Archive for January, 2017

Xanthi 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Football, Jimenez, Singings with tags , , , on January 29, 2017 by alexaek

Tough game against tough opposition..

Playing Xanthi, a team who currently sits third in the league, is never easy. It becomes even tougher when your team goes down a player just a few minutes in as was the case with AEK over the weekend. Only six minutes were played in the game when Galo was sent off for taking down a Xanthi player as he was in on goal. It was a tough blow to us, but the ref’s decision was the right one to make, in my opinion.

We never quite managed to recover from the setback, and it didn’t help that Jimenez had to make a change shortly after the sending off in order to get another defender on, but it sounds like the team did well to hold on to the draw after playing pretty much the entire match with ten players. Normally I would be disappointed with the draw since we’ve had so many this season, but at least it meant  we managed to keep Xanthi from drawing even further away from us.

Judging from the player ratings on AEK365’s site, it seems like we defended well, but it also helps that Barkas was having another great game. On more than one occasion did he make some huge saves to keep us in the game, thankfully so since Xanthi seemed to have the better chances.

 

Sergio Araujo signs for AEK

We managed to make an important signing this past week after adding Argentinian striker Sergio Araujo to the team. Its only until the end of the season, but there is an option for us to keep him for another season if I read correctly. He sounds like a pretty promising player and at 25 years old, I’d like to think his best years are yet to come.

 

 

 

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AEK 2-0 Asteras Tripolis

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by alexaek

Good start for Jimenez

As I mentioned in my last post, rumours were floating around saying that Manolo Jimenez was on his way to Athens for his second stint in charge of AEK. The next day, those rumours turned out to be true as Jimenez signed a contract which will keep him with the team until at least the end of the season.

Thankfully for both Jimenez himself as well as the team, the Spaniard’s first game in charge ended with a comfortable 2-0 win over a team that has given us a hard time these past couple seasons. Goals from both Pekhart and Mantalos (both now have five goals this season) were enough to seal the win though by all accounts it sounds like it was a solid team effort all around. Even players like Simoes and Johansson, players who have been having mediocre seasons compared to what we’ve come to expect of them, turned up and played a phenomenal game. In fact, Johansson ended up with the MVP award for the game, something which I pretty much felt he deserved every game last season compared to the current season.

I’m not sure if its just because of the change, or if Jimenez has already managed to bring some positive change to the team. I feel like theres definitely something about Jimenez that can really give the club a boost for the rest of the season: hes passionate, he knows the team, and he has some solid experience. On top of that, I feel like he would be a much more motivating figure in the dressing room than someone like Ketsbaia was.

Apologies in advance for the poor quality highlights, they were all I could find on YouTube from the game.

Comfortable win for basketball team as well

Our basketball team played earlier in the weekend against Apollonas Patras and came away from the game with a convincing 88-69 win. As has been the case for most of the season, the win means we still sit comfortably in third, one point behind PAO and two behind Olympiakos.

Busy Day for AEK

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on January 18, 2017 by alexaek

Bad news first…

We played a league game today against Panaitolikos on a pitch that resembled a swamp more than anything else. How we were allowed to play on that pitch when the ball barely rolled at all is beyond me, but the game went ahead regardless.

The final result? A 3-2 loss. Surprised? I’m not. Its embarrassing that its gotten to the point where I half expect us to lose. And not without reason either. We haven’t won an away game since the 10th of October, when we beat Larissa 2-1. We haven’t even won a home game since the 10th of December, more than a month ago…

I didn’t watch the match and I’m not exactly upset that I didn’t. From what I read it sounded as though Barkas made some tragic mistakes after playing the game of his life on Sunday. Some other things worth noting from the game include the fact that Almeida finally scored again and that two of the goals scored for Panaitolikos were scored by our former player, Grigoris Makos.

What was probably more noteworthy from the game was what happened afterwards, when Morais announced at his press conference that he was leaving the team. Thats right, another coach gone.

His departure was quickly confirmed by the club a little while after, around the same time that rumours began circulating that Manolo Jimenez was ready to take over. Jimenez is, of course, the same coach who was in charge when we won the Cup a few years ago.

