Archive for August, 2016

End of August Signings and Friendlies

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, football, Friendlies, Singings with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2016 by alexaek

Its been a few weeks since my last post and while the league has yet to start (who knows when it will), there has still been plenty going on with the team. I’ll start off with three friendlies we had not too long ago: 0-0 with Atromitos, 1-2 away win against Aris, and a surprised 1-3 home loss to Apollon.

Mantalos had a fantastic game against Aris, scoring both goals including a fantastic overhead shot:

 

Our 1-3 loss to Apollon came as quite a shock but I’d rather we have this kind of shock from a friendly rather during the league. I didn’t get to watch the game but it sounds like it was evident that we still have some big gaps, at least as far as second string players are concerned. Ketsbaia seemed to use this match to give some of the bench players a go and some of them didn’t quite in the performance we would have hoped for. If theres one good thing to take from the match though, its the fact that Patito has quite the shot (see one minute in for his beautiful goal):

We’ve also been busy off the pitch these past few days with some signings. The first was the signing of Greek national team midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. Not a big name signing by any means, but its a good move from the team as far as I’m concerned. He still has a few good years ahead of him, he’s shown himself to be a reliable and consistent player, and hes Greek. A very solid move to help boost our midfield and provide us with more options.

At the same time as our signing of Christodoulopoulos, we began to show interest in English centre back Joleon Lescott. He might be getting a bit old at 34 years, and he hasn’t had the best seasons of his career lately, but hes an experienced player and a left footed centre back, the type of player Ketsbaia has been wanting for a while now. Whether hes been in good form or not, a centre back with the EPL experience that Lescott has should have no problem handling most players in the Superleague and while I was hoping for someone a bit younger, I think he’ll definitely be a good option for us. We already have a fairly strong defense so far and with Lescott it can only get stronger.

He hasn’t officially signed yet, but as I’m writing this he should be in a plane on his way to Athens. He’ll still have to go through a medical exam but but it seems like things are very close to being finalised. Its worth noting that Italian side Pescara were also keen on signing Lescott, but AEK managed to boost their offer even further to persuade Lescott to chose us over newly promoted Pescara. Hopefully he becomes a signing we can look back on with satisfaction rather than becoming another one of the many “bams” we sign who ultimately do very little to help the team.

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AEK 4-0 Iraklis

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , , , on August 13, 2016 by alexaek

A convincing 4-0 win today for us in what was our last friendly before the start of the season. The match got off to a pretty slow start with little noteworthy action in the first half but that all changed when we scored 4 goals between the 49th and 71st minute.

I only managed to catch the last ten minutes of the match but from what I could see, it looks like we might be in for some good performances from Patito. Its still early but I’m already starting to see some similarities with Scocco (and I’m not the only one who has been seeing this). Hes the kind of player we’ve been lacking recently, especially after Buonannotte never managed to settle into the team.

Almeida is also starting to impress people, especially after scoring two goals in two friendlies (he also scored in our 2-1 friendly win against Trikala during the week). If his form keeps up, then I think we might just have one of the most effective offenses in the league. Afterall, we still have Aravidis, Pekhart, and Bakasetas as well up front with Patitio, Barbosa, Mantalos, and Vargas providing support behind them. There really aren’t many offenses in the league that I can think of which could compete with that.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a good quality highlight video from the game, so these recordings from someone’s screen will have to do for now.

Almeida’s great header for the 1st goal:

The 2-0 from Mantalos:

Beautifully taken header from Pekhart for 3-0:

4-0 from Bakasetas:

AEK 0-1 Saint Etienne

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League with tags , , , on August 4, 2016 by alexaek

I really thought we had a chance of winning this one, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. The team deserves credit first and foremost though; we went into this game as clear underdogs, if only because of our lack of European football in recent years. After the two games though, its clear that neither team really stood out as significantly better than the other as it was only one lucky goal which made the difference.

We didn’t have luck on our side for this match ever since the news broke out that Johansson might be missing the game. Late last night I read that the outlook for him had become more positive and there was hope he might just manage to be match fit for the game but in the end he wasn’t, and we suffered greatly without him on the pitch. To be honest, I don’t think Ketsbaia handled his absence and you’ll probably find most people saying the same thing. To try and fill the massive void left by Johansson, Ketsbaia started with Lambropoulos in the middle along aside Simoes. This clearly turned out to be a rather poor choice as the gap in midfield was a big part of why we struggled to get a rhythm going. I know many people have been saying that Tzanetopoulos should have started in Lambropoulos’ place but I’m not so sure we would have been any better off. I know Tzanetopoulos has played that position a couple times before, but that was against far easier opposition. It was just as big a risk with both players and considering Lambropoulos looked alright in pre-season friendlies, I can’t blame Ketsbaia too much for his choice.

Its unfortunate that we had to bow out of Europe so early on, especially when we had such a good chance of going through just before the game started. Dwelling on the past and thinking about what could have been can only get us so far though so I think its worth looking at some of the positives for the game. Though I only managed to catch bits of it, one player who absolutely stood out for me (again) was Chygrynskiy. He has been proving himself lately and today was no exception. I went to watch Roma play a friendly yesterday against Montreal and watching Chygrynskiy after watching Roma less than 24 hours ago really made me feel as if I was watching De Rossi again. I know De Rossi and Chygrynskiy play two different positions but the way they both handle things on the pitch, in a calm and no-nonsense kind of way, really stood out to me.

The other biggest positive I can take from the game is, yet again, our supporters. Considering the match was on a weekday and in the peak of the summer holiday season, it was a pretty respectable sized crowd. What made me even happier to hear though was how the team was applauded at the end of the match. At the end of the day, the team is still building and transitioning from the turmoil of the past four years and it makes me happy to see that now, when the team needs it most, our supporters are still for them. We might not have the strongest AEK we’ve seen in years, but we definitely have a decent team that can beat any other team in the league on a good day. Combine that with solid support throughout the season and I think we could be in for some great games.

Highlights from today:

And for anyone who hasn’t seen the match in France yet, you can catch it in its entirety here: