Saint Etienne 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League with tags , , , on July 28, 2016 by alexaek

December 14th, 2011: AEK beat Sturm Graz in what would be our last European match in almost five years. Well, we are finally back where we belong! I know we’ll never be a European power house, but its safe to say that we deserve to at least have a presence on the European stage. The atmosphere our supporters create, some of the big teams we’ve managed to beat, it all goes to show that AEK are a worthwhile club to feature in a European competition and after today, we are that much closer to finally being back in the group stages.

Theres still a lot of work to be done but after today, I think I can take a deep breath and relax a bit. The tie is far from over but to head to OAKA on equal footing gives me a lot of reason to be cautiously optimistic. Of course the away goal would have made things that much easier for us too but what makes me happier than the result was the performance the team put in.

We were solid defensively, both on set plays but also when the ball was moving. Most of the chances Saint Etienne managed to muster were far shots which Anestis was able to deal with quite comfortably. When Saint Etienne did manage to get a ball in the box, Chygyrinsky was always there to make sure nothing happened. We were also able to count on Kolovetsios when needed and both Galo and Didac did a great job of getting the ball up the wings.

We held our ground nicely in the midfield too as Simoes and Johansson did all they could to stamp their authority on the match. In fact, pretty much from our net up to midfield was almost always in our control and when Saint Etienne did manage to get forward, we never looked too shaky at all. I have to give a lot of credit to Ketsbaia here for this. During our friendlies we looked okay but it was hard to tell how the team would handle under pressure since we never faced any particularly strong opposition. Today proved though that we’re on the right track and players are starting to understand both each other, and the playing style Ketsbaia wants to see from them.

The only disappointing aspect of our play would have to be our offense. We did manage to create some chances, but our finishing was still letting us down. Having said that, scoring many goals was never the main priority today compared to holding Saint Etienne at bay (which we successfully did), so I’m not too worried. I’m sure we’ll see a much more spirited attack on the return match in front of our supporters.

All said and done it was a very promising return to Europe. Considering we had a few new players on the pitch today as well as a new coach with a very different approach from what we were used to, it has to be said that the team did well for not only their first competitive match of the season, but also the first European game in so long. There would undoubtedly have been some pressure on our players, not least of all because we were playing one of the favourites of the 3rd qualifying round, but they showed little sign of it. In fact, I’d say going into the next game that both teams are 50/50 now with no clear favourite between the two.

 

As usual, a great display from our supporters on the European stage. Hopefully we’ll see plenty more scenes like these:

f5d7651006edd426f3d079daa6191cc9_471678

67f873643da356e472ec165318b3e394_471678

Patito Rodriguez Signs for AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Singings with tags , , on July 24, 2016 by alexaek

We made a sign earlier this week, scooping up talented Argentinian forward Patito Rodriguez. He’s 26 which is a pretty decent age plus he’s add some big team experience in South America, playing for teams such as Santos and Independiente. He may not be the biggest name, but neither were players like Scocco and Blanco before we signed them. He hasn’t really had much time yet with the team so I’m not sure if he’ll be ready for the games against Saint Etienne (same goes for Almeida) but I’m hoping he can find some form with us. If he does manage to find some form wearing AEK’s shirt, we could potentially have another Scocco-like player wreaking havoc among other Greek teams.

On the other hand, we could have another player like Buonanotte, someone who clearly has plenty of skill but struggles to find his place in the team. Hes another risky player but one who could certainly pay off.

4e8a00fce5df0632dcc6c0923d4ac28d_470388

Picture from AEK365.com

AEK Sign Hugo Almeida

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Singings with tags , on July 18, 2016 by alexaek

AEK have made a pretty big statement (and taken a big risk) with their seemingly out of the blue signing of Hugo Almeida. We’ve shown interest in him in the past, but I woke up this morning to find that not only we’re we showing interest in the Portuguese forward, but that he was actually already in Athens.

He wasn’t exactly cheap for us. I believe something like 1 million euros for two years, which is a fair amount of money to be spending on a 32 year old player. Considering his age, and the fact that he hasn’t been in the greatest form lately, the move is definitely a risk but to be honest, I’m glad to at least see us taking a risk and going out on a limb. I know more often than not these types of signings do little more than attract a few more season tickets, but every now and then they make the kind of impact we all hope for.

Its far too early to tell what kind of impact he’ll have, but we definitely need more presence up front and someone who knows how to finish so if Almeida can find some form with us, the impact he could have on the team could potentially be huge. I was happy to see him get straight into training after signing today, especially if it means we get the chance to see him in action in our friendly this wednesday (against Aris Limassol).

e210272d8f7a78e54952dc2f566f9c77_469938

a10a2cb5cbdda08c566199a0ba2a1a4c_469938

Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll see him score a goal like this against Olympiakos:

AEK 3-0 MKP Pogon (Plus the Europa League draw)

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League with tags , , , , on July 15, 2016 by alexaek

We played our final pre-season friendly in Poland against 2nd division side MKP Pogon. First half didn’t show all that much life though it sounded like we at least created a few more chances than we did in the previous game. Second half of the game however saw a much improved AEK that was eager to attack and it paid off when we scored three goals. Platellas scored the first, Bakakis (his first goal with AEK) the second, and an own goal for the third.