How do I feel about all of this? Well of course it isn’t confirmed, but at this point I’m kind of indifferent. I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t expect much from the club this year so if Jimenez is the guy who can miraculously turn things around, great. If not, I’m sure things can’t be any worse than they are now.

Time for some good news.

We played against Partizan for the final match of the Basketball Champions League group stages today. Our qualification to the next round was guaranteed before the match started, but a win against Partizan would have cemented 2nd place for us. Key three pointers by players such as Ukic (yet again) ensured that we left Belgrade with the win and 2nd place clinched. 69-65 was the final score which meant that though we had a similar record to a few other clubs in the group, we clinched second due to a better record among those teams tied for second.

What happens from this point on all depends on who we face in the next rounds, meaning clinching 2nd was all the more important as it allows us to face an easier opponent. I’m not sure yet who we might possibly face but I would say that aside from a few teams, there isn’t anybody who we couldn’t be competitive against. I can’t say how far we’ll make it in the tournament, but I feel pretty good about our chances of at least making it to one more round. From then on, who knows. All I know is that after all this time, it feels great to see an AEK basketball team that is competitive in Europe once again.

Derby Weekend Disappoints

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by alexaek

Stalemate in the Athens Derby

Going into the match against PAO this weekend, I was kind of expecting a draw. Both teams haven’t been having a great season and ultimately its safe to say that the squads for either team have proven to be equally disappointing this season.

I’ll take the 0-0 draw because to be honest, I would not have been surprised if we found a way to lose this one. Its unfortunate though that we didn’t come away with more since, from what I read, we had quite a few chances during the first half. In fact it sounded as though we controlled much of the game until closer towards the end so its too bad that we couldn’t have snatched a goal and maybe lifted the spirits of our players a bit. On the other hand though, Barkas did make some incredible saves to deny PAO a few goals, so it does seem like it evens out in the end.

A couple things worth noting:

-Terrible offsides called against both sides

-Terrible defense from both sides

-Amazing goaltending from both sides (though special mention for Barkas, as some of those saves were outstanding)

I don’t have too much to say about the game, I was on a train in the middle of New York and the wifi was nonexistent (though I expected this going into the ride). Ultimately the game was what I expected it would be, and one of those “derbies”that are better off being forgotten.

I do miss the days of derbies like this one:

 

More Disappointment in Thessaloniki

Our basketball team had one of its most important games of the season this past Saturday as they took on Aris in Thessaloniki for a chance to make it to the Cup final. The last time we played in a Cup Final? April of 2001, when we beat PAO 66-64.

The game this weekend was far more entertaining than the football match back in Athens but in the end, we were painfully eliminated when Aris won the game with two seconds left on the clock. It was a far closer game than when we last played Aris and beat them comfortably, but its safe to say that both sides were expecting a close match. 77-76 was the final score, meaning Aris will now go on to face PAO in the final.

Tripolis 3-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , on January 9, 2017 by alexaek

At least we managed to score this time..

Sadly though, and as I feared, we didn’t even manage to come away with a point. To be fair to the team, the pitch had a noticeable layer of snow throughout and from what I read during the game, the players struggled at times to get the ball to move well.

Something worth noting from the match was that Ognen Vranjes, our recently signed Bosnian centreback, received a red card during the game (his first appearance for us). Its also worth noting that Pekhart scored both our goals, further cementing his role as our primary goal scorer now that Aravidis seems to be out of the team’s plans and Almeida is still struggling to find the form from his first match of the season. With Pekhart’s two goals over the weekend, he has now scored six of our last ten goals scored.

The result certainly doesn’t help Morais if he wants to remain a part of the team. I’m not saying I believe we need a new coach right away, since I think a lot of the blame falls on the players as well. However, it definitely feels like something isn’t right. I read articles about how the atmosphere within the team isn’t at its best and when I see people like Johansson struggle to seem at all comfortable on the pitch, I start to wonder myself whether we might need to change things up yet again.

