PAO 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2017 by alexaek

After beating our Athenian rivals with a score of 1-0 over the weekend, they returned the favour with a 1-0 win of their own courtesy of a Leto penalty. I was following along to the commentary and while we had a few chances of our own, it seemed like a very lackluster performance overall from AEK.

Chygrinskiy and Vranjes (who ultimately left the game after receiving two yellow cards) were solid for us at the back and Galanopoulos had a good game in the midfield but aside from those three, there seemed to be little ambition or creativity from any of our players. I have to say though that I’m not entirely surprised. We played alright in the game against PAOK and we managed to get a win last game but overall these playoffs feel forced from all the teams involved, rather than being something they want to be involved with. Just looking at the scores of the eight games played so far suggests that too, with not a single game seeing more than one goal scored per team.

Today’s result luckily doesn’t leave us in an awful position just yet. It isn’t perfect, but we’re still second with a two point gap to PAOK. Having said that, we still play PAOK at home and have made it past the two away derbies so on paper we should be able to get the six points from the next two games which would clinch first place for us in the playoffs. It won’t be easy though seeing as we lost to Panionios at home already and we only barely got the win over PAOK in Thessaloniki. But, its definitely realistic to expect us to win our last two games if the team plays the football we saw them play earlier in 2017. Ultimately it depends on which team decides to show up: if its the AEK squad from today or from the Cup final, then we’ll be lucky to come away with three points from the next two games. If, however, we see the AEK that we saw just after Jimenez took over, the AEK team that was scoring goals on a constant basis and barely conceding, then we can fully expect to find ourselves in a Champions League qualifying spot by the end of May.

AEK 1-0 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2017 by alexaek

We managed to come away with the three points at the last minute yesterday against PAO, courtesy of a late goal from Lazaros against his former club. The win follows our disappointing home 0-1 home loss to Panionios, a performance which saw us create very few noteworthy chances.

Luckily we got the better result yesterday against PAO, a result which puts us in first place in the playoffs courtesy of PAOK’s 1-0 win against Panionios. It wasn’t a great performance by any means, especially considering we were playing against a depleted PAO squad, but it definitely puts us in a good spot going into the fourth round.

Thankfully we managed to create some chances this game with Mantalos coming close on a header. Arguably the biggest chance though came when Almeida was faced with a rather routine tap into a practically empty net. Unfortunately though he came up short and ended up sending the ball over the cross bar, missing a chance that no professional forward should ever realistically miss.

The game seemed to be heading to a 0-0 draw before Lazaros took a shot from distance that managed to sneak its way into the net. It was the kind of goal that we’ve come to expect from him, a shot from distance with enough power that it manages one way or another to find its way into the net, and I must say that its nice to see him go for it. I’ve always felt that it doesn’t hurt to take shots if you know you have a good foot: maybe it goes in, maybe it goes out for a corner, or maybe you get a helpful rebound, either way a lot of good can come of it.

It wasn’t all good news this weekend though as AEK’s basketball team faced PAO for game four of the Basket league playoffs. After winning a historic match against PAO two games earlier, we ended up falling short last week in game three. All was not lost though as game four was to be played in front of our supporters again and I felt like we had a chance to even the series for a second time. It was not meant to be however as not only did we lose, but we lost in a huge way with a final score of 67-105 showing just how big the difference was between the two sides. Our defense was awful and practically non-existent at times and our offense looked extremely uninspired. It was too bad considering the team gave us so much hope with that win last weekend.

Its the end of the season again for us, but I think this past season really does set us up well for the next one. We had a great run in Europe and we looked good a lot of the times against PAO and Olympiakos. We clearly aren’t where we want to be yet to challenge for a European final or the Championship, but the foundations are there. Unfortunately though, a lot of work still needs to be done and money still needs to be spent. Its promising though and if management is keen on building upon what they have, as they seem to be, we have reason to optimistic about what lies ahead.

