AEK 1-0 Olympiakos
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…
Behind the scenes: