Archive for October, 2015

Xanthi 0-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by alexaek

A big win for AEK today, a win which was crucial to ensuring we progress to the next round of the cup. I was able to follow the commentary on and off throughout the match and it definitely sounded like an improvement over the last time we played in Xanthi.

I never expected this to be an easy match, and it doesn’t sound like it was at all. We managed to create a number of decent chances though and for periods of the match it sounded like we were in total control. Unfortunately though, our final few touches were lacking, quite the opposite of what we saw during the game over the weekend against Iraklis. I’m sure that this was at least partially due to the fact that Mantalos was missing from the starting XI, though the fact that we were still able to hold on for the win in a tough stadium without him is a relief. We were also missing Aravidis from the starting lineup, but thankfully Chrisantus managed to make it count when we needed it most. It wasn’t the most beautiful goal, but it was the kind of goal we need to score more of, the scrappy, loose ball kind of goal that Blanco was so good at finishing off. I’m very happy to see Chrisantus score again as the guy hasn’t stopped trying all season and judging from his reaction after scoring the goal, he was pretty happy too.

A big win for us, and hopefully a win that will help us build on the momentum we started over the weekend leading into the derby with PAO. Unfortunately though, today’s match was not the cleanest and there were a few injuries suffered, possibly the most worrying one being the injury Baroja picked up. He was able to play on which was a relief, but I’m hoping there won’t be some effects of the injury noticed later on as he has been crucial for us this season. In addition, I think Simoes may have also picked up a bit of an injury, hopefully we’ll learn some more about that later on.

In other AEK news, our basketball team won their first European game of the season, 87-70 against Nizhny Novgorod. Our performance in the 4th quarter was absolutely phenomenal, forcing wide open a match which had been rather close for the first three quarters. Things are still pretty tight in our group, and we were rather unlucky to not win the first game, so hopefully this win can finally turn things around. I never expected us to challenge for first place with Galatasaray being in our group, but I do think that we have a shot at second, or at least third place (neither of which will be bad performances considering this was our first European appearance in so many years).!report


AEK 5-1 Iraklis

Posted in AEK, Greek Cup, Manager, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by alexaek

Despite all the events of the past week, AEK managed to rebound in the best possible way. Not only did we manage to get the three points from the win, but we did it by playing some great football and scoring the most goals we’ve scored in one game for many years now.

I was somewhat nervous about the game for a few reasons. First of all, regardless of the fact that Iraklis also just came up from the second division, they are a team that can never be taken lightly. Plus, having just lost our coach, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction the players were going to have. I’m very happy to see they were able to respond positively since I feel that it shows that the team definitely has some character. To come back from a heavy loss to our rivals and having your coach resign two days later, to come back from all that and play some of the best football they’ve played yet this season shows that there is definitely something good to build on with this team.

I only managed to have a working stream for part of the second half so I unfortunately missed all of our goals as they happened. I was able to follow the commentary online and on the radio though, and while it certainly helped that Iraklis were clearly not having a great day, there was no doubt that our attacking play was quite good. We seemed to have a lot of players who all found their form at once such as Barbosa and Vargas, but the key to this game was Mantalos. He didn’t manage to score a goal himself (though he did come close on a nice shot from far out), but he was heavily involved in almost all of the goals we scored. The game showed us just how important a role he can play when he is fit and in form and while it gives me some relief knowing we can make and finish chances, I also feel like we have such a wasted opportunity. With a player like Mantalos, who is able to read and set up plays so well, its such a shame that we did not invest a little more in some solid strikers, people who could latch on to the balls he sends in and finish consistently.

I’m not too sure how we looked defensively, partly because Iraklis had so few opportunities to create anything dangerous in our own ends. Kolovetsios played instead of Tzanetopoulos for the game, so I’ll be interested to see if Manolas sticks with Kolovetsios for the cup game this week as well.

Our next two games are a cup game away to Xanthi, and PAO away. Two tough games, but I’m actually confident we can get anywhere from four to six points of the two games. Xanthi will be tough but I feel like something special clicked last game and I certainly hope we can carry the momentum through to that game too. We’ve already played Xanthi away this season and while we didn’t end up scoring, we weren’t exactly outplayed either. With Mantalos on form, I’m sure we can get the win.

