Archive for February, 2016

AEK 1-0 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on February 29, 2016 by alexaek

At the start of this season I wasn’t too sure we’d be able to compete too well when it came to the derbies. I figured with a mix of young players and players who had never experienced first division football in Greece, we’d struggle with the players and more experienced teams.

Our derby performances in the first half of the season seemed to comfirm what I was afraid of at first but I never expected things to turn around the way they have. Yetserday’s win against Panathinaikos has made it three derby wins in a row, something that both Poyet and the team should be immensely proud of. Of course it hasn’t been easy. There were some scares in the PAOK game, Olympiakos were certainly not easy to come up against, and Panathinaikos managed to give us quite the fright on more than one occasion yesterday. But the fact that we managed to score when we needed to in all three games and hold on for the wins shows the team really has developed some character and experience, qualities which we can really build on for next season.

As for our game yesterday, I unfortunately missed some of the first half and had a hard time finding a stream for the beginning of the second half but what I read and saw of our performance was certainly not all good news. To be honest, I thought we would have a pretty easy time with PAO. Afterall, we’ve had some good form recently and have played pretty well since the start of the new year (aside from the game against Iraklis but that was an exception as far as I’m concerned). Our confidence was high and we’ve just generally seemed a level above PAO in most regards. PAO on the other hand have had some terrible form, have looked poor in games that matter, and its safe to say their confidence was not the highest. All this, to me at least, pointed to what should have been a rather routine game for us.

Of course, football is never so straightforward, and especially not when it comes to derbies. Sometimes players have a bad day, sometimes a whole team can have a bad day, and that seems to be what happened to us yesterday. Was it over confidence? Was PAO just feeling the pressure and urgency more than us? Its hard to tell. It would have been one thing if PAO started strong and we fought back soon after, but it took almost the whole first period before we started to show some sort of urgency and motivation to get the ball forward. Our passing was sloppy, we lacked any sort of creativity, and our defense could hardly handle anything that PAO.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our least reliable player on the pitch was Arzo. Despite having a couple good games lately, he seemed to have returned to his usual self, making a number of potentially costly errors, and marking rather poorly to the point where a number of our other defenders would have to cover for him regularly. Defensively, the only player who really stood out for me was Didac while both Kolovetsios and Bakakis seemed to struggle to get comfortable. Bakakis unfortunately picked up an injury late in the game though thankfully for us, we’ll be able to have Galo back for the next game if I’m not mistaken.

As far as midfield and attack is concerned, nobody really stood out for me yesterday. It seemed like the entire team was too afraid to really get themselves forward and find the players providing the support for their passes. Thankfully we managed to pick up the pace a bit later in the game and get some numbers forward, but we still never really looked all that dangerous. As has been the case for the past three derbies though, we finally managed to get our lucky break and make it count with none other than Vargas being the one to score. I know I criticize him on a regular basis for not contributing enough to the team when hes on the pitch but he really deserves credit. When we really need to count on him most, hes always managed to get the ball in the net when players like Aravidis and Djebbour have struggled.

Overall, it was hardly a performance to be proud of. But the team did well to hold on and come away with the win and, more importantly, put ourselves comfortably ahead of PAO by seven points. The season is still far from over but at this point I’d be very surprised if PAO manage to come back and over take us for second (having said that, it could very well happen).

Some great clips from the atmosphere inside OAKA yesterday (I really love the yellow and black smoke bombs at the start of the second half):

A video taken from the stands the moment Vargas scored:

And of course, highlights from the game:

http://aek365.novasports.gr

And one last link, this time to an AEK365 page which has videos of ten fantastic goals we’ve scored from fouls against PAO:

http://www.aek365.com/a-445270/oi-10-gkolare-th-aek-apo-faoul-me-pao-video.htm

Iraklis 1-1 AEK (Highlights)

Posted in AEK on February 21, 2016 by alexaek

Source: Ηρακλής – ΑΕΚ: 1-1 (HL)

Iraklis 1-1 AEK Match Report

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2016 by alexaek

I finally have some time to sit down and write up a report on the rather dull game we had yesterday. As I mentioned in my brief post from yesterday, much of the pitch was flooded from heavy rains in Thessaloniki which continued through the match. As can be expected the game was unable to get into any sort of a rhythm pretty much from kickoff, with players being forced to pretty much lift the ball forward any time they wanted to attempt a run. Also to be expected was the fact that most chances would be coming from set plays, of which there were many though few ever ended up looking dangerous.