Since the game yesterday the team has returned to Athens for a short break before they get back to work. They’ll certainly need to work hard after learning that our first opponent for Europa League will be Saint Etienne. Of all the teams that we could have been drawn against, Saint Etienne were one of the teams I was really hoping we would avoid.

I’ve been browsing some Saint Etienne forums and their supporters seem as worried about playing AEK as I am about us playing them which I was surprised to see. It won’t be easy at all, I can say that much. But I also feel that its definitely not impossible. We seem to have a decent defense so far so if we can hold off for a draw in France, we could definitely sneak a win in Athens and progression to the next round.

Something that gives me hope is the fact that Marseille is relatively close to Saint Etienne. I’m definitely expecting some Marseille supporters to lend a hand in the stands with our own supporters.

AEK 1-0 Wigry Suwalki

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , on July 13, 2016 by alexaek

So we played our third friendly of the pre-season and managed to come away with yet another win, and another clean sheet. I didn’t get to watch the match though I did take a peak at the commentary at work and it didn’t sound like the most exciting of games. We had a few half chances but there was very little to be happy about from the sounds of things. Its not that we played poorly, but we just didn’t manage to settle into any rhythm and we didn’t seem to pressure nearly as much as would have been expected.

Our scorer was yet again Lambropoulos and if there is one thing to take away from these past few games, its the fact that we seem pretty strong and organized on set pieces. Great to hear, but I’m curious to see how well we’ll do on set pieces against stronger teams..

AEK 2-0 Korona Kielce

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , , on July 9, 2016 by alexaek

Second pre-season friendly and a second win for AEK. I managed to watch the game this time but to be honest, what I saw from the team was very mediocre. We weren’t bad by any means, but we certainly weren’t anything special either.

Anestis and Barkas both did well when they were forced to make any saves, though that wasn’t all that often to be honest. We were also pretty decent defensively and I was personally quite pleased with Chygrynskiy (someday I’ll remember how to spell his name without looking it up first…) since he seemed like the kind collected and no nonsense centre back we’ve desperately needed for a while now. Didac and Galo were both pretty good on the wings too but really, we didn’t have to defend all that much since Korona struggled to make it near our box more often than not.

Going forward we showed some great signs with a number of smart plays and some great passing but what really let us down most times we launched any sort of attack was our final balls in. On a number of occasions we found ourselves with a player making a good run forward only to see the final pass overshot. I know this mostly comes down to technique which will be polished over time but it was disappointing to see so many heavy touches.

Our two goals, both of which were scored in the second half, were scored by Mantalos and Aravidis after runs down the left flank and a low ball in. I’m happy to see both Mantalos and Aravidis scoring, but hopefully Bakasetas starts getting more action too. He hasn’t been bad by any means but he has struggled to get himself involved in games up till now. Its expected since its a new team and theres a lot of pressure on his shoulders so I’m sure within the next game or two we’ll start to see him get far more involved.

 

I’d just like to point out our supporters from the game today, who you can see in the highlights above. Though we only had a small handful in the stands today who were probably outnumbered ten to one, the AEK fans there did an amazing job of being the only ones heard on TV the entire time. Makes me smile every time.

In some other news, we’v made our fourth signing of the season by singing Juan Manuel Diaz. He may not be the biggest name we could have signed but he has some decent experience from South America so hopefully he can provide us with some decent options.

b8c16a5a932dff04414917bf0657eefa_468097

Photo from AEK365.com

 

 

 

Catching Up…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2016 by alexaek

I was away from my computer for a good week or so last week so I haven’t really had the chance to post anything. But, I’m finally back and have a bit of catching up to do, so I’ll start with the older news first and make my way to today.

First thing that I should mention is that we officially signed Bakasetas, on his birthday of all days. Really good move for us in my opinion, he is coming off of a great season and has said numerous times that he has loved AEK since he was a child. Hopefully form and passion for the team combine into something really special this season but only time will tell whether he’ll end up being a star for us or just another hyped up Greek attacker who ultimately did very little. I’m feeling like we’re a little overdue for a good Greek attacker, someone who can make all the difference for us, and I have a feeling Bakasetas can be the guy for the job.

Pretty much right after we signed Bakasetas, the team left for the pre-season training camp in Poland. I’ve been watching some videos from the drills the team has been running through and we look pretty good, though running through drills in a practice session is obviously a different story from how we’ll actually be able to apply it all in a game. Which brings me to the next piece of news that I wanted to mention: our friendly today against Banik Ostrava. We won the game 1-0 and while the score may not seem all that impressive, the commentator I was following was more than impressed with how well AEK was pressuring throughout the pitch. Our only goal of the game came from Labropoulos of all people, but Aravidis, Mantalos, and Vargas all had chances to score as well.

All of our three singings so far featured for a half today. Chygrynskiy seemed to be fairly impressive but it didn’t seem like Barkas and Bakasetas had the chance to make much of an impression since they never really managed to get involved all that much. All in all it seems like there were some promising things to take from the game but I’ll be curious to see how we play a few games from now when the team has finally had the chance to gel. Afterall there is only so much we can take from these games since it seems like we still intend to sign at least another three players (I would hope so).

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.