Busy Day for AEK

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on January 18, 2017 by alexaek

Bad news first…

We played a league game today against Panaitolikos on a pitch that resembled a swamp more than anything else. How we were allowed to play on that pitch when the ball barely rolled at all is beyond me, but the game went ahead regardless.

The final result? A 3-2 loss. Surprised? I’m not. Its embarrassing that its gotten to the point where I half expect us to lose. And not without reason either. We haven’t won an away game since the 10th of October, when we beat Larissa 2-1. We haven’t even won a home game since the 10th of December, more than a month ago…

I didn’t watch the match and I’m not exactly upset that I didn’t. From what I read it sounded as though Barkas made some tragic mistakes after playing the game of his life on Sunday. Some other things worth noting from the game include the fact that Almeida finally scored again and that two of the goals scored for Panaitolikos were scored by our former player, Grigoris Makos.

What was probably more noteworthy from the game was what happened afterwards, when Morais announced at his press conference that he was leaving the team. Thats right, another coach gone.

His departure was quickly confirmed by the club a little while after, around the same time that rumours began circulating that Manolo Jimenez was ready to take over. Jimenez is, of course, the same coach who was in charge when we won the Cup a few years ago.

How do I feel about all of this? Well of course it isn’t confirmed, but at this point I’m kind of indifferent. I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t expect much from the club this year so if Jimenez is the guy who can miraculously turn things around, great. If not, I’m sure things can’t be any worse than they are now.

Time for some good news.

We played against Partizan for the final match of the Basketball Champions League group stages today. Our qualification to the next round was guaranteed before the match started, but a win against Partizan would have cemented 2nd place for us. Key three pointers by players such as Ukic (yet again) ensured that we left Belgrade with the win and 2nd place clinched. 69-65 was the final score which meant that though we had a similar record to a few other clubs in the group, we clinched second due to a better record among those teams tied for second.

What happens from this point on all depends on who we face in the next rounds, meaning clinching 2nd was all the more important as it allows us to face an easier opponent. I’m not sure yet who we might possibly face but I would say that aside from a few teams, there isn’t anybody who we couldn’t be competitive against. I can’t say how far we’ll make it in the tournament, but I feel pretty good about our chances of at least making it to one more round. From then on, who knows. All I know is that after all this time, it feels great to see an AEK basketball team that is competitive in Europe once again.

Derby Weekend Disappoints

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by alexaek

Stalemate in the Athens Derby

Going into the match against PAO this weekend, I was kind of expecting a draw. Both teams haven’t been having a great season and ultimately its safe to say that the squads for either team have proven to be equally disappointing this season.

I’ll take the 0-0 draw because to be honest, I would not have been surprised if we found a way to lose this one. Its unfortunate though that we didn’t come away with more since, from what I read, we had quite a few chances during the first half. In fact it sounded as though we controlled much of the game until closer towards the end so its too bad that we couldn’t have snatched a goal and maybe lifted the spirits of our players a bit. On the other hand though, Barkas did make some incredible saves to deny PAO a few goals, so it does seem like it evens out in the end.

A couple things worth noting:

-Terrible offsides called against both sides

-Terrible defense from both sides

-Amazing goaltending from both sides (though special mention for Barkas, as some of those saves were outstanding)

I don’t have too much to say about the game, I was on a train in the middle of New York and the wifi was nonexistent (though I expected this going into the ride). Ultimately the game was what I expected it would be, and one of those “derbies”that are better off being forgotten.

I do miss the days of derbies like this one:

 

More Disappointment in Thessaloniki

Our basketball team had one of its most important games of the season this past Saturday as they took on Aris in Thessaloniki for a chance to make it to the Cup final. The last time we played in a Cup Final? April of 2001, when we beat PAO 66-64.

The game this weekend was far more entertaining than the football match back in Athens but in the end, we were painfully eliminated when Aris won the game with two seconds left on the clock. It was a far closer game than when we last played Aris and beat them comfortably, but its safe to say that both sides were expecting a close match. 77-76 was the final score, meaning Aris will now go on to face PAO in the final.

