AEK 0-2 Atromitos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Greek Super League with tags , , on November 11, 2018 by alexaek

Well, I think its safe to say that the Championship is over for us at this point. As is the Champions League following our 2-0 loss to Bayern earlier this week… I guess all we have to play for now is the Cup, a far cry from the position we found ourselves in last season.

Today’s loss leaves us on 17 points, well behind PAOK who are on 26 and Atromitos on 24. Olympiakos are still within touching distance in 3rd thanks to their 1-1 draw with PAO today, though that is little consolation to us considering the hopes we had for the team before the start of the season.

Today’s game was a frustrating one to follow. We were the better team for 80 minutes and had 3 posts during those first 80 minutes, but no goals to show for it. Then, a couple lapses in our defense in the dying minutes of the game an Atromitos found a way to get not only one but two in the back of our own net. Atromitos are a strong side this season so part of me isn’t all that surprised, but its still a tough one to swallow considering how close we came to finding the back of the net ourselves. Atromitos’ coach even conceded himself that his side were lucky not to go down by a goal or two earlier in the match. As Atromitos striker Koulouris said, they knew that the longer AEK went without scoring, the more they would open up and it ended up being our cross town opponents who were able to capitalize on their chances.

It never helps having to play a game in front of empty stands, especially in a stadium as massive and expansive as OAKA. I believe this should be our last match of the supporters ban so knowing that we’ll have supporters in the stands for our upcoming home games against Xanthi and Lamia is at least something to look forward to.

Advertisements

Panathinaikos 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Derby, Panathinaikos with tags , , , , , on November 3, 2018 by alexaek

The day got off to a promising start after PAOK only managed to draw 1-1 against Atromitos. A win for us then against Panathinaikos would have seen us make up some ground on PAOK and Atromitos, the two sides currently sitting ahead of us in 1st and 2nd place. Unfortunately we only managed a draw ourselves, and to be honest a draw was the most we deserved from the match.

We weren’t terribly outplayed, but we weren’t exactly the better side either. A few seasons ago a draw away to Panathinaikos might have been a decent result in certain circumstances but realistically, we should be winning comfortably against them at the moment considering we’re defending champions while they’re fielding arguably one of the most inexperienced Panathinaikos sides in recent memory. They deserve some credit considering they’ve defied expectations so far this season, but if we had the same squad we had last season, I would see this game ending in a comfortable 2-0 win for us.

Once again it came down to us just not being clinical in the attacking third of the pitch. We had some chances and half-chances fall our way but we very rarely looked like scoring. Its almost starting to seem as though our attackers are just lacking in any creativity since teams seem to have a much easier time in shutting us down this season compared to last.

Its especially disappointing to see yet another derby this season without a win for us, considering the success we had in derbies last season. In the three derbies we’ve played so far this season, we’ve only managed two draws and a loss. At least we know that two of those derbies were away, but those are valuable points dropped, points that could make a huge difference when it comes down to it.

Unfortunately we have another tough game against Atromitos next weekend but at least the rest of the schedule from that point on until Christmas is fairly light. At the moment though, I’m nervous about the Atromitos game. They’re a team who can always be tricky to play against but this season they’ve been particularly strong. A win would, as goes without saying,  a big result for us considering Oly play Panathinaikos next weekend as well, a game in which they could definitely drop some points.

AEK 4-0 Aris

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2018 by alexaek

After putting behind the disappointing loss to Bayern behind us, we managed to get back on track with a fairly easy 4-0 win over Aris. I wasn’t able to catch the game but what I’m reading so far is that we were actually fairly unimpressive in the first half before opening the game up in the second. Boye opened the scoring early on for us before Ponce added two more in the earlier part of the second half. Livaja finished off the scoring with a fairly routine finish.

While we may have scored a comfortable four goals, Aris seemed to have had their fair share of chances too. Had their finishing been a bit more clinical they could have tied the game up which would have made things a little more interesting. In either case, it was a vital three points in front of an empty stadium that keeps us within reach of PAOK. PAOK meanwhile have to face Panathinaikos tomorrow, a team that has been in surprisingly good form this season. While PAOK are still favourites for the match in my opinion, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if PAO pull off the draw, a result which would keep us at four points behind PAOK. Meanwhile, Oly are still three points behind us though they face Apollon Smyrni tomorrow, a team that has yet to win a game this season. Having said that, Oly played OFI last week and lost 1-0, granting OFI their first win of the season, so anything is possible at this point. Who knows, Apollon might be desperate enough for points that they may just throw everything they have at Oly.

