Archive for May, 2016

Panionios 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Soccer, Manager, Playoffs, Pre-season, Signing, Singings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2016 by alexaek

A disappointing end to what has been a very disappointing bunch of playoff games for AEK. I knew going into it all that we’d be pretty tired and worn out, but I was hoping for better than 4th place but what can you do? Honestly I can’t complain, I’d rather see us win the Cup and finish 4th rather than finish 2nd but not win the Cup.

I didn’t get to watch the match but it didn’t sound like I missed all that much anyways. We did have a few chances, notably yet another post by Aravidis, but the commentary I was following gave me the impression that it was Panionios who were having more success going forward.

Despite the unfortunate result, it was nice to see Zuculini in the starting XI. I know he had mentioned a few times that he wanted to play for the team again and it was great to see him get a chance. Not sure if theres any chance he’ll be with us next season but I think its worth considering our options if we can keep him. We didn’t get to see all that much from him so I would like to see what he could after a whole pre-season with the team.

Aside from Zuculini, we also brought some other players with us who have yet to feature all that much for us this season including Vouras, Svarnas, Vasilantonopoulos, Vlahomitros, Galanopoulos, and Kyriazis. To be honest I don’t remember seeing all that much at all of any of these players aside from Svarnas and Vasilantonopoulos, but it was nice to see them included. Only Galanopoulos, Vasilantonopoulos and Vlahomitros ended up playing as subs and I’m not really sure how well they played or what contributions they made to the team.

 

Today’s match was the last time we’d see Nikos Pantazis on the bench with the team. Niko, who has been part of AEK’s physiotherapy team since 1972, has been arguably the most loyal member of the team through all these years. He grew up as an AEK fan and never once left the team. When I was back in Greece he was one of those people I always just associated with AEK. Players left, coaches left as often as management did, but Niko was always there. I just wanted to take a moment to thank him for his dedication to the club, even through all that the team has been through. It will be weird seeing shots of the team bench on TV without him on it.

Nikos celebrating the club (photo courtesy of http://www.gazzetta.gr)

 

Shortly after our game today, various news outlets started posting articles in which they said we were very close to singing a new manager. The manager they all mention is Philippe Montanier, most recently the manager of Rennes. He has also managed Real Sociedad and was assistant manager to the Ivory Coast. He’s not too old, but not too young that he lacks experience, and he seems like a fairly serious manager. I don’t all that much about him and while there were other managers out there I would have liked to see with the team, I’d be pretty satisfied if we ended up singing Montanier. Regardless of who do end up singing, I would just like to see it finalized as soon as possible so we can start building our squad right away.

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Highlights From AEK-PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC with tags , , , , on May 30, 2016 by alexaek

For those who didn’t get a chance to catch the game yesterday, highlights are available on NovaSport’s page: http://www.novasports.gr/podosfairo/ellada/super-league/article/275863/live-aek-paok-2000/#.V0wudzeECHs

No goals to catch, but some of Anestis’ saves were worth watching again. We may have hit the crossbar, but its safe to say that Anestis also kept us in the game. Had he not been having such a good day, it could have been a different result all together.

In other news, I’ve also just read that Arruabarrena, our former right back, has just arrived in Athens for talks. He’s been named as one of the favourites to become our new manager, though we’ve also been having talks with a couple other managers, notably Philippe Montanier. We were also in talks with Claude Puel though I’ve just read that hes received a good offer from Galatasaray.

AEK 0-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League, Derby, Draw, Europa League, football, Greek Football, Greek Soccer with tags , , , , , , , on May 29, 2016 by alexaek

Very unfortunate result for us, and one that we perhaps didn’t deserve since we were the only team who showed up today looking for a win. But thats football sometimes. I expected a win, if only for the fact that we’ve won all our derbies at OAKA until now this season, but fatigue once again got the better of us.

We tried, we really did. Especially towards the end we were really piling on the pressure but there was little our players could do. A better rested squad would have easily found a way to get a result but though our intentions were there today, the team just couldn’t physically put in the effort required.

Officiating was back to its usual Greek standards with a clear penalty on Simoes not called midway through the first half. Had the call been given and the penalty converted, it would have been a different game altogether since PAOK were only able to get forward on counter attacks and struggled to take control of the game otherwise.

We’ve always known PAOK was a dirty team on the pitch, especially since the days of Garcia, but today was some of the worst playing from PAOK that I’ve seen in a while. Dirty tackle after dirty tackle, simply with the aim of breaking any rhythm we could get going. It all caught up to them after Tzavellas took down Aravidis on a clear breakaway and got sent off, but our advantage was short lived after Pekhart recieved his second yellow early in the second period. Even when we were playing with a man up though, we couldn’t create all that much.

We had our chances to go ahead, two of them from Aravidis (one of his chances  managed to hit the cross bar), and a few other half chances but for the most part there was little reward for all the effort the team put in. Our supporters appreciated the performance nonetheless, applauding the players at the end of the match, but it was too bad we couldn’t get the three points and give us one last chance to qualify for Champions League play next season. Unfortunately though, as it stands the best we could hope for is making it to the Europea League, and even that would only be after qualifying for the group stages.