I found it funny that after the game, players from both teams were saying their team deserved the win though with conditions the way they were and no team really managing to exert any control over the game, I felt as though a draw was always going to be a fair result. We had a couple of half-chances but I actually feel as though Iraklis came closer to taking the win if anything. They forced a great save from Baroja while the match was still level at 0-0 and had an amazing opportunity missed right in front of the net very late in the game.

Its hard to really comment on how individual players performed since there was no way for them to really play the way they would have normally. All things considered, we did alright since from games like this its mostly a matter of defending and forcing the ball upfield until a foul or corner is called. I do feel though that its worth pointing out that for the second game in a row, Arzo actually wasn’t too bad. Some of his clearances scared me at times but aside from that he actually seemed to be doing what was needed of him. With a big game coming up next week against PAO, now would be a great time for him to either continue his good form or lift his game even more.

Baroja also had a good game for the most part though he certainly could have done better on the goal we conceded. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since games like this, with mud all over the place and balls that are hard to grab on to, it was always a possibility that one would slip by. Aside from the goal he did well to make a big save earlier on and managed to handle everything that was thrown at him. Pekhart also deserves credit for scoring on his first start for AEK, especially since his header was very well taken. Its still early but if he manages to get into some type of rhythm scoring goals like that, I can see him becoming a very important player. We haven’t really seen yet what he has to offer in terms of runs or shots, but if he can make his presence felt in the box like he did yesterday, then I really look forward to seeing what he can offer once hes spent some more time with the team.

While its unfortunate we didn’t come away with the win, we did manage to get off lightly as Panathinaikos dropped points at home to PAOK earlier today. They were up 2-0 at one point but PAOK managed to come back and level the score at 2-2. The result keeps us four points ahead of PAO and with their form being so poor so far and our home form for derbies in 2016 being pretty consistent, I’m confident we’ll be able to get the win and open up the gap even more.

 

In other AEK news, our basketball team won a close game against a resilient Kifissia, almost undoing all the hard work we did in the third period to go so far ahead in the score. In the end, we did enough to hold onto the win with a final score of 76-73. It was a crucial win since it keeps us ahead of Aris by one point going into our game with them next weekend. We tend to struggle with Aris lately and they have a phenomenal record at home, but I know we have a team that is capable of beating them. Whether we can beat them or not really depends on how we play since we have been rather inconsistent this season but I’m really hoping we manage to sneak away what could possibly be our biggest win of the season to hold onto third place and even widen the gap a little.

Iraklis 1-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Atromitos, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , on February 20, 2016 by alexaek

Playing on a pitch that quite resembled the one in the video below, we managed to sneak away with one point after a fairly dull match. A fair result for both teams I feel considering the conditions and to be honest, we could have even gone down 2-1 late in the game had Iraklis managed to put away a great chance they had.

I’ll be away from my PC for the day but will try to get a match report up either tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. Stay tuned for that.

Oh and for those who haven’t heard, as gtmanleg commented on my previous post we’ll be playing Atromitos for the semi-finals of the Cup. Interesting matches coming up with some close games very possible. More on that later as well.

AEK 1-0 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, football, Greek Cup, Greek Football, Soccer with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2016 by alexaek

I’ve been staring at this page for a good twenty minutes trying to figure out what to write, but its always difficult explaining in words what I (and most AEK fans around the world today) feel after a win like this. Its hard to know where to start, what to talk about first, when so much happened during the match. On one hand I feel like talking about our performance would be the natural place to start, but its hard to talk about this match without first mentioning some of the rather unbelievable things that happened.

I really could not believe my eyes when I saw what I was seeing today. Who can remember the last time Olympiakos received a straight red, only to receive another red later in the game in addition to having a penalty called against them? And in a derby of all games? Of course we have to keep in mind that Olympiakos has practically won the championship already and things would have certainly been different had that not been the case. We should also keep in mind though that until now Olympiakos had been pretty close to setting some records for penalties awarded and red cars given (to their opposition of course). The fact that that was all turned on its head and in a derby of all games is pretty noteworthy.

Aside from wondering what led to this change, the main questions that will be asked were whether the cards and penalty were the right calls. Judging by the reactions of the Olympiakos players and staff, they were some of the most atrocious calls ever awarded. I guess they just aren’t used to the feeling of having so many calls go against you? It makes sense considering for a team who is so used to having things go their way, they must have been in a rather uncomfortable position when all of a sudden they weren’t able to get away with everything and continue on playing as though nothing ever happened.