All in all it was a good result for us, and one that we badly needed  considering we’re up against PAO next week. I’m definitely impressed and surprised by how well PAO are managing so far this season, but I’d like to think that the extra maturity and experience on our team should be enough to see us manage a win, even if we’re playing in PAO’s home.

AEK 0-2 Bayern Munich

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League with tags , , on October 24, 2018 by alexaek

The stage was set for what we were all hoping would be a memorable night, something like what we witnessed against Milan over a decade ago. 60,000 supporters had almost filled OAKA and the atmosphere, as to be expected, seemed pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, the result ultimately didn’t live up to all the hype leading up to the game. Realistically our chances were always pretty slim. Sure this Bayern team seems to be weaker this season than in the past, but our form in the Champions League has also been pretty weak over the previous two games. Bayern has also had their back against the wall lately as a result of their string of poor performances so its safe to say they were desperately looking for a win of their own.

Ultimately it all comes down to the fact that our squad just isn’t strong enough. Can we still compete for the Championship? Perhaps, but Champions League is a whole different level and when you lose three of your best players in Araujo, Lazaros, and Vranjes, and fail to replace them with someone just as good if not better, this is what happens.

Thankfully theres still a chance we could salvage 3rd place in the group. The chances are slim, but with us on 0 points and Benfica only on 3, anything can happen. Although, it doesn’t help that two of the remaining three games are away (in Munich and Lisbon).

Possibly the one good thing to take away from the match? The fact that we definitely have some of the best supporters in Europe:

Apollon Smirnis 0-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Greek Football with tags , , , on October 21, 2018 by alexaek

The last Superleague win for AEK came on the 29th of September when we beat OFI 3-0. It was a bit of a relief to see us return to winning ways then when we beat Apollon 2-0 yesterday through goals from Mantalos and Livaja. The match itself wasn’t as straight forward for AEK as I was expecting it to be. We were clearly the stronger side though Apollon were fairly tight in defense and managed a few attacks of their own. Our biggest downfall though was our decisiveness in front of goal, something that has been affecting us for the past month or two. We’ve got a good defense and our midfield is up to the task as well but it seems like we’re still missing one key ingredient up front.

Mantalos’ goal was a beauty and Livaja’s came as a huge relief since up until that point, I was slightly worried Apollon might snatch a last minute draw just like we did against Olympiakos a couple weeks back. Thankfully they didn’t, and we managed to grab an important 3 points. Olympiakos lost early today which keeps them near us in the standings though PAOK managed to win the Thesaloniki derby which unfortunately sees them move further ahead.

As some of you may have noticed already, we were recently docked 3 points for some fan incidents during the AEK – Olympiakos match. AEK’s appeal was rejected however the team is now taking the case to the CAS court with hopes of the punishment being deemed inappropriate. Olympiakos fans were also involved in some incidents following their loss to OFI today, so it will be interesting to the see how the League handles that, and whether they give them the same punishment as they did to us ( 3 point deduction and two games with no supporters). Many eyebrows will be raised if Olympiakos somehow manage to come away without any form of punishment similar to what we received.

 

AEK 1-1 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2018 by alexaek

While last season was one of our best on record when it came to derbies, this season is shaping out to be anything but…

To be honest, I didn’t have the highest hopes as the game started. We always have a good shot against Olympiakos, particularly when playing at home, but having both Mantalos and Ponce out of the lineup was always going to be a huge blow to us. Surprisingly though, we quite easily controlled the pace of the match for almost the entire first half. In fact, it was safe to say that Olympiakos didn’t really look like threatening at all until the 44th minute when they hit the post.

