AEK 0-1 Saint Etienne

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:

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17 Responses to “AEK 0-1 Saint Etienne”

  1. My question is: how can greek football go on with the economic crisis of Greece?

    • Good question. I guess a lot of it is the fact that the owners have bussiness interests that aren’t as greatly affected by the Greek markets, whether thats with shipping or oil as is the case with people like Melissanidis. But the quality of Greek football has really taken a hit lately. Players rarely get paid, its hard to attract good foreigners aside from the older ones who have limited options. Our clubs can’t do well in Europe, National team is also struggling. We’re holding on, but just barely.

      Luckily teams like AEK and the other bigger clubs who have owners with enough money that they can afford to barely keep the clubs going are still around, but its sad to look at the fate of other Greek clubs, historic clubs who have barely survived the past few years. OFI, Larissa, Iraklis, Aris, these teams are all historic and have a huge place in the history of Greek football, but they’re barely holding on these days.

      It doesn’t help that people dont have money and time to attend games anymore either. I think at the end of the day though it comes down to supporters loving their teams so much that the idea of some of these teams folding all together just cant even be considered. Fans would rather see their teams limp through the crisis rather than fold all together.

      • Nicholas Nehamas Says:

        Oly are in big trouble too now. Seems Marinakis prefers his new plaything in England.

      • Oly are definitely in trouble! Could be the start of a big change for Greece? Without a Kokalis or Marinakis, that team is nothing. Maybe now we’ll finally have the chance to see an even league. If things continue like this, it could be a very close league up top with AEK, PAO, Oly, and PAOK all fighting it out. Wishful thinking maybe? All I know is that I would love to finally see a close league at the top, even if it doesn’t mean seeing AEK win every time.

      • Chris Zap Says:

        That was an impressive showing by AEK fans for that game, 35,000 came out to see the team in August?! Usually most Athenians are gone in August. Anyway, this shows that AEK has the supporters and the fan base and they do come out to support the team during the big games!

      • Yeah for sure. If the league was cleaner too I could see AEK consistently getting 30K plus, even for smaller league games.

  2. Nicholas Nehamas Says:

    spot on post. Ketsbaia should take blame for this one, but also the owner. How are we in a position where a central defender must step up when a starting midfielder is injured? The decision to let Anakoglou and Cordero walk looks very silly now. We have too many wingers and not enough midfielders. We must sign a top quality CM before the transfer window shuts.

    • Absolutely, the gap in the middle is painfully obvious now and one that was clearly overlooked. Especially when we consider that eventually, either Simoes or Johansson will leave the team since its only a matter of time until a bigger team makes an offer for one of them that we cant refuse.

      Letting Anakoglou go was terrible, we should have loaned him out and let him develop some more. Lots of potential there that we let go. Cordero I kind of understand since he struggled to stay fit and healthy and seemed to me to be more of a liability than anything else. But to let him go completely without a suitable replacement was a terrible oversight on management’s part.

    • Chris Zap Says:

      I was disappointed to see Cordero go, especially that he stuck with us during those miserable depressing years in those bottom divisions.

  3. Still getting over this game, 4 days after it now……should have played Mandalos along side Simoes, and started Ara and Hugo…..send out a statement from the start…….but, as they say, hindsight is 20/20…..Great signs for the season, backs look rock solid, mid looks ok …..Pao will be the team to beat….between us and them for the title

    • Chris Zap Says:

      They wrote that the coach was afraid and he showed it. PAO does look good indeed, they are making me nervous!! But it should be a nice close championship this season.

      • They do look good. But with Patito and Hugo in form, I can see us beating them and any other team in the league. It will be tight between us, but thats a good thing. Its been a while since we’ve seen genuinely close competition with teams playing at a decent level.

    • Backs really do look solid dont they? I’m loving watching the Ukrainian CB, one of the best CBs Ive seen in AEK since Dellas/Kyrgiakos/Majstorovic

      • Nicholas Nehamas Says:

        oh my god, I forgot Majstorovic. That guy was pretty beastly. Whatever happened to him?

      • He really was wasn’t he?? Wouldn’t mind a player like him on AEK again. I’ll always remember the header he scored against Benfica. Was in the stadium that night, how could I ever forget a moment like that.

        Seems like he went to Celtic after us and then ended his career in Sweden. He played at some decent clubs throughout his career but I’m surprised he never ended up anywhere pretty big. I felt like he had the potential to do so.

      • Chris Zap Says:

        We had some impressive backs over the years, the ones you mentioned, but lets not forget Dellas, and Sokratis 🙂

      • For sure. We seem to be good at attracting/developing good CBs

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