In my honest opinion, each of the calls involving red card and the penalties were more than fair calls by the referee. The only play I am uncertain about at the moment was the first red for the tackle on Aravidis since I haven’t seen a clear angle yet that clearly shows what happened. However, I really can’t imagine Aravidis would go down like that when he was the last man and left one on one with the keeper. Do people really expect Aravidis to go for the dive when he has the chance to score against Olympiakos in front of over 40,000 supporters and be the hero of the day? I certainly don’t.

As for the other calls, the hand ball that led to the second red card for Olympiakos and the penalty, I really don’t know how anyone can complain about it. Not only does Milivojevic clearly make contact with his arm, but he even lifts his arm up in the direction the ball was headed. The ref was right in front of him and in perfect sight of everything that happened, and well done to him for making the call. That’s not to say that the referee was perfect all game, but I know I personally would not want to be the one to make that call against olympiakos. It wouldn’t be the first time that a ref experienced some sort of violence after making a call against Olympiakos.

That’s enough from me now for the refereeing. Not only were the calls fair, but I really have no pity for Olympiakos to finally experience what every other team in the league has experienced every week for the past decade or more when playing against that team. I think its only fair that I talk about our players too since they are, afterall, the ones who deserve credit for giving me the first chance to talk about a win against in Olympiakos in years.

So how did we play? To be honest I had issues finding a good stream for the entire game but I managed to see enough to know that we did what we had to for the win. No, it was not a great performance and yes, I would like to see better. At no point however did we look like the weaker team. At no point did we look like the team that came from the second division while Olympiakos looked like the champions of Greece. At no point did we look like a team with maybe a quarter of the budget of Olympiakos, if not less. Our players came out to play and showed no fear against a team that has not lost in 22 league games.

Some players of course stood out over others. I felt that Mantalos did well to get involved in our attack whenever he could as well as making some good passes. I was also really grateful to see Simoes and Barbosa back in the starting XI as they’re presence really brings the team to a new level. Surprisingly I even felt like Arzo actually didn’t have a terrible game for once. That’s not to say he was phenomenal, but at least I didn’t see him make any critical errors (it is possible that I missed some plays though while my streams were down/unavailable).

On the other hand, Baroja felt a bit shaky, especially earlier in the game. There were a few times on set plays when he came out to clear the ball and missed entirely and he did not seem to be making his presence really felt in the box. Thankfully though he tightened up later in the game and ended up making some pretty good saves. I wonder though how Anestis would have done in the game. Its always nice to see Greeks playing in these games since they grew up understanding what they mean.

I know today’s result only means so much considering we have almost no chance of winning the league, but its still a noteworthy victory regardless. First of all, it shows we’re clearly at least headed in the right direction with Poyet with two derby wins in the second half of the season (and I see no reason why we can’t also win against PAO). Second, it gives me more confidence going into a possible cup semi-final, or even final, against them. We weren’t clearly the better side today, but at no point did we look like underdogs. Aside from maybe the first 15 minutes, at no point were Olympiakos the dominant team. If anything we seemed to be the more composed and focused team, even if we couldn’t create as many chances as we would have liked. With just a bit more composure and focus and possible some more confidence from today’s win, I really feel we can go into a Cup game against Olympiakos and come away with the win.

Highlights, as usual, can be found on the novasports page: http://aek365.novasports.gr/

A longer look at the goal:

Almost forgot. As if this day wasn’t already perfect, our basketball team also won today, 55-65 away against Kavala. A big win as every win is for us as it keeps us in third place, two points behind Olympiakos and PAO (though they both have a game less to play).

Atromitos 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Dellas, Greek Soccer, Greek Super League, Injuries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2016 by alexaek

Just like that, our winning streak comes to an end. It was an unfortunate way for us to lose but I’m hoping that the loss at least serves as a wake up call for the team, a wakeup call which we desperately need following our performance today.

So how did we play? Terribly. Did we deserve to lose? Absolutely. Its hard to find one person to blame the performance on since it seemed like there were very few players who came out today to win. Djebbour did absolutely nothing today, Mantalos seemed to have no imagination, Vargas was quieter and sloppier than Djebbour, and our defense had no idea how to handle any counter attack that was thrown at them.

The game started off slowly, but I was sure that it was just our players getting a feel for how Atromitos would be playing. I was sure that by about the 20th minute we’d start to see some life from our players but the whole first half ended up passing by without one solid chance being created.

Part of me wants to blame Atromitos for playing so defensively that we just couldn’t find a way through but I know that the blame falls on us entirely. Throughout the first half we had possession, we were able to keep Atromitos at bay, but could not find any way of getting a dangerous ball into their box. Even corners for us consistently lead to nothing at all with the corners we were taking more often than not landing right in the keeper’s gloves.