Normally I don’t like seeing us change managers as soon as things start to go bad, but at this point I’m starting to feel like it can’t really hurt. We’re currently sixth in the league and show no sign of improving. I’m starting to wonder what the worst that could happen is at this point. Do we change managers and drop more points? Its not like we have much to lose. The teams above us all seem to be finding it easier to get points and the teams behind us are right on our tails with the possibility of overcoming us with just one win.

 

Better result for our basketball team

It might not have been a great weekend for our football team, but our basketball team managed to get the result they were looking for in Athens over the weekend, beating Aris 81-61. An extremely important win considering only two points currently separate us and Aris, and a great momentum builder going into one of our final Champions League group stage games tomorrow.

 

Cup game cancelled

Our cup game against Levadeiakos, scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed due to the weather. Snow and cold has been affecting much of Greece for the past few days, with even a number of islands being affected by considerable snowfall. At the moment I’m not quite sure when the game will be played, but I will try and post here when I find out.

 

AEK 0-0 Panaitolikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Greek Super League with tags , on January 4, 2017 by alexaek

Is one goal too much to ask for?

If one were to look at only the statistics today and ignore the score, they might have a rather different impression of the game. After all, you would expect a team with 71% possession and 19 goal attempts (with 11 on target), to manage to score a goal or two.

So what can be going so wrong for us now that we’re at the point where we can create 19 goal attempts but not even get one in the back of the net? To be fair, Panaitolikos played a very stubborn game defensively. They clearly came into this game planning on defending and hoping for a counter attack or two. Every man was behind the ball and their box was crowded, to the point where even getting a shot through all the traffic was nearly impossible.

It also didn’t help that Kyriakidis, Panaitolikos’ keeper, seemed especially determined to not let anything in. Any chance that was within reach was stopped by him and it became more and more evident as the game wore on that it would take something special to beat him.

Still, despite the resilient defending by Panaitolikos and Kyriakidis’ amazing performance in goal, a team like AEK, a team that might one day hope to challenge for the title, should be able to score when they manage to control so much of the game. Having said that, we are clearly not there yet and until we stop signing mediocre players, we’ll be stuck at our current for a while still. Watching today’s game, it was clear that no player was able to rise to the occasions and single handedly make the difference when it was needed. Now, I’m not saying we need to play more individually and less as a team, but we need someone who can make the difference when needed, someone who can spark some life into the game, someone like Scocco (or, at this point, even Rivaldo). Either that or we need a team that is able to play so well together that it gets to the point where they go into almost every match as clear favourites (I’m thinking of teams like our 2007 roster, with players like Sokratis, Dellas, Zikos, Kafes, and Liberopoulos all playing so well as a team).

At this point, we have a team that doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing. We managed to control possession well today and the ball was moving around nicely. There were a few things though which especially frustrated me today. Up front, we had no shape, no plan, nothing. Panaitolikos were fine with sitting men in the box and creating traffic which is understandable. We as a team need to be able to adjust to that but there were no adjustments being made at all. Our attackers were rarely venturing out of their zones and offering support, they rarely made any runs, and they lacked the creativity that was needed to break open the defense.

I was also frustrated by the lack of support after a pass was made. So many times a player would make a pass and then just stand there, as if they did not know where to go next. Obviously we were going to be easy to defend against when play so statically, not providing any moving parts for the Panaitolikos defense to keep track of. It also didn’t help that our plays were so predictable. Most of the time the ball ended up at Galo’s feet as he tried to carry it down the line before sending in a cross or, if the play wasn’t started by him, we would hopefully pass the ball around the edge of the box before letting a shot go which more often than not would be blocked by the wall of bodies created by Panaitolikos. It was frustrating to see the team struggle so desperately to find a way through.

Tough match this weekend

To make matters worse for us, we play away against Tripolis this weekend. If we play like we did today, I can’t see this being an easy game for us, especially since playing in Tripolis is never a walk in the park for any Superleague team. A win is desperately needed at this point because the teams beneath us are quickly catching up. I know its still early but at this point I’m starting to wonder whether we can even hold on to a playoff spot…