local time in Greece), PAOK was granted two of their demands after appealing the recent penalties inflicted on them due to crowd trouble before their game with Olympiakos.

What this means for us is that now we will play in a Toumba that will likely be packed rather completely empty as originally planned. Whether this will play in our advantage or not remains to be seen but PAOK will definitely be under pressure from their supporters as it is now them who are playing catchup with us.

On top of the reversal of the supporters ban, their 3 point deduction was also reversed. Had it stood, they would have been 5 points behind us before our game even started but as it stands now, they are only 2 points behind. It definitely puts more pressure on us as we now simply cannot afford to lose. A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world as PAOK have the slightly more difficult schedule for the remainder of the season, but this game really is a must win now. A win would put us 5 points clear with 5 games left to play (4 of which should, on paper at least, be fairly easy wins). Its safe to say that either way, our game with PAOK tomorrow is most likely the most important one we will play all season.

One Step Closer!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Cup, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2018 by alexaek

AEK took one huge step closer to the Championship today after beating Panionios 1-0 at home. However, it wasn’t our victory alone but rather what happened with PAOK and Oly that has made the difference. Prior to our game today, Asteras clinched an unbelievable 3-2 over PAOK in the 98th minute, a minute after PAOK had made it 2-2 in the 97th minute. On top of that, Olmympiakos and PAO played to a 1-1 draw after ten man PAO managed to tie the score in the 87th minute. Both those results mean we are now two points clear of PAOK and seven points clear of Oly.

All of that could change depending on whether Oly get awarded three points and PAOK get three points deducted after last week’s fiasco in Toumba, something which would also play out nicely in our favour. On top of that we play PAOK next weekend, a game which if we win could see us ultimately move eight points clear of them.

As for our game today, well it was really a game of two halves. The first half was rather enjoyable to watch as an AEK supporter. We created numerous chances (I think we had 13 by the end of the first half) and had a few legitimate goal scoring opportunities including a tet-a-tet which Araujo failed to put away. It was Livaja who made the difference though after latching onto a Galo cross and heading the ball in.

On top of attacking well, we also pressured Panionios relentlessly, so much so that they didn’t have a single chance at the end of the first 45 minutes. We defended well when they did move forward and overall looked well on track to sealing the three points.

The second half however was a different story. We were sloppy and careless, gifted Panionios way too much space, and struggled to really build and substantial attacks. I’ll blame it on fatigue for now, but hopefully we don’t see more of the same when we play in Toumba next week otherwise we won’t get away so easily. Thankfully, Panionios’ attack was fairly disjointed and failed to really threaten much and we were able to do enough to hold on.

Our match against Panionios today wasn’t the only match we played this week. I never got a post up about it, but we also faced Larissa in the first round of the Cup Semi-Finals. Unfortunately, the news to report isn’t good. We lost 2-1 which, on the bright side of things means we have a crucial away goal and should be in a good position to clinch our spot in the final when we play them again in Athens. The bad news about the result is that our undefeated streak has now come to an end. Its sad to the streak, which lasted around 24 games, come to an end like that but really in the grand scheme of things streak or no streak will hardly matter if we manage to hold on and win the league.

Like I said, I’m not worried about this result. Larissa are hardly a threat and a regrouped AEK should have no trouble beating this team when we face again in Athens.

Atromitos 1-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Derby, football, Greek Football with tags , , , , on February 26, 2018 by alexaek

So as you may have seen already, and as was mentioned in a comment in a previous point, the all important PAOK-Oly game was never played. I’m sure it comes as no surprise too that the reason was once again fan trouble from the PAOK fans.

Why would I bring this up in a post about a game between AEK and Atromitos? Well the possible implications in our hunt for the title could end up being decisive. Nothing is determined for sure yet but it seems quite possible that PAOK could have 3 points deducted, and will likely play a couple games without supporters. The 3 point deduction is huge as it drops PAOK 2 points below us and places us alone in 1st. Whats frustrating about today’s game is had we managed to hold on to our 1-0 lead, we would have had the chance be even further ahead of PAOK before we play them in a game where they likely won’t have any home support. Its a huge opportunity lost but at the end of the day I can’t say I’m surprised. Atromitos are never an easy team to face and afterall they were the last team to beat us in all competitions back in October of 2017. It didn’t help that fatigue has clearly started to get the best of us, resulting in a game where we often failed to control the pace for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately the disappointment didn’t end with the result itself. Livaja picked up a yellow meaning he will have to miss two of the next four games: Panionios, PAOK, Panathinaikos, and Platanias. On top of that, Araujo, Simoes, and Hult all picked up injuries during the game but I’m not sure yet whether any of them are particularly serious.

Highlights of today’s game are below, featuring Araujo’s goal to make it 1-0 for AEK and Warda’s beauty to tie it for the home team.

 

For something a little more uplifting, even if today’s result isn’t the end of the world, take a look at this video showing the progress being made in Nea Filadelfia. Its an exciting time to be an AEK fan as things are actually starting to come together regarding the stadium.