Tripolis 3-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , on January 9, 2017 by alexaek

At least we managed to score this time..

Sadly though, and as I feared, we didn’t even manage to come away with a point. To be fair to the team, the pitch had a noticeable layer of snow throughout and from what I read during the game, the players struggled at times to get the ball to move well.

Something worth noting from the match was that Ognen Vranjes, our recently signed Bosnian centreback, received a red card during the game (his first appearance for us). Its also worth noting that Pekhart scored both our goals, further cementing his role as our primary goal scorer now that Aravidis seems to be out of the team’s plans and Almeida is still struggling to find the form from his first match of the season. With Pekhart’s two goals over the weekend, he has now scored six of our last ten goals scored.

The result certainly doesn’t help Morais if he wants to remain a part of the team. I’m not saying I believe we need a new coach right away, since I think a lot of the blame falls on the players as well. However, it definitely feels like something isn’t right. I read articles about how the atmosphere within the team isn’t at its best and when I see people like Johansson struggle to seem at all comfortable on the pitch, I start to wonder myself whether we might need to change things up yet again.

Normally I don’t like seeing us change managers as soon as things start to go bad, but at this point I’m starting to feel like it can’t really hurt. We’re currently sixth in the league and show no sign of improving. I’m starting to wonder what the worst that could happen is at this point. Do we change managers and drop more points? Its not like we have much to lose. The teams above us all seem to be finding it easier to get points and the teams behind us are right on our tails with the possibility of overcoming us with just one win.

 

Better result for our basketball team

It might not have been a great weekend for our football team, but our basketball team managed to get the result they were looking for in Athens over the weekend, beating Aris 81-61. An extremely important win considering only two points currently separate us and Aris, and a great momentum builder going into one of our final Champions League group stage games tomorrow.

 

Cup game cancelled

Our cup game against Levadeiakos, scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed due to the weather. Snow and cold has been affecting much of Greece for the past few days, with even a number of islands being affected by considerable snowfall. At the moment I’m not quite sure when the game will be played, but I will try and post here when I find out.

 

AEK 0-0 Panaitolikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Greek Super League with tags , on January 4, 2017 by alexaek

Is one goal too much to ask for?

If one were to look at only the statistics today and ignore the score, they might have a rather different impression of the game. After all, you would expect a team with 71% possession and 19 goal attempts (with 11 on target), to manage to score a goal or two.

So what can be going so wrong for us now that we’re at the point where we can create 19 goal attempts but not even get one in the back of the net? To be fair, Panaitolikos played a very stubborn game defensively. They clearly came into this game planning on defending and hoping for a counter attack or two. Every man was behind the ball and their box was crowded, to the point where even getting a shot through all the traffic was nearly impossible.

It also didn’t help that Kyriakidis, Panaitolikos’ keeper, seemed especially determined to not let anything in. Any chance that was within reach was stopped by him and it became more and more evident as the game wore on that it would take something special to beat him.

Still, despite the resilient defending by Panaitolikos and Kyriakidis’ amazing performance in goal, a team like AEK, a team that might one day hope to challenge for the title, should be able to score when they manage to control so much of the game. Having said that, we are clearly not there yet and until we stop signing mediocre players, we’ll be stuck at our current for a while still. Watching today’s game, it was clear that no player was able to rise to the occasions and single handedly make the difference when it was needed. Now, I’m not saying we need to play more individually and less as a team, but we need someone who can make the difference when needed, someone who can spark some life into the game, someone like Scocco (or, at this point, even Rivaldo). Either that or we need a team that is able to play so well together that it gets to the point where they go into almost every match as clear favourites (I’m thinking of teams like our 2007 roster, with players like Sokratis, Dellas, Zikos, Kafes, and Liberopoulos all playing so well as a team).

At this point, we have a team that doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing. We managed to control possession well today and the ball was moving around nicely. There were a few things though which especially frustrated me today. Up front, we had no shape, no plan, nothing. Panaitolikos were fine with sitting men in the box and creating traffic which is understandable. We as a team need to be able to adjust to that but there were no adjustments being made at all. Our attackers were rarely venturing out of their zones and offering support, they rarely made any runs, and they lacked the creativity that was needed to break open the defense.

