AEK 0-0 PAOK

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.

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