Archive for March, 2016

AEK 92-57 Kolossos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , on March 28, 2016 by alexaek

We may not have had a football match this weekend but our Basketball team was certainly still active. Thankfully after a couple less than positive weekends for the team, we’ve finally returned to winning ways after comfortably getting past 7th placed Kolossos. It was a critical result for the team since it ensures we remain securely in fourth place with a playoff spot looking like a guarantee at this point.

Take a look at the video for some highlights from the game:

Panaitolikos 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football, Greek Soccer, Greek Super League, Panathinaikos, PAOK, Playoffs with tags , , , on March 20, 2016 by alexaek

For what I believe was the first time in Panaitolikos’ history, the small team from Agrinio managed a well deserved victory against AEK. I hate to say it, but at times we were actually outclassed today and even though we weren’t exactly the worst team on the pitch, we certainly didn’t deserve a win with only a draw or a loss being the fair results.

If our performance today is any indication of whats to come during the playoffs, then we won’t have any easy time at all when our time to play PAOK and Panathinaikos comes around. Its still early at this point and I’m hoping what we saw today was just a fluke, but I am a bit worried considering we also had a hard time to make anything happen when we played Tripolis two games back.

Today’s match wasn’t one of those games where just a few key players were having an off day. Instead it seemed like the whole team just couldn’t make anything happen. We had a few half chances but we never really managed to take control, get any sort of a rhythm going and every attack seemed unorganized, as if our players had never played together before. We still managed to create a couple decent opportunities and came very close to scoring once or twice, but even when we looked like scoring the play was wasted through what seemed like a lack of concentration really.

Our offense was not the only part of our team that was having a hard time as our defense also struggled to handle almost everything Panaitolikos threw at us today. Thankfully Baroja had a pretty solid game because he was the only who seemed capable of preventing Panaitolikos from scoring.

Not a good game at all, but its not the end of the road for us quite yet. We still have a decent five point lead ahead of Panathinaikos, although they looked pretty good in their 4-0 win yesterday. Our lead over PAOK is also pretty much untouchable from this point on, but what worries me more than anything is the fact that both PAOK and Panathinaikos seem to be finding some form. If this keeps up, we’ll definitely have to see better from AEK in the remaining three games with our match against Panionios likely being our best indicator of where we stand going into the playoffs.

Highlights:

http://aek365.novasports.gr

AEK 3-0 Panthrakikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football, PAOK, Playoffs, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2016 by alexaek

Such a disappointing finish to a game which started so well. I have no complaints about the score, of course, but when you score three goals within the first twenty minutes I can’t help but build up a sense of expectation. I wasn’t surprised to see the first half end at 3-0, but I was certainly expecting another goal at least.

To be fair to the players though, it wasn’t exactly their fault. The fact that we had two injuries and were forced to make two substitutions very early in the game affected our rhythm from what I read and that’s definitely understandable. We also have to keep in mind the fact that the weather in Athens was dreadful today (cold and wet) as well as knowing that the team probably so no reason in wearing themselves out when we have some important playoff games to get ready for.

MVP of the match I believe was Buonanotte and I can’t help but be happy for him. He’s been given very few chances this season, and he’s hardly ever started a match. Despite this, he always manages to give Poyet a reason or two to trust that he can contribute when we need him. His goal so early on showed exactly the kind of ball movement we need in front of the goal. We have players who can hold on to the ball well in the centre of the pitch and players who can play well down the wings, but very few of our players can draw out defenders while working the ball into the 18 yard box the way Buonanotte can.

Aside from Buonanotte, another player well worth mentioning from today was Mantalos. As is often the case, he showed yet again how desperately we miss his presence when hes not playing. The way he can so confidently keep the ball at his feet until the right moment to make a pass is a huge factor in so many of our plays and when hes in form, he is easily our main player in attack.

The two injuries we picked up today were pretty unfortunate, especially for Soiledis since he had a great start to the game. Aside from Soiledis, Kolovetsios was also injured early on but thankfully for us, both Cordero and Buonanotte managed to play the whole game without injuring themselves.