Games like this really make me wonder why Poyet refuses to give Buonanotte more of a chance. Could it be that he thinks he lacks the physicality to be able to hold his ground? Does he something at practice that we aren’t able to experience ourselves? Its possible, but could playing Buonanotte really be any worse than playing Djebbour and Vargas? On games like today’s, with Atromitos parking so many men in front of the net, we need players who can dribble a ball in to the box rather than relying on long balls which will always be defended with ease from one of Atromitos’ eight defenders. Playing Buonanotte from at least half time would have really given us far more options, options which we just did not have otherwise. Even the addition of Platellas in the second half added a bit of life to the team but it still wasn’t enough.

Aside from the awful performance by players such as Djebbour, Vargas, and Arzo, what hurt us most today was the absence of Simoes and Barbosa. Without Simoes today, Johansson was forced to do most of the hard work himself with Zuculini also providing support either beside or behind him. On top of that, the shaky performance from our defenders meant that Johansson and Zuculini had to stay back often to provide defensive support while not being able to contribute to creating any solid attacking plays. Unlike previous games where Johansson and Simoes were able to hold on to the ball and bring it into the half where they could distribute to one of our attacking players, we instead had to rely on Mantalos and Aravidis coming back to set up plays to Djebbour and Vargas (a set up which really did not work well).

Overall we seemed tired, unimaginative, and perhaps even a bit complacent. Of course we were on a good roll, but at no point can we take any match for granted. I hate to say it, but we are nowhere near the level where we can be considered clear favourites against any team in the league. Hopefully the players were reminded of that today because if they play the way they did today against Olympiakos next week, we’ll be in for quite the embarrassment.

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w62qG02W9s

By the way, the standings from AEK below are: AEK with 42, Panathinaikos with 38, and PAOK with 34. Both PAO and PAOK lost over the weekend meaning today’s game would have been a huge chance to go 7 points clear of PAO and 11 clear of PAOK… Unfortunate that we couldn’t take advantage of that. To make things worse, there was some trouble after the match involving our supporter’s after the match which means we possibly face bans for our fans, and even point deductions. Its unclear whether we’ll have fans in the stands for the game against Olympiakos next week, but it seems quite likely that we’ll be facing PAO in an empty OAKA…

 

AEK Through to Cup Semi-Finals

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Draw, Greek Cup, Greek Football, PAOK with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2016 by alexaek

It wasn’t the easiest of wins for us today as Iraklis proved to be quite determined for a goal, but we managed to do enough for a 0-1 win. Of course, this now puts us at 9 wins out of 9 games so far in 2016, a stat which I find reassuring going into four very difficult league games.

Today’s win was very much a formality as we almost all but guaranteed our progress to the next round, but I was glad Poyet took the time to give our new signings some playing time. Zuculini started the match and from what I read did a pretty decent job for his first appearance of the season. Generally, we were holding back quite a bit in the first half so there were only so many opportunities for him to get involved but judging from the commentary I was following, he looked promising every time he was involved with a play.

Pekhart also got some time on the pitch, though he came on as a sub for Buonanotte later in the match. Hard to say how he looked since he came on so late, but hopefully we’ll be seeing more of him this weekend.

Our only goal was scored by Mantalos, the second goal in a row for him now. The finish was well taken but what really made the goal one worth watching is the passing that led up to it. Its the kind of passing that I feel really highlights why we’ve been doing so well under Poyet. Both Buonanotte and Djebour, the two involved with setting up the goal, took the extra second to seek out the better pass rather than simply passing the ball forward and hoping it leads to a chance. If we can play like this against Olympiakos and PAO, we can definitely do some damage.

Unfortunately, we did not really manage to make our mark on the game despite creating some chances, though its understandable. We had the game wrapped up before it started and we have some big games coming up so I understand if Poyet wanted the team to take it easy and not go all out if they didn’t have to. It was too bad to see Soiledis be subbed off so early though with what seems to be a pulled muscle.

We finally got to see Baroja return to action as Poyet decided to give Anestis a well earned break, and I found this promising to see. It gives me the impression that Poyet really does take Anestis seriously and considers him an option for starting keeper, something I was worried wouldn’t happen.

All in all we got the result we needed and we’ve booked our place in the semi-finals of the cup. Still to early to tell who we’ll be facing in the next round as the draw isn’t until next week, but there’s definitely the possibility we could be facing either PAOK, PAO, or Olympiakos. At this point I can’t see Olympiakos not making it to the final and even though I don’t want to get ahead of myself, there’s nothing I would love to see more than us get our revenge against them in the final. We’ll find out for sure either way at the draw next week.

Highlights for the game can be watched below: