Panthrakikos 1-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Dellas, Euro Cup, football, Greek Soccer, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2015 by alexaek

A lucky win for us today considering we were outplayed by Panthrakikos for much of the match. A valuable three points away from home, but I’m really hoping we’ll start seeing more convincing performances from our team in the next few matches.

Overall we were lacking in every position today except for maybe goalkeeping. Baroja was solid aside from a few moments where he let the ball slip away from him. Other than that, he made some fine saves and was not at fault at all for the goal after it took a nasty last minute deflection.

Defensively we were okay, though at times we gave Panthrakikos far too much time on the ball in front of our net. It seemed like Poyet had told us to defend deep and soak up the pressure and for the most part it worked. Panthrakikos were forced to play the ball outside our box and could rarely make it in, but they weren’t afraid to take shots and it was only a matter of time before one went in. I don’t mind us playing a deep defensive line since we seemed to handle it decently, but I would like to have seen more pressure on the player with the ball. Rarely was any defensive pressure applied until a Panthrakikos player was in our box, but it would not have hurt to have pressured them a bit further out. If we had been playing a stronger team, giving that much space to their attackers would not have ended so well for us and I’m really hoping its not how we’ll be defending from now on.

Midfield was uninspiring today. I remember the last few games with Dellas before the Olympiakos derby, we had been playing such wonderful football in the middle of the pitch. Lots of one time passes, well placed balls, the players seemed to always know where their teammates were. Today, it seemed like all of that had disappeared. Instead, we looked lost and confused in the middle and were only able to make predictable plays down the wings, plays that Panthrakikos were able to defend with more and more ease as the game progressed. I know its still early but I have not been terribly impressed with how we’ve been playing under Poyet. Maybe he still needs time to work out how to use the players he has, and I have no problem giving him some time, but we really need to start playing better, and soon. I don’t say this for my sake alone so that I can enjoy how we play more, but for the fact we will have a really hard time scoring if we continue to play in such a dull and predictable way.

Offensively, I’m not quite sure what to say, partly because I was never quite sure who was playing offense today. Aravidis was hardly present at times and dropped back into the midfield while Buonnanotte would often be the one playing in the box. Other times, it would seem as though no one player wanted to venture too far forward. I can’t help but get the feeling that Poyet is still working on positions and that neither he nor the players really know what his plan is.

Highlights for the match can be found here:


Time for some basketball updates now. There have been two games since my last post regarding the basketball team, and both were fantastic wins for us. The first was our 78-82 away win against Krazny. The win was our fourth in a row for the Eurocup, putting us in second place in our group with 4 wins and 2 losses. We are now in a great position to challenge for first in the group, or at least secure our place in the next round, with a win against Galatasaray on Wednesday. Galatasaray currently have 5 wins and 1 loss so a win for us would even the record and almost guarantee we progress to the next stage.

To make this week even better for our basketball team, we won our seventh league game in a row on saturday, a very convincing 54-78 away win against Kifissia. This win means we continue our perfect record for this season and gives us a good chance of cementing our place in the top three if we win at home against Aris this weekend.

On top of the two great wins for us, the week got even better when we announced the singing of DJ Cooper. Cooper, along with Mavrokefalidis, has been one of the best players in the Eurocup this season and already has experience in Greece. He has had a phenomenal season and the fact that we’ll have both him and Mavrokefalidis on the team is huge. They are two of the best scorers in the Eurocup this season and his addition to the team will certainly help us against the bigger teams in the league.

AEK 84-78 Apollona Patras

Posted in AEK, Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2015 by alexaek

Another league win for AEK, bringing our record so far this season to six wins in six games (our second best record since the modern league started). The win puts us first with 12 points, although both PAO and Olympiakos both play tomorrow. Decent game for most of our players, though Sakota had a hard time settling in today. He has been pretty solid the past few games so its understandable that he’ll have a hard time occasionally. Our top scorer was, unsurprisingly, Mavrokefalidis with 16 points followed by Kalabokis and Hairston with 12 each.