As far as Europa League is concerned, the draw for the qualifying rounds take place on the 15th of July and it is then when we will learn who we’ll face. We’ll be placed in the 3rd qualifying round and from then, if I understand correctly, we’ll play in the playoff round for the group stages. It won’t be easy as some of our possible opponents include teams such as Alkmaar, Lille, St.Ettienne, West Ham, Herta, Sassuolo, and Dinamo Minsk, among others. Having said that, I’m pretty confident that with some quality singings this summer, we can make it to the group stages. With our current squad though, as well as they’ve done this season, I really can’t see having too easy a time making it through to the playoff round.

 

It wasn’t all bad news this weekend as our basketball club finally managed to end the series with Aris winning the 4th game 89-81 and in doing so managed to clinch 3rd place. It was a shame we couldn’t beat Aris during the regular season since we’re clearly level with them but the team did well to get it done in the playoffs. They might not yet be at the level of Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, but we’re clearly on the right track. I still don’t think we’ll be able to win the championship any time soon, but it would definitely be nice if we could get a win or two against Olympiakos or PAO next season to give us at least a bit of hope that we may one day see a team like the ones we saw in the past.

If you have some time on your hands, you can catch the whole match below. It was a pretty good game and Herston’s performance in particular was outstanding. I’d say it was easily the best we’ve seen from him all season. Sakota also had a good game and I think he’s done a good job of proving that he should be in the squad next season.

 

PS: For some extra commentary on today’s match, check out this link.

AEK 3-1 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Playoffs with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2016 by alexaek

Huge win for the team today, a win that puts us back in with a shot of getting first in the playoffs. A loss today would have essentially ended all hope for us, but the win now means that if we win both of our upcoming matches, we finish top. I’m feeling pretty confident at this point and if it wasn’t for the fatigue really getting to the players, I would be certain that we could win both games. We play PAOK at home first and as we all know, our home form for the derbies has been pretty solid. The final game of the season is away against Panionios, a game which is never easy but I fancy our chances now given the fact that Panionios has been so poor during these playoffs.

So how did we win today? To be honest, a little bit of luck helped. PAO had two goals called back (though both were the right calls from what I’ve read… still looking for replays though) and they also got a straight red which was supposedly a bit controversial though I have yet to see the replay for that either. Aside from that though, we did everything we needed to get away with the win: taking advantage of set plays and counter attacks. For much of the game PAO controlled possesion but it sounded like they had a harder time breaking through today compared to when we played them on Monday. We were lucky that Leto didn’t get the start since his presence was noticed afterwards when he scored the only goal for PAO.

The two key players for us today in my opinion have got to be Mantalos and Barbosa. Mantalos directly set up our first and third goal while he was also the one to start the counter attack on our second goal. As for Barbosa, well its pretty obvious why I consider his impact on the game today to be so important. Two of today’s three goals were scored by him and both were finished so perfectly that they left Steele with no chance of making the save.

I haven’t really found any decent quality highlights on youtube but you can check out the goals at the following link: http://www.novasports.gr/match-center/match-center-agonas/match/1021/aek-panathinaikos/#.V0ewlTdrhD8 You’ll just need to go down to the live goals section down the page, and watch each goal individually. The third by Barbosa is especially worth taking a look at.

So where does today’s result leave us? Well PAOK are still first in the playoffs with 10 points, followed by AEK with 8 points and Panathinaikos with 7 (Panionios have only managed to pick up one point until now). Really, its still very open at the top with two games left to play so anything could happen.

Aris 74-69 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby with tags , , , , on May 25, 2016 by alexaek

So close to finishing the season off and cementing ourselves in 3rd place, but we instead let Aris get the better of us despite playing in an empty arena. We had a number of key players out due to injury and suspension, so we did well all things considered but we simply weren’t able to hold Aris off towards the end.

Its too bad really since it would have been nice to end the series with three straight wins, but I still feel like we have the advantage. Aris need to win the next two games which is something they certainly can do, but I feel like for the first time all season, we’ve finally proven that we can be equal to, if not better than, Aris. I believe the next game is back in Athens, so that’s something which can definitely give a boost to us but I really I think the best we can do is make sure we stay calm and play the way we all know the team is capable of. On a good day, we’re solid defensively and make the key baskets we need to. We’ll obviously need to keep an eye on former AEK player Vasilis Symtsak, he had a great game today with 22 points and 10 rebounds and was key to so many of Aris’ attacks. We give him an inch of space and the results could be devastating for us.

A big day for our football team today (April 26th) as we face PAO in OAKA. We win this and we’re back in it with a good chance of getting first in the playoffs. We lose and its pretty much over for us. The team wouldn’t have had much of a chance to recover from Monday’s game, but Zuculini is available again for us so he could be a useful option off the bench if hes ready. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing Pekhart in the starting XI, giving Djebbour a chance to come off the bench. I’m not his biggest fan by any means, but he’s been pretty pivotal to some of our successes lately so I feel like he could be a great impact sub if we need him. Otherwise, we all know how useless he can be when fatigue gets the better of him.