A Return to Better Days

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by alexaek

If you’re reading this, you probably noticed that I never wrote anything about our 2-1 loss to PAOK in the Cup final. Really it came down to not wanting to write anything since that game was a disaster from before kickoff. It started with the terrible organization, with the game almost being cancelled since the seats didn’t have numbers on them. Then came the fighting between “supporters” within the stadium as well as outside of it. Of course we had the game itself, which was a disappointment on every level thanks to our awful performance and the offside game winner for PAOK.

Overall, not the kind of final I was hoping for. Certainly not the kind of final that will be remembered fondly throughout Greece by fans of the sport aside aside from the PAOK fans.

Thankfully, we were able to somewhat put all that behind us with not one great result, but two. It started with our basketball team managing, after nine years, to finally beat PAO. Even better, the win tied up our semi-final series with them at one game apiece. It was a tight game until the end, as many of our derbies have been this season, but a huge win regardless which gives us enormous momentum heading into the third game. The win only ties the series and we still have plenty of work to do, but to finally get past this hurtle and win a game against our cross town rivals shows that its definitely possible. Will it be enough to get us to the finals? Well I hate to say that PAO are still favourites but at this point nothing is guaranteed anymore.

The day only got better from that point on as we headed north to take on PAOK for the first round of the playoffs. We clearly came out seeking to make a statement after the loss to PAOK in the cup and for the majority of the first half we were easily the stronger team. As the commentator on the radio put it at one point, AEK seemed like the home team as we outplayed PAOK throughout the pitch. The breakthrough came early on as Didac, who had a great game along with most of our defense, latched on to a perfect ball from Mantalos and neatly tucked in the finish. His goal would prove to the deciding factor as neither side would find a way to score from then on, but there were certainly chances.

The game was a great way to put everything from the cup behind us as not only does it get us a huge three points away in Toumba, but it puts us first in the playoff table after Panionios and PAO tied earlier in the day (though Panionios were unfortunate not to come away with the win). Its still early but to already find ourselves in first after starting with fewer points than PAOK and PAO is the best outcome we could have hoped for after the first round of playoffs. Our next match is at home against Panionios, a game I feel like we should comfortably take, while PAO host PAOK in Athens. I could personally see that game going either way as PAO will be seeking to get some revenge of their own after being knocked out of the cup while PAOK will be looking to recover lost ground after losing, not to mention they’ll also be out to prove that they were legitimately the better team against PAO in the cup semi-finals.

 

AEK 0-1 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2017 by alexaek

The other day, Fourtounis made a comment claiming that on Wednesday (today), Olympiakos would “show which team is the best”. Now I’m kind of confused about this because surely, “the best” team would be the team that made it to the Cup Final? But in this case, Olympiakos didn’t in fact make it to the Final, so how can they be the best? Maybe Fourtounis was stuck in a little day dream where he imagined himself in a black and yellow jersey, celebrating in front of 50,000 supporters as he and his team booked their place in the finals:

All kidding aside, it has to be said that today’s performance wasn’t the greatest. We definitely created some chances but we left a lot to be desired and its really only thanks to Olympiakos’ inability to create anything worthwhile that we got away with the result we were looking for. Its unfortunate really since I was really expecting a win. Maybe not a blowout, but I was anticipating a 1-0 game for us, just something to really seal the deal without causing too much trouble.

But hey, why focus on the negatives you might ask? I don’t really plan on it, we just booked our ticket to the 23rd Cup final in AEK’s history so I really don’t have much to complain about. Having said that, we’ll definitely need to look better in the Final regardless of whether we play Panathinaikos or PAOK. At the end of the day though, its a Cup final and just being a part of it will give our players the energy and drive to give the best that they have to offer.

There were some interesting points to take from the match that deserve some attention, the first of which regards Vranjes. I love the guy and his passion, he clearly relishes the opportunity to play for AEK and even more so when a big game comes around. Having said that, he’ll have to be careful when the final comes around. He was close to getting sent off today and it took the intervention of his own teammates to make sure he didn’t go off the rails.