If anyone wants to catch the game, it can be watched in its entirety here:

Neptunas 80-86 AEK

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Euro Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2015 by alexaek

A huge away win for AEK today in EuroCup Basketball, our third win in a row putting us in a very good position for advancing to the next round. It wasn’t the easiest match but as has been the case for us many times this season, we managed to come back stronger in the second half when we needed to most. One thing I’ve loved about our team so far this season is they almost always manage to find a way fight their way back into any game, sometimes overcoming gaps as wide as 18 points to do so.

Our best player was once again Mavrokefalidis, scoring 27 points and receiving MVP of the day award. It seems as though we haven’t come up against a team yet that can find a way to stop him, no matter how hard they try. Aside from Mavrokefalidis, some other noteworthy performances were put in by Sakota, Carter, and Warren.

Today’s win puts us in second place in our group with three wins and two loses. The next three closest teams, Kizhny, Neptunas, and Hapoel Jerusalem all have two wins and three loses so its definitely far from over. Considering we’ve already played our hardest game (Galatasaray away) and the fact that the top three teams advance to the next stage, I’d say we have a pretty good chance of going through which would be fantastic for our first season back in Europe. Our next game is away to Krazny, a game which could go either way really. Our first game against them was a very narrow loss, and it was the only game Krazny have won in the group. We’ve only gotten better since then, and have also boosted our squad with the signing of Mavroeidis a couple days ago, so I think the game is definitely ours to take, as long as we play the basketball I know we can. The game will be next Wednesday.

AEK 0-1 Asteras Tripolis

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Euro Cup, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2015 by alexaek

Well that was disappointing… For a number of reason. First of all, we should have won that game. We were all over Asteras for much of the game, especially much of the first half. We were creating chances, we weren’t afraid to move the ball forward, we contained Asteras pretty well. But, as we all very well know by this point, we cannot finish plays. Sure, every now and then we have a good game, but we can’t let games against weak teams like Iraklis, PAS, and Platanias fool us. When you look at our results against teams like Xanthi, PAOK, Olympiakos, PAO, and Atromitos, it is clear that when times are tough for our players, we simply cannot score, even when we’re creating the chances. Our game over the weekend was just more proof of this. If you look at the highlights, our only scoring chances are from set plays or balls to Aravidis. Sure we create a lot, but we’re never going to score every set play, and we certainly cannot rely on only Aravidis to score goals…

The simple fact of the matter is that the players can talk all they want about changing the system at the club. Poyet can talk all he wants about changing the system. Anyone can make whatever changes they want to our system, but no change will fix the fact that we don’t have the players we need to score goals. Whoever had the bright idea this summer that we did not need to invest on some solid strikers and could instead rely on Aravidis and Djebbour has certainly been proven wrong, and it is costing us dearly. Already we have lost points in games where we could have won had we had some decent goal scorers. Our 0-0 with Xanthi, our 0-0 with PAO, our 2-1 loss to PAOK, these are all games where we could have potentially come away with an extra seven points compared to where we are now had we been able to score a goal or two…

Why else was this game disappointing? For those of you who haven’t yet seen what Vargas did, check it out in the highlights that I’ll post below. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one of our players do something so immature on the pitch… In fact, the last thing that I can think of was when Katidis did his nazi salute which he still says he didn’t understand… I get that he was angry, I get that theres a lot of adrenaline going, but could he really not control himself a little better than that? Maybe not, but I hope he learned from this because I think its safe to say that there was a good chance the game would not have ended in the way it did had he not been sent off the way he had been.