Despite controlling the pace and possession for most of the first half, we struggled to make anything come of it. We did hit the post once ourselves but the team seemed lost in the final third of the pitch. It didn’t help that not only was Mantalos missing, but Simoes was having a particularly bad game. Usually we see Simoes all over the pitch, getting involved any chance he could, but he was nowhere to be seen on Sunday. Bakasetas tried to get some offense going, but Livaja and Klonaridis weren’t doing much to help out. Funny enough was the fact that Hult was probably our most dangerous player going forward aside from Bakasetas.

As I could almost anticipate, Olympiakos made us pay for our lack of scoring in the first half when Fourtounis managed to put one in the back of the net out of Barkas’ reach. With Olympiakos up 1-0 from early in the second half, the game looked more and more like a lost cause as time wore on until Bakasetas was able to sneak one in for us in the dying minutes of the game, leveling the score at 1-1 and salvaging a valuable point.  With seconds left in the game, Olympiakos had the easiest of chances to make it 2-1 in their favour when Fetfatzidis failed to put away a shot from point blank range.

All in all it was a disappointing outing for us, especially considering we had more than enough time to put ourselves ahead earlier in the match. Realistically there wasn’t much Ouzounidis could do from the bench considering key players like Simoes, Klonaridis, and Livaja simply weren’t having the best of games. The league isn’t a lost cause yet (far from it really) but a win would have put us just one point off of first place. As it stands, we’re currently tied for 3rd with Olympiakos, level on 13 points.

AEK 2-3 Benfica

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League with tags , , , , , , , on October 2, 2018 by alexaek

This sport can be so cruel at ties. Today’s match was, as is every match in the Champions League group stages, a crucial one. A win would have put us in a good position going forward, a draw would have at least salvaged a vital point, but instead we ended up on the losing end again. Except it could have been so different…

We got off to the worst start possible, conceding early after some disastrous defending which saw us fail to get to a lose rebound right in front of our own net. It got worse from that point on as another defensive lapse allowed Benfica to go 0-2 up before the half, this time after our defense failed to detect a run into our box which never should have been allowed so much space.

From that point on however, the momentum slowly started to shift in our favour starting from the sending off of Benfica’s Ruben Dias just before half time. The red card seemed to be all the motivation that we needed as the second half was almost all ours. While the first half got off to the dream start for Benfica, it looked like the second half might have been ours for the taking. Just seven minutes in we saw ourselves halve the defecit when Klonaridis did well to latch onto a ball that Hult sent right into his path. Klonaridis was again the hero when, ten minutes after his first goal, he managed to level the score for AEK.

From this point on all of OAKA must have believed that we are on the verge of one of our best nights in European competition but after all the effort to even the match at 2-2, it just wasn’t meant to be. Despite doing all they could to make their way back into the match, another defensive lapse, this time in the middle of the pitch, allowed Benfica to score a third time and take back the lead. What made this goal harder to swallow than the others though is the fact that we so easily should have gone up 3-2 instead when just a minute prior, Klonaridis went for the hat trick instead of teeing up Giakoumakis who would have had the easiest tap in to finish for the lead. It was a mistake on Klonaridis’ part for sure, one which he apologized for after the match, but its tough to look back on that moment and realize just how close we were to completing a comeback that we’d remember for ages.

Our defending today was awful, theres no denying that. But theres also no denying that it was an impressive effort to get as close as we did to getting the win. Unfortunately though, we walk away from our second match without a single point, something which leaves us in a pretty uncomfortable position. On paper its not over. Currently both Ajax and Bayern are level on 4 points while Benfica is just behind them with 3. Theoretically that still leaves us with a chance of at least finishing third in the group. Having said that, we still have to face Bayern twice and while they may not be experiencing their best season in recent memory, I still can’t see us coming away with much from either of our matches against them. As one commenter online said, the fact that they still aren’t comfortably in 1st place just means they’ll be that much more desperate for the win when they face us…

It was an unfortunate outcome to say the least, but at this point its not really worth dwelling on what could have been. Afterall, we face Olympiakos in just a few days, a match which I don’t see being an easy one for us. The fact that Olympiakos play a Europa League match on Thursday is a positive for us, considering they may be a little more fatigued than us. Having said that, they’ll also be just as anxious to get the win as us having just lost at home to PAOK in a game which they really should have won. One thing is for sure, if this game is anything like recent AEK – Olympiakos fixtures, we should be in for a good one.