I’m without a doubt worried about the PAO game away, but PAO lost 3-1 today to PAOK, and derbies can always go either way. PAO’s form is nothing exceptional, and I actually don’t think they have a particularly great team this season. They’ll have  the advantage of playing at home, and they definitely have a few solid players, but I think if we play well then we can definitely compete pretty evenly with them.

For those who haven’t been following the news lately regarding our coaching situation, we are supposedly pretty close to signing Gus Poyet as our next manager. I’m not entirely familiar with him, but I know he has some experience in the Premier League which can’t be a bad thing. I know some people were hoping for a manager with more experience, but perhaps having someone younger with some Premier League experience might benefit us more in the end, especially as far as attracting new players is concerned. I’m hoping something will be wrapped up in the next few days, but on the other hand I like what Manolas did for our game against Iraklis (even though it was quite similar to the team Dellas was fielding) so I wouldn’t mind seeing him continue until just past the PAO game. I’m a bit worried that having a new coach come in now before such important games might affect the players a bit.

Dellas Quits

Posted in Dellas, Jimenez with tags , , on October 20, 2015 by alexaek

It was a really strange moment when earlier today, just before I opened AEK365 to read the headlines, I imagined in my head reading about Dellas leaving. Sure enough, I open AEK365 and see the headline saying “End of Dellas at AEK”…

Kind of surprised, but also not surprised on the other hand. I could see it coming, teams in Greece are never very patient when it comes to coaches and poor performances and AEK has certainly proven to be no exception to this in the past. But I also thought things would be different with Dellas, I thought he would be given more of a chance than other coaches we’ve had in the past. Sure he’s made some mistakes so far this season, but its his first season as a manager in the first division, and he hasn’t exactly had the best team to work with. Regardless of tactical choices in our games against Olympiakos and PAOK, it was clear to me that far more was needed from our players, and not our manager.

From what I’ve been reading, it sounds like it was Dellas who resigned, rather than management getting rid of him, but I cant help but feel the pressure has piled up on him following our disappointing performances lately. I personally find it a bit unfair that he received the criticism that he’s had so far, but I suppose in a way its better he leaves now before things get even worse. I would have been truly disappointed to have seen him stay on all season only to endure more poor results, bad press, and complaints from the supporters. At the end of the day, and regardless of what results we’ve had under his leadership, he really is an AEK legend, one of the best players we’ve had in recent years, and I’d much rather he be remembered for his wonderful contributions as a player than a few bad results as manager. He stuck with the team, as player and manager, through some of our worst seasons, always giving everything he could without ever causing any trouble. He clearly loved the team, and I hope all of our supporters realize what a privilege it was to have someone like him be involved with our team the way he has been. We’ve had a lot of centre backs come and go over the years, but he will always be one of the few that I really remember bringing a sense of calm and organization to our defense whenever he was involved.

What our next step will be I couldn’t say. Rumours have it that we’re looking at bringing back Manolo Jimenez. Not sure if this is the best option for us, but its certainly not the worse. He was the last coach we won a title with afterall, and if he makes it until next season, and we actually sign a strong squad, I think he can be a very good person to have in charge. Hes familiar with the country and the league which would help considering things are pretty urgent.

Aside from Jimenez, I’m not really sure what other options are available. And I’m not even sure if we’d be better off with a Greek or foreign coach. At least Jimenez would be good with our Spanish speaking players, but I’m sure having Dellas around was a boost to our Greek players and I would hate to see them lose the experience they were getting so far.

Regardless of what happens, all I can say is thank you for everything Dellas. A lot of players come and go, but its the guys like Dellas, Georgeas, Libe, and Zikos that you really remember. Players who play for AEK because they understand the history and what it means to play for a team like AEK.

I’ll try to post any updates as soon as I can.

Olympiakos 4-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by alexaek

Its always painful loosing a derby, and more so when you lose by so many goals. But what made this loss sting even more was the fact that Olympiakos played like garbage. Absolute garbage, but we still could not beat them.

If we had the AEK of five, ten, of fifteen years ago, when we had players like Scocco, Blanco, Liberopoulos, Dellas, Papastathopoulos, Zikos, Katsouranis, Tsiartas, Demis, etc… This Olympiakos team of today would not have stood a chance. If we had a team that compared to the teams we had in the past, we would have clinched the title before the league even started. Instead, despite having just started a new chapter in our history, and having an owner with extremely deep pockets, all we can hope for with our current team is a chance of finishing in the playoffs and maybe qualifying for Europa League this year.