Panathinaikos 3-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Panathinaikos, PAOK, Playoffs with tags , , , , on May 23, 2016 by alexaek

Three games in six days, I’m really not sure whose bright idea that was. Regardless, the effects were apparent today and there was little the team could do to hold off PAO. I’m not trying to make excuses for the team, but who can expect better when they play a Cup final, followed by a game against Panionios three days later and then an away derby three days after that.

We were poor today in every way possible. We couldn’t string together more than two passes without giving the ball away far too easily, we were beaten to every lose ball by a PAO player, and our defense simply couldn’t handle the pace and strength of their opponents. I’m sure the team tried, but they couldn’t get anything going. It was only once Leto was subbed off that PAO’s attack became less efficient and we finally had a couple chances to move forward.

Of course it doesn’t help that Manolas still hasn’t returned as manager, and both Vargas and Simoes but either way, this was one game that we’ll want to put behind us as soon as possible. The sooner we can put the game behind us the better since just three days from now, on Friday the 26th, we play PAO again but this time at OAKA. Thats right, that’s another game within three days, followed by the game against PAOK three days after that, and the game against Panionios two days later.

The more I look at this schedule, the less I can understand it. Once all is over and done with, AEK would have played six games in less than two weeks. And why? Because EPO and the Superleague are two of the most incompetent organizations ever to have been involved in the sport of football. This could have all been avoided had EPO just stuck with the referees that they had agreed to use for the Cup final but instead, Gritzikis and his entourage decided to act like a bunch of children so that he could have things his way.

We’ve all known this for years, but this year’s playoffs have once again proven how much of a joke this whole system is. The fact that the Superleague continues to apply it and somehow believes it is good for the sport is beyond me.

Anyways, thats enough for my little rant (for now). You can see the highlights below but there isn’t much to take from it all. All I can hope for is that we can turn things around for the next three games since we still have a shot of getting 2nd. Having two home derbies in a row is the best shot we’ll have of getting maximum points. All I can hope for is that we get a decent crowd at OAKA for these games.

http://aek365.novasports.gr

Catching Up…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Transfer Rumor with tags , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2016 by alexaek

There was a mix up with our new internet provider here at home and so I had no connection to the web from about Friday morning until now. I am happy to report though that everything is up and running very smoothly, but this now means I have some catching up to do on the AEK news. For starters, heres a brief summary:

-We won our game against Panionios, 1-0 courtesy of Mantalos

-We also won our second game against Aris for third place in the basketball league by a score of 89-84

-Reports are suggesting that we’re very close to singing Olympiakos target Tasos Bakasetas (would be a great signing if this is true)

So, I didn’t get to watch the game against Panionios since I was working (though I should get to watch our game tomorrow), but it seems like we played pretty well from what I saw during the highlights. We had a few players out such as Barbosa and Vargas, but it sounded like Platellas made a great impression, despite having not played for a while now. Particularly good news since we could really use him in some of the upcoming games.

Seemed like a pretty good game with chances on both sides, as was to be expected since Panionios have been a pretty strong side lately. Worth noting that the officiating was pretty terrible with two clear penalties not awarded to us (not to mention the fact that Panionios should have recieved a red card as well). Its too bad the officiating was once again a talking point, since it was generally pretty good in the cup final. Thankfully we still got away with the win, as I’m sure the complaints would have been even worse had the missed penalty calls cost us a point or three.

The win puts us back in control of our own destiny after Panathinaikos and PAOK tied 1-1 in Athens. With our win, we are now first with 5 points, followed by Panathinaikos and PAOK on 4, and Panionios on 1.

 

Our basketball game against Aris seemed like it was a pretty exciting one. We started off well, going ahead early on, but something I’ve gotten very used to over the seasons started to happen. That’s right, I started to see our lead slowly but surely shrink until Aris managed to tie up the game. Luckily for us we managed to keep Aris at bay while also managing to sink a good number of our own shots but the excitement didn’t end there. Towards the end of the match there were some scuffles on the court, likely a result of nerves since Aris realised they were about to find themseleves down 2-0 in the series. To add to the drama, the officials ultimately decided to eject the benches of both teams as well as two players who were on the court at the time of the events, leading to only three players per team being on the court for the final moments of the game. To be honest, I don’t really know myself what happened; who hit who, who started what. The highlights below are unfortunately a bit inconclusive.

 

So as I also mentioned above, AEK365 is reporting that we are very close to agreeing with both Panionios and Bakasetas. They’ve even gone ahead and made the claim that the singing will be happening on the 1st of June. He’s had a fantastic season, and was also a target of Olympiakos so if this does go through, it will be a victory for us in more ways than one. Like someone commented on AEK365, with Olympiakos losing the cup final and facing a tough challenge of overcoming PAO for the basketball title, losing the singing of Bakasetas to AEK would only help to make this week even worse for Olympiakos supporters. I certainly hope it happens for that reason alone. Plus, hes a pretty decent player…