AEK 3-1 PAS Giannena

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by alexaek

Our strong start to 2018 continued with another win, this time against 11th placed PAS Giannena. Overall it was a fairly decent game, but Giannena did manage to tie the match at 1-1 for a while which resulted in some uncertainty. Ultimately though, despite the generally slow pace to the match, our finishing was critical enough when we needed it to be.

Our scorers were, unsurprisingly, Livaja with the opener and Araujo with the 2nd and 3rd goals. Araujo’s goals today mean he has now scored 5 goals in the last 5 games while Livaja has also scored 4 goals in the last 6 games. Pretty decent numbers overall and despite Araujo getting off to a slow start for us this season, its safe to say that he has earned his spot in the roster yet again.

The commentators mentioned today that the match had a generally slow pace and I would have to agree. That’s not to say we played poorly, because we did have some chances, but overall it seemed like we were lacking some urgency at times. Thankfully, that changed a bit when we conceeded and the Giannena red card also seemed to serve as motivation for the team, but for a while I was nervous about whether we would actually regain the lead.

One thing worth pointing out about today’s match was that our defense was definitely the weakest link in the team today. It was a poor clearance which led to Giannena’s goal, and there were a number of occasions where other poor clearances took place which luckily didn’t result in more goals against us. We struggled to deal with routine balls a few times and if it was another team we were playing against, we may not have been so lucky.

In any case, its another huge 3 points as the top of the table is still extremely tight. Olympiakos play tomorrow and assuming they win, we’ll be tied for second with PAOK, just one point behind first place.

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Panetolikos 1-4 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2018 by alexaek

Well its certainly nice to be back! Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, and getting back to work and the daily routine that comes with it wasn’t all that exciting but hey, if theres one good thing to take from this time of year, its the fact that we get to watch AEK again!

This year especially is an exciting time since for the first time in as long as I can remember, we start a new year with a legitimate chance at a Championship. Its still far too early to make any guesses as to what might happen come the end of this season, but our game yesterday against Panetolikos was certainly an indication that this team means business.

Now its worth pointing out that despite the fact that we comfortably outscored Panetolikos, it wasn’t always an easy match. They certainly came close a few times but some brilliant goal keeping from Tsintotas kept us in the match. Having said that, our performance offensively was really enjoyable to watch. We saw some great ball movement, brilliant finishing, and it seemed clear to me that not only were the players well rested, but they seemed confident in what their approach to the match should be.

Our first goal came from Bakasetas, a long range effort off of a free kick. It was a beautifully struck shot that had just the right mix of power and dip. Our second goal came from the penalty spot after Lazaros tucked his penalty shot in the lower corner of the net. The penalty was won by Bakasetas after he was taken down in the box. I don’t think there was any doubt that it was a penalty after watching the replays.

Our third goal was the result of some composure on the part of Araujo, who did well to put the ball in the back of the net after a great effort by Bakasetas. Starting to see a theme here? Three of our four goals were either scored by Bakasetas, a result of a penalty he drew, or directly from an assist of his. AEK365 were justified in giving him a 10 out of 10 rating as it was quite easily his best match with AEK in my opinion. His assist on the third goal is worth watching multiple times as it really is quite brilliant. In fact, everything about that goal from the build up to the finish was beautiful to watch.

Our fourth goal was also quite a special one to watch. Not only was the one time football leading up the goal played out perfectly, but the goal itself was scored by the substitute Lopes who had come on less than a minute earlier.

Great stuff overall and though our defense did slip a bit at times, I couldn’t ask for a better start to the new year.

Over the holidays, we made two singings that could help provide some depth to the squad. One of the singings is Erik Moran, the Spanish defensive midfielder we bought from Spanish side Leganes. In addition to that, we also acquired Masoud Shojaei from Panionios, an Iranian midfielder who has played many years of his career in Spain, as well as with the Iranian national team. He had a good season and a half with Panionios and I was personally quite happy to see the singing go through.

Moran didn’t feature in yesterday’s game, but Masoud did. He came on in the 52nd minute and though he had less than half a game to make an impression, he certainly seems to be off to a good start with the club. He played a huge role in our fourth goal and generally showed some composure along with some great ball distribution. Its still a little early to say for sure but I think he could fit in very well with this team.

 

Back To Winning Ways

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2017 by alexaek

After a less than ideal weekend, our football and basketball teams got back to winning ways in the Cup and Champions League respectively. For our football side, it was a 4-0 away win against Panaitolikos that all but secures us a place in the next round courtesy of goals from Lazaros, Bakasetas, Galo, and Giakoumakis.

A win for AEK was always going to be the more likely result, but it was nice to also see the team get back to goal scoring ways after they struggled so much over the weekend against Apollon. It was a pretty strong lineup that Jimenez fielded today with only Galanopoulos being the non-regular. Otherwise it was a lineup similar to what we’ve been used to seeing this season which I didn’t mind considering the team will have a couple weeks to rest before they return after the break. One noticeable player missing was Simoes, who was recently diagnosed with an injury that should keep him sidelined for about 3-4 weeks.

