Archive for February, 2017

AEK 3-0 Larissa

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , on February 27, 2017 by alexaek

How long has it been since we’ve seen an AEK team playing with this much confidence and organization? I know, I might be getting carried away a bit, but its hard not too. We have an AEK team that is finally able to go into every game as favourites again, we have an AEK team that is finding ways to score and most importantly, for the first time in a while we have a team that is getting win after win.

Jimenez first and foremost deserves some credit for finding a way to turn this team around. Our last loss, the 3-2 loss to Panaitolikos, was the last game before Jimenez took control of the team. Since then, we’ve played nine games with three of those games ending as draws and six ending as wins for AEK. What is more impressive though is the fact that in the nine games that Jimenez has been in charge, we’ve scored twenty one goals and conceded only two. How that is even possible considering how poor our form was before Jimenez’s arrival is beyond me, but I’m not going to question what is clearly a working formula.

Yesterday’s game was yet another example of how things seem to finally be looking up for us. We opened the scoring with a header from Pekhart, something which I was especially happy to see since it had been a while since Pekhart scored and I was starting to wonder when he’d find his scoring ways again.

The scoring continued with yet another header, this time from Chygrynskiy. Despite being out for quite a while due to injury, the Ukrainian centre back returned in the best possible way with his goal. It wasn’t only Chygrynkskiy though who was returning to action and finding the net on their first appearance in a while. Almeida, the player who showed so much promise on the first game of the season only to see injuries affect his form drastically also returned to action and found the back of the net. As with the previous two goals scored during the game, Almeida’s was also scored with a header though this time following a beautiful ball in by Ajdarevic and a perfectly timed run by Almeida.

A couple things worth noting:

  • We still haven’t seen Vanjes and Chygrynskiy play together, but I can only imagine how solid our defense will be once their both playing alongside each other. All credit to Lambropoulos and Kolovetsios though for doing what has been needed of them
  • We managed to get yesterday’s result despite having a number of key players in the starting XI. In fact, almost our whole bench featured players who would normally be starters (Barkas, Araujo, Chygrynskiy, Ajdarevic, Simoes, and Almeida). This says a lot about the depth we all knew this team had. It seems as though we can finally really take advantage of it.

 

We’re clearly not in the title race at this stage of the game (though Panionios is causing quite the stir as they are starting to get awfully close to Olympiakos after a historic 1-0 win in Piraeus) but with the form we’ve managed to find lately, I’m at least feeling pretty good about our chances in the playoffs. With our recent wins we now find ourselves two points behind Panathinaikos and four behind PAOK and that can all change depending on how we fare when we play our remaining two derbies. Its never as much fun when you’re playing for 2nd rather than going for the title, but at least we now have a team that we can enjoy watching from now until the rest of the season. Who knows, maybe the playoffs might even be exciting to watch this year.

Highlights of the goals below:

And another behind the scenes video, this time from yesterday’s game against Larissa. I’ve really enjoyed the behind the scenes clips this season:

 

AEK 1-0 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football, Jimenez with tags , , , on February 20, 2017 by alexaek

A promising start with Manolo has gotten even better after we beat Olympiakos at OAKA for the third time in a row. Not only was yesterday’s result a satisfying one because we beat a team that has proven itself to be run by hypocritical sore losers, but it also put us back in playoff spots after months outside of the top 5.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly worried before the start of the game. I mean, you can never know how a derby will turn out but I felt like there was no reason we couldn’t come away with a good result. We’ve shown the past two times we played them in OAKA that on any day Olympiakos are a very beatable team, especially when the officiating isn’t skewed in their favour.

Aside from a few brief spells in the first half, AEK were visibly the team that wanted the result more. I read before the game that Manolo had focused on getting the team to play a high pressure game, with a focus on giving Olympiakos as little space as possible, and it seemed clear to me that the players got the message. The pressure from the team was relentless and on a number of occasions we were able to easily regain possession after Olympiakos players were caught standing like pylons.

Aside from being the team that showed more pressure and drive, we were also the far more organized team along with being the team that was ready to risk a bit in order to get some attacks started. Mantalos and Araujo were especially dangerous going forward with but overall we seemed eager to get bodies in the box. With a bit more luck we could have come away with a couple more goals too.

Our defense was pretty solid too with Lambropoulos having the game of his life. His positioning was perfect and the commentators commented that he had a very “smart” game overall, making challenges when it was the right time to do so, but holding back when it was appropriate too. It was great to see considering he hasn’t always had the best of luck in previous derbies.

We still have a lot of work to do, but yesterday’s win is the perfect way to lead us into the playoffs. With the way we played yesterday, and perhaps a bit more discipline in front of net, I expect us to into our remaining derbies with Panathinaikos and PAOK confident that we’ll get three points from each of those games, as we ended up doing last season. We have some other tough games coming up as well including against Platanias and Panionios, so we’ll need to be in the best form we can possibly be in as there is still a very real chance that we can drop some points and risk our spot in the playoffs. But with yesterday’s result, we’ve proven that we should be able to get close to the maximum possible points from our nine remaining games.

The atmosphere was, as it always is during these derbies, fantastic. We even received compliments from the refs who, aside from a few notes about flares, mentioned no troubling incidents. A few Olympiakos officials though (most notably a typically whiny Savvas Theodoridis) of course had plenty of complaints about the officiating, claiming that it was a disgrace for Greek football. There are a number of videos on YouTube showing previous favourable calls that Olympiakos has received in past derbies, but I guess he instead choses to turn a blind eye towards those and instead focus on yesterday’s game.