Today’s win puts eight points ahead of PAO and a comfortable thirteen points ahead of fifth placed Panionios. What this means for us is that if the playoffs were to start today, we would start with three points, Panathinaikos with one, and both PAOK and Panionios with none. At this point I really can’t see us dropping many points and I’m pretty confident we’ll be starting the playoffs with three points. Considering we might have to have our fans banned from some of the home games during the playoffs, any point advantage we can get could potentially go a long way.

Highlights as usual at the NovaSport page below:

http://aek365.novasports.gr

Yet again…

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2016 by alexaek

… Another derby thrown away by our basketball team. Today’s 93-100 home loss to Olympiakos means we only have one win from seven derbies this season. A couple years ago I may have expected that since we’ve rarely fielded a half-decent team these past few seasons, but I was hoping this year would be different.

Really, things very easily could have been different. Sure, the referees at some of the games were pretty terrible (today against Olympiakos, and two weeks ago against Aris, for example) but half the derbies we’ve played this season we could have easily won had we not given them up so easily. Today’s game was not lost because Olympiakos was the better team but because we made unnecessary errors and missed free throws that we should have easily scored. The loss against PAOK in Thessaloniki was lost because we somehow let a massive lead slip away due to poor defending and a lack of concentration when attacking. How many more derbies will we let slip away from us like this?

The team deserves credit, they really do. They’ve played some great games against the smaller teams in the league and had a good run in Europe. But for some reason as soon as they face either Aris, PAOK, Olympiakos, or Panathinaikos, they just can’t hold on. Even when they start games so well, even when all it takes to win is making one out of two three points, they just don’t seem able to do whats needed and I really don’t know why. Its getting rather unbearable at this point and it makes me scared of what they playoffs might have in store for us.

The worst part about all of this is the fact that our team has shown that they have what it takes to beat any team in this league, apart from maybe Panathinaikos. Just look at today’s game for example: Was it easy? Absolutely not, but we managed to play level with Olympiakos for the whole match and most of the two periods of extra time. Really, the only difference between the two teams was the lost free throws towards the end of the first period of extra time that could have won it for us. Even Olympiakos’ coach said that we could have won the game.

I don’t know what else we need to do at this point to be able to firmly place us back in the top three. The first choice might be to get more players but I wouldn’t even say thats our priority at this point. The team we have now has shown that they’re capable of winning against the bigger teams. The players aren’t our problem right now, our problem is something deeper. Is it with what the coach is saying? Is it a fitness issue? Or perhaps its Psychological? Hopefully someone finds the answers soon, because otherwise I fear we’ll see more of the same next season.

Asteras Tripolis 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2016 by alexaek

Didn’t get the chance to watch the game since I was at work, but I’ll try to summarize some of the main points from the game based on the highlights and what I read during and after the game.

The good:

  • We managed to at least get a point. Asteras are never an easy opponent, as they proved in the first round, so I guess a point isn’t all that bad. We’re still five points ahead of Panathinaikos and have an easier schedule ahead of us.
  • Cordero managed to get some solid game time without picking up an injury, and Buonanotte also got the chance to play a bit.

The bad:

  • We really could not finish, and that is worrying. Its one thing if we struggle to create chances, but we definitely made some chances today but still never really looked like scoring. As my father pointed out, we have a number of set plays but still Poyet didn’t even give Pekhart a chance as a sub. Personally I feel like today would have been a great game for Pekhart, at least after half time.
  • Djebbour is bad… really bad. I wouldn’t be upset if I never saw him play again to be honest. Mistake after mistake, and an absolutely pointless red card to top off what was a terrible performance. Linking to my previous point, I really have to wonder why Poyet went with Djebbour over Pekhart.
  • Asteras had way too many chances. We were lucky to not concede, very lucky. Based on what I saw from the highlights, I would even say that Asteras looked more dangerous inside the box than we did, and our sloppy defending did little help. Terrible clearances, poor tackles or a lack of any sort of tackle when it was needed, we ended up giving Asteras way more room and time than we should have.
  • We should have had a penalty after Iglesias pulled Lambropoulos down in the box. How neither the ref not the linesmen saw it I really can’t understand.

