Inter 0-0 AEK
Our final test before the regular season ended with a rather disappointing scoreline, but there were definitely quite a few positives that can be taken from what I saw. I only managed to watch the second half, but from what I read we were also quite solid in the first half, as we were in the second.
Defensively I feel we’re set. Johansson proved last season that he’s one of our best players and I get the feeling things will be the same this season. Sure we’ve signed some bigger names, but hes just so good at what he does that I cant help but admire his playing every time I get to watch a match. He may not be as flashy or technical as other players, but he is so good at doing what we need him to do (breaking up plays and moving the ball around). His strength on the ball is also phenomenal as is his composure. Hes relatively young at 25 but he plays the way players with much more experience than him play, and I genuinely believe that he will be one of our most important players this season.
Another player who really stood out for me was Galo. I’ve been reading pretty good things about him so far this pre-season, and watching him today made it clear that he has a lot to offer to the team. Hes reliable as a defender, has a lot of pace, fights and wins back balls, and provides so much offensively. He was always moving forward while seeming to never lose the pace he had earlier and was consistently able to deliver great balls into the box. In fact I’d say his crosses into the box were what impressed me most; they were almost always perfectly taken and well aimed.
I also have to give credit to Anestis. He came on later in the second half and replaced Baroja. Now, I know I was rough on him last season for the mistakes he made, but if he plays the way he did this game in the regular season, I would be more than happy to see him start over Baroja. Of course I dont see that happening, but I think he proved today that he deserves another chance. Around the time he came on, Dellas switched things around quite a bit, bringing on some less experienced players. Part of the downside of these changes was that Inter were able to move the ball around a lot more freely inside our area, but shot after shot, Anestis was there to save the day.
I was particularly disappointed with two players today: Djebbour and Chrisantus. Djebbour was much of what we’ve already seen so far this pre-season in the sense that he was sloppy and really didn’t seem to have any eye for goal. Chrisantus was also disappointing, but for different reasons. What bothered me most watching Chrisantus was the fact that he was evidently giving everything he had, constantly moving around, getting involved with plays, trying to create plays. Unfortunately though, it seemed that despite all his efforts, he just did not have what it took to make anything work. Sure he was giving a lot of effort and I of course appreciated that (it contrasted quite a bit to the way Djebbour was playing), but nothing he was trying worked and he too was quite sloppy. I feel that part of the problem was that we were not as decisive going forward as we were against Sevilla and so it seemed he felt like he had to make up for that. I’m hoping that when we start playing in the league, we’ll be able to move the ball forward more efficiently and free up Chrisantus to play more as a striker rather than playing deeper as an attacking mid.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with how we played. I would have loved to have seen a goal or two, and while Inter are not the team they used to be, holding them back the way we did is something worth appreciating. The goals and attacking edge will come with time, especially with all the new players we’ve signed. As long as we are solid defensively, I feel like we have something very good to build up from.