These ambitions might be okay for a team like Iraklis, Atromitos, or Panionios, but they are not the ambitions we should have for AEK. Unfortunately though, its all we have at the moment and I can’t help but put a lot of the blame on Mellissanidis. We lost the yesterday’s game on our own yesterday. Was the officiating horrible? Of course it was (who was expecting otherwise). We had three offsides called against us that shouldn’t have been called, we got cards for non-fouls while Olympiakos we’re pulling our shirts and dragging us down left, right, and centre without even getting a talking to. Not to mention the fact that their first goal was a clear foul on Didac…

None of this matters to me though because we hardly deserved much from this game at all. The players are to blame for sure since they created far too many mistakes, wasted far too many chances, were not composed when they needed to be, and had no idea what was going on tactically for much of the game. However, there is only so much they can do. They aren’t a bad team, but they’re clearly not great either, and also far too unexperienced for high pressure games (two terrible performances and two losses in our first two derbies clearly shows this). Like I said earlier, Olympiakos were not great either, and we managed to create chances and hold onto possession for much of the game. But the difference between the two sides, aside from the refereeing, was that Olympiakos we’re able to finish the chances they had when they needed to.

I’ll also have to blame Dellas for our loss. It’s been mentioned a lot online already, but the moment that really changed everything for us was when Dellas took Simoes off and replaced him with Buonanotte. I don’t feel like putting Buonanotte on was a bad choice, but Barbosa should have been taken off, not Simoes. Simoes was one of the few players who was helping us keep possesion in the middle while Barbosa was doing very little all game. I know Barbosa has had some decent form lately and maybe Dellas was hoping he would work some magic, but he clearly took a risk that didn’t pay off as almost immediately after the substitution, we completely lost any control of the game that we had before.

Having said all of that, there is one person who I hold more responsible for yesterday’s result than anyone else. For the past two seasons we’ve finally had an owner that could bring some stability to the team. He brought hope to the team, promises of a stadium, and he was not afraid to say what he had to say to stand up for us. He promised AEK would return strong, he said Olympiakos and PAO would fear us, he said he would clean up the league, he said he would build a stadium, he said this, he said that. What has he actually done though? I was happy to see someone who was willing to speak up, who made us confident that good times we’re coming again, but I’m starting to quickly realize that Melisanidis is all talk and little else. Its early still, and I want to give him a chance, but he has done hardly anything for the team until now and its doing us no good at all.

For someone with the money he has, why have we not yet built a good squad? Why couldn’t we go after some solid players, maybe someone like Scocco instead of Djebbour. Why do we still have to count on Aravidis and Chrisantus to score goals for us. Why are we relying on inexperienced centre backs like Tzanetopoulos? I have nothing but respect for Aravidis, Chrisantus, and Tzanetopoulos, but these guys alone are not the level of players we need to be able to field a solid, championship worthy team. These players will never be able to compare to previous AEK teams, not on their own at least. Is that bad thing? Not if we were Panionios, or Iraklis, but we are AEK. We don’t manage to get 70,000 supporters in a stadium to watch a team that is good enough for fifth place. We haven’t had previous generations of AEK teams build a legacy only for us to get where we are now, and we certainly didn’t go through so many embarassing seasons, only to end up in the third and second division, to become a fifth place First division team.

Melisanidis needs to stop talking, and he needs to realise with the current atmosphere and mindset supporting the team at the moment, we’ll never be where we need to be. Maybe he doesn’t want to spend the money, which I can understand, but then why make us become a third division team, why talk the way you do, only to not actually give us the support we need? I’m hoping this result and the one against PAOK are wake up calls…

And to make one thing clear… I know there was talk before the season about how management didn’t want to spend too much money on what was our first year back in the first division, and I understand that. We’re AEK, but of course we need to build up again. BUT, we didn’t need lots of money thrown at the team. We just needed a better plan and a few solid players, players who could really make the difference. Yesterday’s game was one that we could have taken so easily with a few more experienced players. It really would not have taken much to have built a team that could take Olympiakos, PAO, and PAOK this season. Each one of those teams are weak this year, and we’re just a bit weaker…

I don’t know what to say, but I really hope we’re going to see some sort of change, at least come january. We’ve clearly lost the championship already, but I would love to at least see an AEK that can go into these derbies knowing what they have to do to win. Unfortunately, we didn’t even know how to play in order to take the game, even if we had the players to do it…

To see some video of the horrible officiating, check out this link.