So not a great game overall. At least both teams managed to create a few chances, but we really could have and should have come away from this game more. Its games like these though that show how desperately we need players with experience, calm nerves, and motivation. Sure we got some big derby wins and theres no denying that our players have the right attitude at times, but we need a team that will walk away from games like today’s with three points and without even struggling to do it. I know everyone always says it, but its games like these that always count in the end. The derby wins are nice, but we absolutely need to get all three points from the smaller games where a team like AEK should always be the favourite.

Not much else to say about the game since I didn’t actually get the chance to watch it, but I will mention the fact that Zuculini was in the stands to support the team, having travelled from Athens to Tripoli with crutches just so he could be there with them. I don’t know whats in store for him, and whether we’ll actually ever see him play for us again, but the fact that hes been attending practices and following games despite still recovering from his injury is quite something. There’s no doubting that he wants to be part of the team and I can only hope that he recovers fully so we can see him action again. I’m sure he still has a lot more to offer.

One final thing to note was that Johansson picked up an injury. Definitely not something I want to hear with playoffs coming up rather quickly, but judging from what I’ve heard, it doesn’t sound too serious. He’ll need some time off, but I’m hoping he’ll be back within a game or two.

Highlights on the NovaSport sight as usual:

http://aek365.novasports.gr

Looks like the end of the Cup

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Atromitos, football, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , on March 4, 2016 by alexaek

As usual, not a week or two go by in Greece without Drama of some sort. If you haven’t yet seen what happened earlier in the week during the PAOK-Olympiakos semi-final match in Toumba, check out the video below to get an idea:

Not once, but twice was the game called off after fans invaded the pitch. Initially it was a response to the terrible officiating throughout the match, but I get the impression it ultimately stemmed from an overall sense of frustration with the overall sense of Greek football. Widespread corruption, leagues being won before they even start, an incompetent government getting in the way of any progress being made to advance the sport in Greece, the frustration can be somewhat understandable.

As is typical of Kontonis, his first actions were to cancel games without making any attempt to actually solve any of the problems which have led to football in Greece being the way it is. How many times now have we seen him call of games? Postpone the league? Has it made things any better? In my opinion I’d say its just made things worse. Sure, something needs to be done, but banning all fans as the result of the actions of a few solves nothing. All that has happened is that the resentment of the fans towards the ministry of sport, and to Mr.Kontonis in particular, has grown each time he’s taken some form of action.

To make matters worse, rather than just call of one game, he has called of the entire cup. This was AEK’s chance to win some silverware in our first season back, a chance for Poyet’s and the team’s hard work to be rewarded. Instead, hes taken all of that away from AEK (and Atromitos).

I’m not saying that AEK is the only team that matters in all of this. But how does preventing us from the playing the cup, especially after our fans have been rather well behaved (aside from the incidents in Peristeri), solve anything? Does he think these “hooligans”, or whatever he wishes to call them, will just go away over time? I really don’t understand it.

Where this all leaves us I really don’t know. As of yet, the league hasn’t been called off yet but it seems like that is yet another course of action Kontonis is willing to take. Something which will ultimately mean no European football for us next season, despite all the effort we’ve given to get to where we are now.

What else does this mean? Well for one, I can’t imagine Poyet would be willing to stay at all if the league were to in fact be cancelled, and I can’t imagine any serious coach would be willing to give Greece a try. It also means more of our talented players would leave the country while making it harder to attract quality foreign players. Investment will probably ultimately leave as well as any serious efforts to develop the sport in any way. Aside from alienating fans and building up even more resentment among them, moves like this, without any other serious efforts to solve the problems, will do nothing but ensure that football in Greece continues to become even more of a joke than it already is.

I’m really not sure what to expect going forward. For now it seems like league games this weekend will still go ahead, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re cancelled at the last moment. Afterall, it took so long for the announcement that our Cup game was cancelled to get out that the referees had actually arrived at OAKA without even knowing anything had happened.

For a bit more info surrounding all the events of the past few days, take a look at the articles below:

http://www.ekathimerini.com/206597/article/ekathimerini/sports/government-suspends-greek-cup

http://neoskosmos.com/news/en/Uncertainty-surrounds-Super-League