AEK 3-0 Kavala!
I really have no clue what to say. I mean, before this match, I wasn’t expecting us to come out with anything more than one point. Yet to get the full three points and to do it in such a fantastic way… I’m speechless.
Before I go on I would like to show the lineup for today’s match. In goal was Saja. In front of him was Araujo, MANOLAS, Jahic, Georgeas. Taking care of midfield was Genztoglou, Kafes, and Leonardo. Finally, up front was Blanco, Djebbour, and Scocco. Now, looking at that lineup (aside from goalkeeper and forwards) one may wonder a few things. Manolas had never played an official game for AEK yet he was starting against a team with a deadly counter attack. Gentzoglou was starting from the start, and Jahic was covering center back, a position he hasn’t played as often this year.
Personally, when I heard that lineup being proposed in the papers a few days before the match I was terrified. I knew what Kavala could do (they held Oly to draws twice this year, as well as beating PAO in OAKA), and I thought they were going to have a great time running circles around our defenders. Well, I couldn’t have been more WRONG!
Our defense was organized from the start and never gave Kavala a chance (the difference between this match and the Larissa one last week was huge). Jahic had a flawless game, Georgeas fought hard as always, and Araujo was tight (nothing unexpected there). However, the big surprise in our defense today was the young Kostas Manolas. The nephew of the great Stelios Manolas had big shoes to fill today yet he showed no signs of struggling to do just that. He controlled the ball with expertise while never panicking, he defended superbly, was not afraid to risk it all for the team, and even helped bring the ball up at times. The kid rightfully got the MVP award for his efforts today.
So, no Makos today you may have noticed. Who took his place? Gentzoglou. Was it the right choice? YES!! He brought total control to our midfield, something Makos rarely (actually, never) provides. He got the ball, made it his, controlled it, ran a bit if he had to, and released. No stress, only concentration and some good football. He helped out all over the pitch and the partnership between him and Kafes was great.
Our offense wasn’t “superb”, but they did the job. Sure, our excellent midfield today may have helped things out but we managed to create some fantastic chances (though it did take a while) though Scocco was relatively uninvolved aside from a few runs every now and then. Blanco had a great chance and also scored a good penalty (the way Djebbour should have done against Iraklis), Djebbour managed to get the ball into the box on a couple of occasions, but, at the end of the day the support from the midfield is what made the difference.
Well, it was a much more pleasing Saturday than last week. We now have 45 points and depending on what happens at the Aris-PAOK match tomorrow, our lead over Aris can still remain pretty considerable. Hopefully this happens in order to give us a little breathing space in case we dont come out with full points next week against PAOK.
Earlier today, Adamidis (who should be officially confirmed as president on Monday) went to the hotel to promise the players a bonus of one million euros if they qualify for Champions League. Perhaps this had an impact on them but either way, if we continue to play this style of football the remainder of the season we can expect nothing other than positive results.