Its also worth noting the Anestis, who actually had a pretty solid game, got sent off in extra time. To be honest, he was quite clearly wasting time so I feel like the ref wasn’t left with much choice. What was particularly amusing about this situation was the fact that we had no remaining substitutions at that point which resulted in Almeida playing goal for the remaining few minutes. Luckily, he wasn’t really tested.

As is typical with games involving Olympiakos (particularly games in which the result doesn’t go Olympiakos’ way), a number of the higher profile members of the organization had some comments to make about what took place. In classic Savvas fashion, he came out with some very valid points about the officiating today, claiming that it was 80-20 in favour of AEK. I think he has a point, after all how can this reckless tackle on Ansarifard not be called as a penalty for Olympiakos:

Part of me wishes that Savvas never opens his mouth again but then the other part of me will miss his weekly comedy routine. 80-20 in favour of AEK, while giving five minutes of extra time and then another five minutes on top of that, and a red card to AEK’s keeper… I’ve doubted it for a while but now I really can’t believe that Savvas and his crew over at Olympiakos are actually serious.

Enough about them though, how about our supporters and the atmosphere they created in OAKA this evening? The scenes from the game earlier today really make me miss Athens… Definitely my favourite banner this season:

The photos below come from AEK365 and can be seen here as well:

Beautiful scenes as always. And now, the final! At the moment its scheduled for May 6th, but we won’t know until tomorrow whether we will face Panathinaikos or PAOK. To be honest, I don’t see PAOK turning around their two goal deficit to Panathinaikos, but it can definitely happen.

 

Olympiakos 1-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2017 by alexaek

On AEK’s 93rd birthday, we were treated to an incredibly important win, one which sees us put a foot into the Cup Finals. As Jimenez said today, the future of this team is bright and what we’ve seen up to and including our victory in Karaiskaki, I see no reason at all for us not to go ahead and win the Cup for a second straight season.

Now I don’t want to get too carried away since nothing in football is certain, especially considering despite the fact that we came away with a win, Olympiakos were still very much in the game. In fact both teams had a few good chances to increase the score throughout the match so we definitely cannot discount Olympiakos at this point. Having said that, with two critical away goals and the next game in an OAKA which I feel will be very close to sold out, I’m pretty confident that we’ll be playing in the final in less than a month’s time. Its also worth keeping in mind that our form against Olympiakos has been surprisingly good with AEK winning four of the last five matches between the two sides.

As I said, Olympiakos did have a couple chances so I won’t sugarcoat our performance and say it was flawless since it clearly wasn’t. We were great going forward, but we did allow a little to much space at times in the back. Overall though, what I really noticed with AEK today was that this was the most confident performance I’ve seen from our team in Karaiskaki since our last 2-1 victory there. Previous matches we’ve played in Piraeus seemed shaky, uncomfortable, and as if we just generally didn’t have a plan. In the past, at least for the last three or so seasons, we tended to play in a way that resulted in us sitting back and hoping for a couple counter attacks. Today, however, was a different story. We played with total control for much of the game, a clear game plan, and a team that didn’t seem to be affected at all by nerves. It was definitely a breath of fresh air and one of the clearest signs yet that Jimenez knows what hes doing with the club.

There was the usual shenanigans that follow an Olympiakos loss, with players and management alike criticizing the officiating. Truth be told, I genuinely don’t even know what they were complaining about today as every handball/penalty they called for were, in realities, clean plays. I guess they need to blame someone though? Although if anyone should complain it would be AEK in this case as Seba should have received a straight yellow for his deliberate trip of Araujo (see video below).

Araujo was, as is pretty much expected at this point, our standout player. Considering the technique and vision he possesses, I really don’t see a way we can keep him past the summer. I would love nothing more than to see that happen, but theres no way Las Palmas aren’t noticing the amazing performances hes been consistently been putting in and while I wish we could offer whatever they would ask for him, I just don’t see any way we could possibly afford his price tag.