All in all a good result which should give us a chance to rest some key players when the next match takes place in early January. I’m reading up on the match and watching the recording as I write this, but from what I’m seeing it looks like we were clearly the stronger side and generally played some fairly attractive football. That’s a relief to see considering how poor we looked over the weekend. Its promising to see that the team was able to turn things around quickly and not dwell on what happened last weekend for too long, and its also nice to see Barkas get the cleansheet. Considering we don’t really know what will happen with regards to Anestis’ contract, we’ll need all the goaltending we can get from Barkas and Tsintotas.

 

It wasn’t only our football club in action today as we also had a basketball game against Venezia for the Champions League. I had mixed feelings going into this game about whether we’d pull off a result considering we managed to beat them in Italy, but we also didn’t look too great against PAOK over the weekend. Luckily, our basketball team was also able to put their disappointing result behind them and come away with a 84-64 win.

The win was a huge one for us as it puts us 3rd place in our group and in a good spot for qualification to the next round. Green finished the night with 19 points and 10 assists while Mavroeidis also had 19 points complimented by 6 rebounds. Other noteworthy performances came from Sakota who finished with 10 points and Harris and James who both finished with 8 points.

Despite the result and the fact that we find ourselves in 3rd place, the group is still very tight with 3rd to 6th all tied on 14 points. Its worth remembering that the top four teams from each group advance so we’re safe where we are at the moment, but any poor results going forward could be the difference between qualifying and going home early.

AEK 0-0 Apollon Smyrnis

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , on December 18, 2017 by alexaek

Just like that, after what was a great weekend all around for AEK last week, we’re brought back to down to earth with one of our most disappointing results of the season. I don’t know what it is exactly about Apollon, but they’ve given us a hard time the past few times we played them and Saturday was no exception. Just looking at our past results was enough to have me worried that we might drop some points against them: 3 of our past 4 competitive matches against them have now ended in draws.

Now sometimes teams come into OAKA and play a very well structured defensive system, one that gives us a hard time to break down. What disappointed me most about this match though was that was hardly even the case. Sure Apollon played defensively but it wasn’t really effective. Instead, what let us down this time around was that we were simply ineffective going forward. We had a few half chances, but rarely did we genuinely look like scoring. To be fair to them team, its been a busy few months and overall they’ve looked alright, so I think its not a huge surprise that they might slump for a game.

The timing however was just awful. Had we won, we would have gone into the Christmas break as leaders of the league for yet another week. Instead, we find ourselves in 2nd, even on points with PAOK. Of course we’re still only one point behind Oly so in theory we should still have a chance, but Oly have been in pretty good form lately and with some Europa League games coming up in 2018, fatigue will play a bigger role on us than it will with them.

It wasn’t only our football match that was a let down, as we also suffered an awful defeat to PAOK in Basketball, losing 86-65 to PAOK in a match where it sounds like we just didn’t show up. Things were looking good for us going into this game as we were not only coming off of the win against Oly, but also an important European win against Estudiantes. A win against PAOK would added considerable momentum at a time when we desperately need it but instead the team just faces more pressure now to get results. We barely have a chance at advancing in Europe and we now find ourselves 6th in the league. We’re still not even half way through the season so theres still plenty of time to turn it around, and if theres one positive to take from this season so far, its that its still even and that any position behind PAO and Oly is still definitely up for grabs.

AEK 3-1 Kerkyra

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Europa League with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2017 by alexaek

After another weekend of wins for Oly, PAOK, and Atromitos, the pressure was on AEK again today to get a win. Sure enough, they delivered yet again and for another week remain on top. Its still a fragile lead, with only one point separating us and Oly, but as long as we keep getting results I can’t complain.

Today’s match went as expected against second to last placed Kerkyra, although Kerkyra definitely didn’t get off to the start they had hoped for after their keeper scored an own goal to open the scoring for AEK. It all happened in the 11th minute when Lazaros had two chances to finish from point blank range but it was instead the keeper who ended up getting the ball into the back of the net.

Kone continued the scoring, scoring his first goal with AEK in over ten years. And what a goal it was; a poor clearance by Kerkyra landed right at Kone’s chest who with some great control and a beautiful finish lobbed the ball right out of the keeper’s reach and into the net.

Araujo finished off the scoring for AEK after yet another poor clearance by Kerkyra’s defense ultimately landed at the Argentinian’s feet. Araujo, showing sings of what we came to expect of him last year, finished it beautifully with a one timer that left the keeper with no chance.

Kerkyra managed to pull one back but it was too little too late for them. The penalty that lead to their goal was questionable at best, but it was the only downside of what was another convincing performance by AEK.

Whats most impressive for me about our recent performances is that we’re consistently getting results without Mantalos and Johansson. Players like Klonaridis and Kone who earlier in the season weren’t showing as much promise as we expected are now proving to have rather considerable roles in the team. Even Araujo, who had a slow start to his season this year, is starting to find himself on the scoresheet more and more often. Its a good time for the team to find some form since it will only get tougher from this point on as the pressure increases. The only thing I’m weary about at this point is that with the Christmas break fast approaching, its a very real possibility that the break might affect our momentum. Of course, it might not affect us at all, but its always a risk when you’re away from the game for a while.

