AEK 4-0 Iraklis

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

A convincing 4-0 win today for us in what was our last friendly before the start of the season. The match got off to a pretty slow start with little noteworthy action in the first half but that all changed when we scored 4 goals between the 49th and 71st minute.

I only managed to catch the last ten minutes of the match but from what I could see, it looks like we might be in for some good performances from Patito. Its still early but I’m already starting to see some similarities with Scocco (and I’m not the only one who has been seeing this). Hes the kind of player we’ve been lacking recently, especially after Buonannotte never managed to settle into the team.

Almeida is also starting to impress people, especially after scoring two goals in two friendlies (he also scored in our 2-1 friendly win against Trikala during the week). If his form keeps up, then I think we might just have one of the most effective offenses in the league. Afterall, we still have Aravidis, Pekhart, and Bakasetas as well up front with Patitio, Barbosa, Mantalos, and Vargas providing support behind them. There really aren’t many offenses in the league that I can think of which could compete with that.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a good quality highlight video from the game, so these recordings from someone’s screen will have to do for now.

Almeida’s great header for the 1st goal:

The 2-0 from Mantalos:

Beautifully taken header from Pekhart for 3-0:

4-0 from Bakasetas:

AEK 0-1 Saint Etienne

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League with tags , , , on August 4, 2016 by alexaek

I really thought we had a chance of winning this one, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. The team deserves credit first and foremost though; we went into this game as clear underdogs, if only because of our lack of European football in recent years. After the two games though, its clear that neither team really stood out as significantly better than the other as it was only one lucky goal which made the difference.

We didn’t have luck on our side for this match ever since the news broke out that Johansson might be missing the game. Late last night I read that the outlook for him had become more positive and there was hope he might just manage to be match fit for the game but in the end he wasn’t, and we suffered greatly without him on the pitch. To be honest, I don’t think Ketsbaia handled his absence and you’ll probably find most people saying the same thing. To try and fill the massive void left by Johansson, Ketsbaia started with Lambropoulos in the middle along aside Simoes. This clearly turned out to be a rather poor choice as the gap in midfield was a big part of why we struggled to get a rhythm going. I know many people have been saying that Tzanetopoulos should have started in Lambropoulos’ place but I’m not so sure we would have been any better off. I know Tzanetopoulos has played that position a couple times before, but that was against far easier opposition. It was just as big a risk with both players and considering Lambropoulos looked alright in pre-season friendlies, I can’t blame Ketsbaia too much for his choice.

Its unfortunate that we had to bow out of Europe so early on, especially when we had such a good chance of going through just before the game started. Dwelling on the past and thinking about what could have been can only get us so far though so I think its worth looking at some of the positives for the game. Though I only managed to catch bits of it, one player who absolutely stood out for me (again) was Chygrynskiy. He has been proving himself lately and today was no exception. I went to watch Roma play a friendly yesterday against Montreal and watching Chygrynskiy after watching Roma less than 24 hours ago really made me feel as if I was watching De Rossi again. I know De Rossi and Chygrynskiy play two different positions but the way they both handle things on the pitch, in a calm and no-nonsense kind of way, really stood out to me.

The other biggest positive I can take from the game is, yet again, our supporters. Considering the match was on a weekday and in the peak of the summer holiday season, it was a pretty respectable sized crowd. What made me even happier to hear though was how the team was applauded at the end of the match. At the end of the day, the team is still building and transitioning from the turmoil of the past four years and it makes me happy to see that now, when the team needs it most, our supporters are still for them. We might not have the strongest AEK we’ve seen in years, but we definitely have a decent team that can beat any other team in the league on a good day. Combine that with solid support throughout the season and I think we could be in for some great games.

Highlights from today:

And for anyone who hasn’t seen the match in France yet, you can catch it in its entirety here:

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:

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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.

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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).

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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..

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