Cup Bound

Another game I wasn’t able to watch but from what I’ve read so far, it sounds like our playing left much to be desired. But, in the end we did enough to get through like I knew we would and now its all or nothing against Olympiakos in the final.

Speaking of finals, the game will be taking place next Saturday, the 7th of May (is it May already?). We were told by Kontonis that we would be getting a foreign ref for the game but as has consistently been the case with everything that the minister has said so far this season, that turned out to be yet another false promise. Surprised? I’m not.

As for today’s game, I get the impression that it was a similar performance to the last time we played Atromitos in Peristeri. A couple attacks, fewer chances, and another unconvincing game from our squad. According to Dellas, Atromitos deserved to go through and were knocked out only because of bad luck. Manolas on the other hand claimed that AEK were the better team. I’m going to go ahead and guess that both teams were equally mediocre at best and that if either team played the Final as they played today, then they wouldn’t stand a chance against Olympiakos.

I’m scared of the Final to be honest. Excited that were in it, happy that it pretty much guarantees us European football next season, but still scared. And not Olympiakos is a great team. As we saw earlier in the season, they are beatable. But as beatable as Olympiakos are, we have proven to be equally unreliable and thats what scares me most. I know that if the team gels well during the game, if we can shut down Olympiakos and generate some pressure in their end, we can get a result. But if we go out and play like we did during some of our weaker performances this season, then we will be in for quite the embarrassment.

Until next Saturday, I’m remaining optimistic. The beauty of a Cup final is that its one match, all or nothing, and trends from the rest of the season often tend to matter little. I know we are capable of beating them or at least able to put up a good fight. If the last Cup final against Olympiakos was anything to go by, we could very well see a pretty entertaining match.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the match will be played in a completely empty stadium and not even with students in the stands as Kontonis suggested would be the case (look at that, another “lie”). A Cup final between these two teams without the two sets of supporters will never be the same, even if it means the inevitable threat of violence is averted. Its unfortunate for our supporters who have waited so long to see AEK get the chance of winning some meaningful silverware but most of all, I’m afraid the game might not have the same energy about it that it normally would. That’s not to say that the players won’t give it their all, but this is one of the biggest derbies in Greece, and in a Cup final; take away the supporters and the game loses almost all of its meaning. Hopefully we still see a good game regardless.

A slight change of topic, but our basketball team is playing game three of the three game series against PAOK tomorrow. I believe the game is at 6:45 Athens time, but I could be mistaken. Either way, I’ll have the chance to watch it (assuming I find a stream) and thank goodness for that since this is, without a doubt, the biggest game of the season for the team so far. We win and we advance to the Final 4, we lose and… well, its over for us.

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