Mantalos also put in a great performance and I thought the way he and Araujo linked up on the first goal was just brilliant. Also worth noting was the fact that both Vranjes and Chyrinskiy were in the starting lineup today and while I found our defense to be a little porous at times, they both had great games.

For those who wish to mark it in their calendars, the second leg will take place on the 26th of April. Its still early to say but the crowd will definitely be a sizable one, if not a sell out.

Highlights:

 

The Seba trip:

 

One of the “penalties” Olympiakos called for (I don’t see it either):

 

Another “penalty” they were calling for (maybe if they would just focus on playing the game they wouldn’t be so embarassed in front of their own supporters):

AEK Bounces Back with Two Great Wins

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2017 by alexaek

After our unfortunate result against PAO last weekend, the team wasted no time in finding some form again with two impressive results: a 2-0 away win against Platanias and a comfortable 5-0 win against Kerkyra in Athens.

The 2-0 win against Platanias was particularly noteworthy for two reasons, first of which was the fact that not only did Vinicius start the game at left back, but he also played a fantastic game which also saw him score the opening goal. Also worth noting from the game in Chania was the fact that Aravidis came on as a sub and scored yet again. His goal was a beautifully taken one and judging by what Jimenez had to say after the match, I think we might see Aravidis play at least a few more times before the season ends.

Our second game, which took place today, was an all too easy 5-0 win against Kerkyra. Didac, Pekhart, and Bakasetas were the scorers with Pekhart and Bakasetas both scoring two. Definitely a performance which helps boost confidence heading into the homestretch before the playoffs but what I appreciated just as much as the score was seeing Bakasetas hold a Lambropoulos jersey after the game as a show of support for his injured teammate. Hearing the comments that players have made, it sounds like the atmosphere in the locker rooms is more positive than it has been all season which is something that was sorely missing with previous managers, and our performances so far with Jimenez certainly suggest the same.

It was an interesting day in the superleague today with PAOK beating Panathinaikos 3-0 and Olympiakos barely holding on for a 1-1 draw with Levadeiakos. The results don’t chance anything at the top of the table, but it sets up an exciting final two games as far as the 2nd through 5th place teams are concerned.

 

AEK 2-3 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, football, Greek Football, Greek Soccer with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by alexaek

Well I guess all good things must eventually come to an end. After going undefeated for so long with Jimenez as coach, we finally faced our first defeat in months after a heartbreaking loss to PAO.

I was away for the weekend so I didn’t get the chance to watch the game live, but I did record it so when I get the chance I’ll try to catch a bit of it. From the sounds of it though, it seemed like it was quite the entertaining match. The result was definitely not what I had hoped for and to be honest, not what I was expecting. Unfortunately though, you never know what to expect when getting back to action after long international breaks. These breaks often seem to come at a terrible time, as they did for us these past two weeks when we seemed to have some momentum. I was afraid we’d come back a little hesitant and it seems like we did.

Thankfully, we’re still in a playoff spot but had we managed to hold on to the draw rather than concede in the last minute, we would have been only two points off of PAO. Our schedule from this point on though is, in theory, a comfortable one so I imagine we’ll manage to stay in fifth until the end of the season.

I won’t comment much on the game since I didn’t see it, but I will mention that it looked like, once again, our supporters put on quite the show. Although I will say I was a bit disappointed by the size of the crowd.

One final word though, with regards to some interesting news out of Greece last week. It was announced that, for the first time since the playoff format was setup in the Superleague, next season’s champion will also take part in the playoffs. I was never a big fan of the playoff format but having 1st through 5th play for the title at least makes a lot more sense, in addition to hopefully making the playoffs a whole lot more interesting in seasons to come.

On a basketball related note, today was the anniversary of our famous win against Slavia, when our basketball club became the first Greek side to win a European trophy. That famous result of course happened in 1968, and to see some pictures of the team honouring the event, check out this link.