Olympiakos – AEK One Day Away

Posted in AEK with tags , on October 16, 2015 by alexaek

Less than one day until what will probably be our biggest test of the season. Do I think we’re ready? Hm, not sure, but I really see no reason why we shouldn’t go into Karaiskaki looking for nothing but the win. These games are never easy, but as we saw last year there is definitely a chance that we can come away with some points. Of course, Olympiakos won’t be underestimating us this time around, its a league game instead of a Cup game, and they have definitely improved their roster this season, but all of that applies to us as well.

I really don’t know what to expect, but I’m hoping we can go in there and give them a run for their money. I also hope (but don’t really expect) we see some decent refereeing during the game. I want us to be able to look back on the game, regardless of the result, and say we deserved whatever result we ended up with, rather than having all the focus be on some questionable calls.

Some videos to get us in the mood:

AEK 1-0 Atromitos

Posted in AEK, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2015 by alexaek

An unconvincing scoreline to accompany a similarly unconvincing performance for AEK. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but we certainly didn’t play the best football I’ve seen from the team.

If one thing is clear from today’s game, its the fact that we desperately need some more attacking presence up front. Our midfield did well today to create some chances since Atromitos was determined to shut us down outside their box, but despite all our efforts, it was not until Chrisantus came on as a sub late in the game when we were finally able to break the deadlock.

I have no complaints at all about Aravidis, and despite Chrisantus’ lack of goals scored, I can’t complain about him too much either, but those two are simply not enough of a threat up front. We were so badly lacking the finishing touch today, and sooner or later, not being able to finish our chances will really make the difference when we need it most. Aravidis can’t be expected to do it all on his own, and while Chrisantus seems to contribute overall when hes on the pitch, his goal scoring record certainly needs some improvement. Of course we have Djebbour, but even in the past he was anything but reliable, and to be honest I wouldn’t mind if we got rid of him altogether considering he has hardly proved he deserves a spot, and his attitude seems to be as much of a problem as ever. I’m really worried that our lack of strikers is going to lead to more close matches for us, matches we should be winning with fairly convincing scorelines.

Aside from our offense today, our defense was also quite unconvincing. Galo and Didac did well on the wings, particularly going forward, but Lambropoulos and Tzanetopoulos in the centre seemed unorganized quite a few times (this was particularly a problem since Atromitos seemed to prefer attacking through the centre). Fortunately, our midfield did a fairly decent job of moving the ball around, but with an easily undone central defense and a lack of finishing up front, we’re going to have a tough time in Karaiskaki next week.

It was nice to Cordero come on towards the end of the match. Hopefully he’ll be able to stay healthy for a while as its been quite a long time since we’ve really had the chance to see what he can do.

Overall I can’t say I was too happy with what I saw today. I was never worried about us not finishing with the three points, but the team never really seemed to gel at any point during the game. We were limping through the entire match, and I’m not sure if it was complacency, nerves for next week, or us just being in a poor psychological state in general. Either way, we are now six games in and if the team is going to start showing some truly promising signs, it has to happen now. We have a three point cushion in third at the moment, but with two more big derbies coming up before the winter break, we’ll definitely need to see more from the team if we can expect to comfortably make the playoffs.

For highlights, as usual, check our novasport page:

AEK-Atromitos (Halftime)

Posted in AEK, Greek Super League with tags , , on October 4, 2015 by alexaek

For anyone who wants to watch the game, I’ve found this stream here:

Quality isn’t great, but it’ll have to do.

EDIT: More reliable stream with no ads, but also no sound.

Very mediocre performance from the team so far. Defensively we haven’t been tested too much, but when we have there seemed to be very little organization from the back four. Atromitos had a couple chances that were a little too close for comfort. In terms of our midfield, I’d say it was okay, but not great. We’re moving the ball around and finding some space, but showing very little creativity and relying too much on getting balls in from the centre.

As far as offense is concerned, I’m certainly hoping for a lot more in the second half. We’e been created some dangerous chances, but our finishing has been dreadful. Part of it seems to come down to our forwards not being positioned well, but even when they find themselves in a good position to score, they’ve constantly blown it every time. With a bit more patience from our forwards in the second half, plus a reshuffle of our midfield, we can definitely score in the second half, but the team will need to play smarter.