I was also frustrated by the lack of support after a pass was made. So many times a player would make a pass and then just stand there, as if they did not know where to go next. Obviously we were going to be easy to defend against when play so statically, not providing any moving parts for the Panaitolikos defense to keep track of. It also didn’t help that our plays were so predictable. Most of the time the ball ended up at Galo’s feet as he tried to carry it down the line before sending in a cross or, if the play wasn’t started by him, we would hopefully pass the ball around the edge of the box before letting a shot go which more often than not would be blocked by the wall of bodies created by Panaitolikos. It was frustrating to see the team struggle so desperately to find a way through.

Tough match this weekend

To make matters worse for us, we play away against Tripolis this weekend. If we play like we did today, I can’t see this being an easy game for us, especially since playing in Tripolis is never a walk in the park for any Superleague team. A win is desperately needed at this point because the teams beneath us are quickly catching up. I know its still early but at this point I’m starting to wonder whether we can even hold on to a playoff spot…

Catching Up…

Posted in Greek Cup, AEK Players, Greek Football, AEK, AEK Athens FC with tags , , , on December 20, 2016 by alexaek

Its been a while since my last post (over a month at this point), mostly due to the final couple months of school taking up a lot of my time. Now that all of that is behind me, I figured it was time for a quick post going over what I’ve missed.

Disappointing League Results

Things have been less than ideal in the league over the past month and a half. We’ve had four league games since my last post and while they were all against what should in theory be weaker teams, only two out of those four games actually ended in wins. The first win was a 3-0 home victory over Platanias and we also got a comfortable 4-0 home win over Levadeiakos. Both those results were followed by draws against Kerkyra and, just yesterday, a home draw against PAS Giannena. Now I know nothing ever comes easy but had we won those two games we drew, we would have been sitting in 2nd with 24 points and a far smaller gap between us and Olympiakos. Instead, we find ourselves 5th with 20 points, behind Xanthi, PAO, and Panionios.

Yesterday’s result was one of those results that are that much harder to swallow. It was a strange game from the start really, with Aravidis being sent off on a straight red with a Zidane imitation headbutt. Surprisingly though we played pretty well considering we were a man down and then got gifted one of the easiest goals Pekhart will ever have to score. To top the whole game off though, we conceded an extra time goal which was clearly offside. Not the result we deserved, especially considering it sounded like the team looked really promising even when playing a man down, but I’ve come to expect this sort of thing from this league.

To make matters worse, Mantalos also missed a penalty yesterday…

 

Disappointing Cup Results As well..

After our 4-0 Cup win against Kerkyra, we ended up with some pretty disappointing results after drawing Karditsa 2-2 and Lamia 0-0. Safe to say we should have done better, especially against Karditsa when we were ahead 2-0 before letting them back into the game. Thankfully the results were still enough to get us through to the next round where we’ll face Levadeiakos, but I’ll definitely be hoping for some better results from this point on. Since it seems as though we’re already out of the title race, it would be nice if we can make a decent attempt for the Cup again this year.

 

 

PAOK 71-78 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby, PAOK with tags , , , on November 12, 2016 by alexaek

An extremely important win for AEK in the league today, one which saw us struggle but ultimately show the character needed to come away from Thessaloniki with the win. Seeing as we had yet to play a derby until today, this match was one of our first major tests and though it wasn’t always smooth sailing for us, the team did well to do what was needed to keep our perfect start to the season.

Dixon was one of the standout players for us with 22 points including a crucial 3 pointer towards the end of the match to seal the win for us. Ukic also, unsurprisingly, had a great game with 16 points to his name. We trailed for most of the match and despite closing the score down a few times, it wasn’t until the 3rd period where we were finally able to go in front after a 12 point run. PAOK managed to keep the score close from that point on but we never relinquished our lead and managed to hold on despite a nervous final few minutes.

It must be said that despite the win, today’s performance was not among our best this season. To be fair, playing against PAOK up north is never easy and Vaseiliadis, a lifelong PAOK supporter who has never played against them at home, was clearly struggling.