What he was complaining about I’m not entirely sure. The red card for Botias was entirely reasonable, and I noticed very few questionable calls from the officials for either side, apart from one instance when the linesman allowed Araujo to continue a run which was offside. Anyone without red tinted glasses would have noticed that Olympiakos simply weren’t good enough yesterday, but I guess its easier to criticize a few officials than it is to get your team to play the way they need to.

Anyways, enough commenting on them. There’s been enough of that going on in Greece today…

Highlights:

Behind the scenes:

Iraklis 2-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Jimenez with tags , , , on February 14, 2017 by alexaek

Important points dropped in Thessaloniki

Well, the good news is that we remain unbeaten under Jimenez. Bad news, though, is that we desperately needed all three points from yesterday’s game. Unfortunately, we only came away with one which keeps us three points away from a playoff spot.

Possibly the worst part about the result yesterday would have to be the fact that we could have come away with a win had our goaltending been tighter. The first goal was a tough one, and I could see any keeper missing that from time to time. The second goal for Iraklis though should never have happened and with some more careful goaltending Iraklis never even would have had a chance on the play. I find it even more frustrating that Barkas would commit such an awful mistake after almost conceeding on an earlier mistake.

The way I look at all this though is that I’d rather see it happen against Iraklis than against Olympiakos this weekend. Hopefully Barkas would have learned some valuable lessons from yesterday, as I’m sure he will, so that we have every chance we can of getting a good result on sunday.

 

Platanias 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Jimenez with tags , , on February 9, 2017 by alexaek

Critical Cup quarter-final clean sheet..

Well, it wasn’t the high scoring affair that we all would have hoped for. In fact it was a pretty disappointing match from what I’ve read.

Having said that, it did sound like Jimenez was experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation, so its somewhat understandable that the players didn’t settle into the new system right away. Why he would try something different I couldn’t say. Afterall we’ve been getting some decent results up to now with Jimenez in control. But at least it didn’t backfire completely on us.

It has to be said that while its too bad we didn’t score, its also just as important that we didn’t concede. We’ve looked good at home since Jimenez took over so bringing this match back to Athens on even footing definitely works in our favour.

And the goals just keep coming..

Posted in AEK Players, Greek Football, AEK, AEK Athens FC, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , , on February 5, 2017 by alexaek

AEK 6-0 Veria

Just a few days after beating Levadeiakos 6-0 in the Cup, our attacking form carried over to our league game today against Veria. Thats right, two 6-0 games in a row, bringing our total goals scored to 15 after the first five games for Jimenez. Not only that, but we’ve managed to not concede a single goal since he took over, an impressive feat considering we were conceding a little too easily prior to his time with the team.

Aside from the game against Tripolis, we’ve faced pretty weak opposition since hes been in charge. Regardless, the change is evident and whether we’re able to compete consistently with the teams above us remains to be seen doesn’t take away from the fact that the team has seemed to have found confidence and understanding on the pitch that simply wasn’t there before.

Today’s lineup featured some changes from the lineup against Levadeiakos but it seemed to work just as well. Notably, Bakasetas wasn’t in the starting lineup today as our attacking midfield instead consisted of Mantalos, Araujo, and Christodolopoulos. Also of note was the fact that Pekhart was the striker with Araujo instead playing a support role today. From what I was hearing on the radio, it seemed to work quite well, even though surprisingly enough, both Pekhart and Araujo did not end up on the scoring sheet.

The MVP of the match was, without much surprise, Christodolopoulos. He opened the scoring with a fantastic finish and finished the match up with the final goal just before the whistle. Our other scorers were Lambropoulos and Mantalos, while Veria also scored an own goal.

Overall it sounded like the entire team played well today. Veria might not have pressured us very much at all throughout the game but it didn’t sound like we had a weak link out there, something which I’m not used to seeing with this team so far this season.

I’ve posted a YouTube video of the highlights below but seeing as the quality is quite awful, you can also see higher quality highlights on the NovaSports site: http://aek365.novasports.gr

 

EDIT: I completely forgot to mention the goal by Vranjes. He has been pretty solid for us and as others have commented online, our defense when he is finally paired with Chyrgrynski will be pretty impressive.

AEK 6-0 Levadeiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2017 by alexaek

Perfect start for Araujo

Just days after singing for us, Araujo not only managed to find himself in the starting XI, but he also managed to get his name on the scoreboard (twice). A great way to start his time with us, though credit must also go the rest of the team. They came out strong from the start of the match and carried their momentum through to the final whistle.

Aside from Araujo we also saw goals from Bakasetas, Kolovetsios, Vargas, and Galanopoulos, all players who contributed to AEK scoring six goals against a 1st division team for the first time since 2003. The win, of course, also books our spot in the next round where we will face Platanias.

Playing against Platanias certainly won’t be easy. They are, afterall, just one point behind us in the league. Having said that, I’m confident we can advance even further, especially considering that after four games with Manolo in charge, we have scored nine goals and conceded none.

Its worth noting that even though Mantalos didn’t play today, it didn’t seem as though he was missed at all. With both Bakasetas and Vargas having great games, we managed to get a number of good shots and crosses into the box. If they can both keep playing this way, part of me hopes that Manolo lets them continue playing where they played today (even if that means Mantalos occasionally playing a less prominent role).