To be honest, I was afraid of Asteras before the match. They were coming off an impressive win against APOEL in the Europa League, and they are always a dangerous team. But we should still be able to take them comfortably, and we could have had we had a couple different players on the pitch and had a couple things gone our way which ultimately did not. Nobody was expecting us to win every derby in our first season back, but shouldn’t we at least be able to expect us to get points against teams like Asteras at home? And aside from the fact that we lost to Asteras at home, we are also now behind them AND Panionios in the standings. A third of the way into the championship so far and we’re already long since said goodbye to first and are quickly watching second place slip from our reach too. This is why we desperately need some more players come January, players who can make sure we get the job done against the smaller teams and end up in a decent position for the playoffs…

By the way, did anyone see Scocco’s goal from a couple days ago? Ah what I would give to have someone like him on the team again…

Match highlights:

Things may not be going too well for our football team, but they’re certainly going alright for our basketball team. After five wins out of five games in the league so far, we’re currently first with 10 points. Of course, we still have to face PAO, Olympiakos, and Aris, but its still a very promising start to the season regardless. We have a very strong team this year and with a few more additions we definitely have a chance of challenging Olympiakos and PAO come game day. In addition to our success in the league, we’re also in decent shape in the Euro League, having lost two and won two. Our first win was agonizingly close, and our second game was against Galatasaray, a Euro League caliber team who was always expected to win every match pretty easily. We’ve been very strong so far and have another game tomorrow against Neptunas of Lithuania. A win tomorrow would put us in a very good position for ensuring we make it to the next round, and I genuinely believe we have a good chance of making it happen.


Posted in AEK, Derby, football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by alexaek

A point from the first derby for our new coach is not a bad result at all, even if we could have come away from this game with all three points. Considering he has only had two practice sessions to get familiar with the players, he did a fairly decent job in my opinion, even if I personally would have liked to have seen a couple different changes. We were set up pretty well defensively but it was our midfield set up which allowed us to keep the game from getting out of our control. The pressure we applied throughout prevented PAO from ever getting really comfortable in the middle of the pitch both when attacking and defending, forcing them to attack from the wings quite often (something which they weren’t too good at today). When they did manage to get an attack to end up in the center of the pitch, they were only ever able to get an effort on goal via long shots, shots which very rarely threatened us except for one shot from Berg which hit the cross bar.

Offensively, we were able to get the ball to transition quite quickly, with Johansson, Simoes, Barbosa, and Galo doing well to move the ball around and control the centre and the wings. Unfortunately though, we were clearly lacking in the final third of the pitch, with Chrisantus not providing the attacking options that he should have and Vargas not being dangerous enough aside from a couple chances.

I’ll have a go at some of my own player ratings for today’s game. For once in as long as I can remember, I had a stream which did not skip or cut out once for the entire match so I was able to get a good sense of how we were playing.

Baroja: He was solid, positioning himself perfectly and making the saves he had to. Could not ask for any more from him really, did the job he had to and did it with confidence. Definitely something we were missing last year with Anestis.

Galo: Provided a lot of energy to the match, did well offensively and defensively. He did make some mistakes, but his pace meant he was often able to make up for them. He also came close on a free kick.

Lambropoulos and Kolovetsios: They were both pretty solid in the back, stopping PAO from getting too close to our net whenever they had the chance. They were decent on the set plays and generally managed to handle whatever PAO had to offer. Had this been a stronger PAO team, perhaps things would have different, though that would be impossible to tell. Either way, a solid centre back pair that Poyet should definitely consider sticking with.

Didac: Also did a pretty good job defensively and offensively. He didn’t have as much to work with defensively as PAO had fewer attacks come down our left wing, and he also did not provide the kind of runs that Galo would, but he still ventured forward and offered support whenever needed. He did make a few mistakes though.

Johansson: WIthout him, this may have been a very different game. I know I’ve said this before, but he is without a doubt one of the best singings we’ve made in the past three years. Always such a calm and assuring presence in the middle of the pitch, he is able to win balls well and hold on to them until the right pass can be made. He doesn’t stand out the way a player like Barbosa or Simoes does, but I would say his contribution to our performances is possibly more important than any other player on the pitch.

Simoes: He had a good game, though I’m not sure I would give him the 9 out of 10 that AEK365 gave him. He linked up well with the rest of our midfield and provided options and runs when needed.

Vargas: Had a phenomenal chance early on, but he seemed to be quiet for large periods of the game. In fact, I often saw Chrisantus coming back to link up with our central midfielders often when Vargas was nowhere to be found.

