AEK 0-0 Panaitolikos

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…

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