 

Today’s result wasn’t the only news for our football team today. Earlier in the day, the draws took place for who we would face in the Europa League Round of 32 and to be honest, I feel like it could definitely be worse. The luck of the draw paired us with Dynamo Kiev, Ukranian runners up last season. I’m not saying it will be an easy two matches by any stretch, but we definitely have more of a chance at getting a favourable result against them than say Atletico Madrid or Arsenal for example (even if both of those teams aren’t in great form in their respective leagues).

 

One last piece of AEK news worth mentioning comes from our basketball game yesterday. We played Olympiakos and considering our recent league form, I don’t think anybody was realistically expecting much of a result. Instead, what happened was something that hasn’t happened in 13 years: we won! 13 years since the last time we beat Olympiakos in Basketball, we beat them again with a score of 66-62. It was a tight game, and towards the end the lead was fluctuating between the two sides quite a bit.

Its been an interesting season for our basketball club. We’re in mediocre form (and thats being generous) in the league and we’re even worse off in European play, yet we’ve beat PAO and Oly within the span of about a month. Strange times indeed, but hopefully our recent switch of coaches will help after we hired Dragan Sakota as our coach for the third time in his career.

AEK in the Round of 32!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League, football with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2017 by alexaek

After finishing the group stages undefeated, AEK are in the Europa League Round of 32! Its worth remembering too that this was our first time playing in the group stages of a European Cup since before we fell to the 3rd division.

Management and the team both deserve credit for what they accomplished since even though we might not have won as many games as we would have liked, it was a solid performance in the group stages that even brought us close to beating Milan twice. The performance is especially impressive when you consider that we are the only team in our group not to lose a match after Milan’s loss to Rijeka today.

Today’s match which confirmed our progression to the next round was a 0-0 draw away against Austria Wien. Not entirely impressive on its own, but the team did well to do what they set out to do and come away with at least a point. There were some chances for both sides but it sounds like Wien rarely seemed likely to finish with a win.

Worth noting from the highlight reel below is Araujo’s chance in front of goal but also the open net missed by Wien when Tsintotas punched it straight at the opposition.

 

Of course, the hard part begins now. The draw for the next round takes place on Monday next week, and its safe to say that it could go either way. On the one hand we might be drawn against clubs like Villareal, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Lazio, or CSKA. On the other hand, we could get a little “lucky” and get drawn against a club like Red Bull Salzburg, Lokomotiv, or Viktoria Plzen. To be honest, none of the teams we could face will be easy, its just a matter of how hard it will be to get past. But hey, crazier things have happened and afterall, everyone thought Milan would easily walk through the group but we ended up giving them a run for their money both home and away. Regardless of how the draw goes, I couldn’t be more excited to see AEK in this stage of a European Cup again!

One last thing worth noting: without Olympiakos making it out of their group, we are the last Greek club standing. Aside from bragging rights, this also means we get a larger amount of the market share from UEFA which can only be a good thing.

Levadeiakos 0-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , on December 4, 2017 by alexaek

Another week and we’re still top of the league. Its still far too close for comfort but does it ever feel good.

With the way the standings are right now, every match is a crucial as the one before and today was no exception after both Oly and PAOK won on Saturday. The match went according to plan for the most part, though Levadeiakos were a pretty stubborn side to break down for much of the first half. As the commentators pointed out, they were playing with all men behind the ball for much of the match which made it tough for AEK to find space.

We did find space eventually though in the 52nd minute, with Araujo sending a pass Livaja’s way. Livaja, as is to be expected with someone in the form that hes currently in, cleanly chipped the ball over the Levadeiakos keeper to open the scoring. Araujo had a great chance to make it 2-0 for AEK when was clear on goal himself, only for his chip to just be tipped away by the keeper.

The goal caused Levadeiakos to open up a bit which gave us enough space to find a second goal, this time when Araujo was able to convert after a beautiful ball was sent up the pitch by Tsintotas. Speaking of Tsintotas, he was in nets instead of Anestis today as a result of Anestis and AEK not yet having settled on a new contract from what I could understand.

Overall it was a decent match from an AEK stand point, though truth be told we were hardly challenged by Levadeiakos. They did come close in the dying minutes of the game but even had they scored it would have been too little too late. The statistics yet again showed pretty much how the game went, with AEK having 63% possession and 16 shots in total.

That wasn’t the only game we had lately, as we also had a midweek cup match against Kalithea. The game, which ended 3-2 in AEK’s favour, was more about giving some playing time to reserve players as AEK had already clinched top spot in the group. The roster featured players like Giakoumakis, Vlachomitros, Vinicius, and Giannoutsos. The biggest surprise however Christos Giousis, an 18 year old midfielder who had never yet played in a professional match for AEK. His debut was, safe to say, an exceptional one. Not only did he end up scoring 2 out of our 3 goals, but he generally looked very composed with the ball at his feet.

You can see what I mean here:

The other scorer from the game was, of all people, Tzanetopoulos. It has to be said that even though Giakoumakis didn’t score, he also had a good game which is promising to see considering we all know his potential. He was involved in a number of plays and even he might not have hit the target, his effort was good to see.