Mantalos: Had some very good runs and was key to any attack we had down the left, but unfortunately his crosses and set play deliveries were very poor today. What makes Mantalos such a critical player is the way he can get balls into dangerous places so well, and when he isn’t doing that as was the case today, the whole team suffers. I know he can do better, and I’m confident he will in our next game, assuming the injury he picked up today does not turn out to be too serious.

Barbosa: Probably the best attacking player for us today, showing a lot of ambition going forward. His effort was unfortunately more often than not wasted as we had no attacking presence in front of the PAO goal, but he was involved whenever he could have been and with a solid striker or two, he can end up being one of our most important players. Unfortunately, he was not linking up well with Chrisantus today.

Chrisantus: I’ve heard a lot of negativity towards Chrisantus, though I still have to say that I disagree. Is he my first choice for striker? Of course not, but with the way we played today, it hardly mattered what strikers we had up front. With so few good balls being played into the box, there was only so much he could do. It got to the point where he was playing deeper and deeper into midfield as the game progressed, looking to help create something up front. His presence in the box on set plays was not the best, but neither were the balls being played in so again I don’t feel like he is to blame. He will definitely need to calm down when he was possession though. Far too often he looks uncomfortable and nervous when he has the ball, and it was definitely a reason he was making so many poor passes. I truly believe that if he learns to calm down a bit when he’s playing, he can be a very effective player upfront.

Overall, neither team looked very dangerous. Overall PAO created the better chances, but there were spells when they were non-existent such as when they lost Lagos to injury early on. We had our chances to, but as with PAO none of the chances we created were very convincing. In fact, if it were not for PAO’s cross bar, I would say that both teams were equally dull offensively. As far as midfield is concerned, we were able to take control with far more confidence than PAO, but I would have to say that PAO overall played a better defensive game than we did, but only slightly.

It was an unfortunate result since a stronger AEK would have taken this game with ease. But the reverse could also be said about PAO. If they had the teams they had in the past, I would have to say that they would have walked all over us. Its unfortunate that both teams are so weak compared to what they used to be because if that were not the case, Olympiakos’ lead at the top of the table would have been far smaller at this point.

In terms of coaching, as I mentioned above I felt that Poyet had us set up quite well. Possibly the only thing I would have done differently (and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way) would have been to put Buonanotte in far earlier. I possibly also would have taken Mantalos out earlier and put Platellas on to replace him. Poyet’s decision to put Cordero one however was a very good one since it was a move that allowed us to keep our control of the midfield at a time when it was starting to slip away from us.

Surprisingly, I felt the ref had a pretty good game. It was a pretty high contact game but he made the right choices for the most part as far as calling fouls, and he stayed away from the cards when he was able to. It was quite refreshing actually to see a derby played where the ref wasn’t a key factor. The same can’t be said for Olympiakos’ game with Veria yesterday, but what else is new…

At the moment, the only highlights I can find are on NovaSport’s site here:

Xanthi 0-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by alexaek

A big win for AEK today, a win which was crucial to ensuring we progress to the next round of the cup. I was able to follow the commentary on and off throughout the match and it definitely sounded like an improvement over the last time we played in Xanthi.

I never expected this to be an easy match, and it doesn’t sound like it was at all. We managed to create a number of decent chances though and for periods of the match it sounded like we were in total control. Unfortunately though, our final few touches were lacking, quite the opposite of what we saw during the game over the weekend against Iraklis. I’m sure that this was at least partially due to the fact that Mantalos was missing from the starting XI, though the fact that we were still able to hold on for the win in a tough stadium without him is a relief. We were also missing Aravidis from the starting lineup, but thankfully Chrisantus managed to make it count when we needed it most. It wasn’t the most beautiful goal, but it was the kind of goal we need to score more of, the scrappy, loose ball kind of goal that Blanco was so good at finishing off. I’m very happy to see Chrisantus score again as the guy hasn’t stopped trying all season and judging from his reaction after scoring the goal, he was pretty happy too.