Highlights can be seen here: http://aek365.novasports.gr

Well That Was Painful…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2016 by alexaek

AEK 2-2 Atromitos

So far this season we have played four games at home for the league. These games were against respectable but seemingly beatable opposition: Xanthi, Iraklis, Panionios, and Atromitos. Aside from the first game, when we beat Xanthi 4-1, what do the last three home games have in common? They all ended in draws..

While a draw at home against a weaker team is never easy to swallow, today’s draw was really something else all together. I didn’t watch it (thankfully?), but the game got off to a phenomenal start with Mantalos scoring early. We played well from that point on and though Atromitos had some chances, it was finally looking as though the team was finding some confidence. We were rewarded for playing so well when Patito added a second for AEK with a beautifully placed shot that left the keeper with no chance.

At this point I was pretty happy. It sounded like we were playing well, we were so close to grabbing a crucial three points, and it started to look as though we might have just found some good form heading into our derby with PAO two weekends from now… Ah but this AEK were talking about after all. If this team has been consistent with one thing all season, its the fact that we so often find a way to make things more difficult for ourselves.

At around the 72nd minute I looked at my phone to check the score and I see that Atromitos had scored to make it 2-1. I wasn’t worried at this point, although I realize now that was a mistake. A few minutes later I check again expecting to see the same score, or even possibly 3-1 for AEK but instead I see 2-2. Surely I think to myself “we couldn’t possibly have let a 2-0 lead vanish at home?” but then I read AEK365’s description of the second goal and it all makes sense. Yep, another completely avoidable error by Anestis.

Coming into this season I had no problem with us keeping Anestis as our starting keeper. Sure he made some very costly errors the years before but he had finally started to show some maturity with his playing. I felt as though he might have been learning from his mistakes, improving his decision making, that sort of thing. Then Atromitos’ second goal today makes me have to question all of that. The goal he let in simply should not ever have happened. Not in a friendly, not in a Cup game where we were winning by a few goals, and certainly not in a league game where we have a fragile one goal lead and desperately need all the points we can get.

All in all I really don’t know what to feel about this game. Its a terrible result, but we did play quite well for 70 minutes. If Anestis never lets in that second goal and we finish the game with a 2-1 win, there would be a very different mood among the team and the supporters back in Greece. Instead, we now go into an extremely difficult derby with the fans doubting the team and perhaps the team doubting itself.

It has to be said that Anestis does not deserve all the blame (well, maybe he does). Afterall all the hype that surrounded Almeida after the first goal this season, what exactly has he done to contribute to the team this season? I want to see him succeed as much as anyone, but it sounded like he missed goals today that he really should not be missing. He is not a cheap player to keep on the team and I can’t help but feel as though perhaps there might be some young Greek talent out there that we could have on the team in his place at times. Experience helps, but it can only go so far when it isn’t actually contributing to results on the pitch.

Well, thats my “rant” for the day. It didn’t help that the hockey game I was at today saw the home team I was rooting for (the Ottawa 67s) go up 2-0 only to lose the game… 2-5. Thankfully the score for AEK’s game today didn’t quite end the same way, but seeing a 2-0 lead quickly diminish in front of my eyes while the same thing was happening with AEK in Athens was not exactly how I was hoping to spend my saturday…

Highlights, as usual, on the Novasports site (worth watching for Patito’s goal… and the Anestis blunder if you want something to make you chuckle). http://aek365.novasports.gr

At Least Our Basketball Team is Still Doing Well

What would I do if the basketball team was in the same shape our football club is. Its never easy being an AEK supporter, but its nice knowing that the basketball team can go into almost any match and expect to be competitive.

Today’s match, which ended in a 80-62 win over Rethymno was our fifth win from five games so far this season. It was another crucial win and one which puts us in first, for now at least, with 10 points. Next weekend is a huge one for us as take on PAOK up in Thessaloniki. It won’t be easy, but I’m confident we can, if anything, give PAOK a run for their money. A win in Thessaloniki would go a long way in confirming that we are on the right track.