A big win for us, and hopefully a win that will help us build on the momentum we started over the weekend leading into the derby with PAO. Unfortunately though, today’s match was not the cleanest and there were a few injuries suffered, possibly the most worrying one being the injury Baroja picked up. He was able to play on which was a relief, but I’m hoping there won’t be some effects of the injury noticed later on as he has been crucial for us this season. In addition, I think Simoes may have also picked up a bit of an injury, hopefully we’ll learn some more about that later on.

In other AEK news, our basketball team won their first European game of the season, 87-70 against Nizhny Novgorod. Our performance in the 4th quarter was absolutely phenomenal, forcing wide open a match which had been rather close for the first three quarters. Things are still pretty tight in our group, and we were rather unlucky to not win the first game, so hopefully this win can finally turn things around. I never expected us to challenge for first place with Galatasaray being in our group, but I do think that we have a shot at second, or at least third place (neither of which will be bad performances considering this was our first European appearance in so many years).!report

AEK 5-1 Iraklis

Posted in AEK, Greek Cup, Manager, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by alexaek

Despite all the events of the past week, AEK managed to rebound in the best possible way. Not only did we manage to get the three points from the win, but we did it by playing some great football and scoring the most goals we’ve scored in one game for many years now.

I was somewhat nervous about the game for a few reasons. First of all, regardless of the fact that Iraklis also just came up from the second division, they are a team that can never be taken lightly. Plus, having just lost our coach, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction the players were going to have. I’m very happy to see they were able to respond positively since I feel that it shows that the team definitely has some character. To come back from a heavy loss to our rivals and having your coach resign two days later, to come back from all that and play some of the best football they’ve played yet this season shows that there is definitely something good to build on with this team.

I only managed to have a working stream for part of the second half so I unfortunately missed all of our goals as they happened. I was able to follow the commentary online and on the radio though, and while it certainly helped that Iraklis were clearly not having a great day, there was no doubt that our attacking play was quite good. We seemed to have a lot of players who all found their form at once such as Barbosa and Vargas, but the key to this game was Mantalos. He didn’t manage to score a goal himself (though he did come close on a nice shot from far out), but he was heavily involved in almost all of the goals we scored. The game showed us just how important a role he can play when he is fit and in form and while it gives me some relief knowing we can make and finish chances, I also feel like we have such a wasted opportunity. With a player like Mantalos, who is able to read and set up plays so well, its such a shame that we did not invest a little more in some solid strikers, people who could latch on to the balls he sends in and finish consistently.

I’m not too sure how we looked defensively, partly because Iraklis had so few opportunities to create anything dangerous in our own ends. Kolovetsios played instead of Tzanetopoulos for the game, so I’ll be interested to see if Manolas sticks with Kolovetsios for the cup game this week as well.

Our next two games are a cup game away to Xanthi, and PAO away. Two tough games, but I’m actually confident we can get anywhere from four to six points of the two games. Xanthi will be tough but I feel like something special clicked last game and I certainly hope we can carry the momentum through to that game too. We’ve already played Xanthi away this season and while we didn’t end up scoring, we weren’t exactly outplayed either. With Mantalos on form, I’m sure we can get the win.

I’m without a doubt worried about the PAO game away, but PAO lost 3-1 today to PAOK, and derbies can always go either way. PAO’s form is nothing exceptional, and I actually don’t think they have a particularly great team this season. They’ll have  the advantage of playing at home, and they definitely have a few solid players, but I think if we play well then we can definitely compete pretty evenly with them.

For those who haven’t been following the news lately regarding our coaching situation, we are supposedly pretty close to signing Gus Poyet as our next manager. I’m not entirely familiar with him, but I know he has some experience in the Premier League which can’t be a bad thing. I know some people were hoping for a manager with more experience, but perhaps having someone younger with some Premier League experience might benefit us more in the end, especially as far as attracting new players is concerned. I’m hoping something will be wrapped up in the next few days, but on the other hand I like what Manolas did for our game against Iraklis (even though it was quite similar to the team Dellas was fielding) so I wouldn’t mind seeing him continue until just past the PAO game. I’m a bit worried that having a new coach come in now before such important games might affect the players a bit.


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