Archive for the Derby Category

AEK 3-2 Olympiakos!!!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby with tags , , , , , , , on September 24, 2017 by alexaek

What a game! This is what derbies are all about. If there was any doubt prior to this game as to whether this team could legitimately challenge for the Championship, I think its safe to say that the doubt is now gone.

This game had it all. A great atmosphere, some great goals from both teams, some drama on and off the pitch, and one of the greatest AEK comebacks in recent memory. The excitement leading up to the match was huge, and the game lived up to it all.

Its worth remembering that this game wasn’t just about beating the most hated team in Greece. Winning this game means we now sit 5 points ahead of Olympiakos, alone in first place with 13 points.

All the talk leading up to the game was on the demand for tickets and while we might not have sold out OAKA, the crowd definitely made its presence felt. I don’t know the exact numbers but it looked like the crowd was anywhere between 35,000 to 40,000 strong.

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Its safe to say that nothing compares to the atmosphere of a derby. Photo from AEK365.com

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Photo from AEK365.com

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I thought the banner that originals made for today’s game looked particularly sharp. Photo from AEK365.com

 

As for the game itself, well, it was eventful. It had its ups and downs, it was unpredictable, and it was a very real reminder that this AEK team should be taken seriously by anyone who comes up against it. We started really well with plenty of pressure on the Olympiakos defense. It was clear from the get go which team wanted to win this game more and we had numerous chances early on to start the scoring early.

All the wind was taken out of our sails though when Olympiakos scored against the run of play. I’ll give Marin credit, his finish on the goal was real nice, but our defense fell asleep on that one. They should have been far more aware of the danger, especially considering that Marin is not a player to take lightly despite how Olympiakos might be playing. The first goal for Olympiakos came fairly early so we still had plenty of time to get back in the game, but we lost much of the momentum we built up earlier in the first half after they scored. We had our chances again but I started feeling like half time would be a blessing in disguise in the sense that it would give AEK a chance to regroup.

Unfortunately, any regrouping that might have been done during the break was quickly undone as Olympiakos scored again, this time just after the second half started. Again it was a pretty nice finish, but I feel like our defense could have done better then as well. To be fair to Anestis, there wasn’t much he could have done on either goal and he did make a huge save to keep us in the game earlier on as well.

Down 2-0, a lot of teams would have struggled to find a way back into the game. This AEK team is different though. Thankfully, we have a coach who knows how to read a situation well. At the start of the second half, he subbed on Livaja for Klonaridis, a move which proved to be critical. Klonaridis struggled to make any impact for the most of the game but Livaja brought new life to the team almost immediately.

We struggled to find a way past Kapino but eventually the breakthrough came in 64th minute when a beautifully controlled pass by Araujo found Lazaros alone in the box. Lazaros, who was easily the best player on the pitch today, put the shot away with a one timer that would ultimately open the flood gates.

It wasn’t a smooth road to the end however as some disturbances outside the pitch resulted in the police releasing numerous canisters worth of tear gas into the air. The wind carried the tear gas into the stadium itself leading to discomfort among supporters and players. Now I might not know what exactly was going on outside the pitch, and its certainly disappointing that events like that had to take place at a game like the one we saw today. However, it should be pointed out that perhaps the police could have dealt with the situation in a more suitable way rather than releasing large amounts of tear gas with about 40,000 mostly peaceful supporters just meters away.

Naturally, the tear gas resulted in the game being halted in the hopes that the air would clear enough. Thankfully it did and we were able to continue without too much of a break. It still took a little while for our next breakthrough to come but eventually it did in the 80th minute with some more magic from Lazaros. This time, he put the ball in the net from a free kick that was even prettier than the one he score against Rijeka. It was especially far from the area but he managed to take it so perfectly that there was no chance for Kapino to track its movement. We’ve seen many great free kick takers at AEK in the past like Rivaldo and Scocco but I’m not sure we’ll see a free kick more spectacular than the one we see today for quite a while.

At 2-2, I was quite honestly relieved. A draw would have been a disappointment, but at least it would have kept Olympiakos at bay. The team had other ideas though and it was clear they were going all in for the win. There was no reason for them not to though as Olympiakos were clearly stunned by what had happened and werent quite sure how to react. The fact that their manager got expelled from the game might or might not have made things worse for them but their nightmare really became reality when Mantalos tapped in a Livaja cross just before the 90 minute mark. It wasn’t the prettiest goal compared to what we saw earlier in the game, but it got the job done and ultimately sealed the three points and a remarkable comeback. The look on the faces of the Olympiakos players said it all as did the delirium coming from the AEK supporters.

Theres been lots of promise and hype surrounding AEK this season and this game validated a lot of it. As many people have said, it was one of the best derbies of recent years, up there with the 4-4 Cup final. We saw beautiful goals, nice flowing football, a great crowd, and even the officiating was pretty good (though I feel like Olympiakos could have received a red card earlier in the game). The icing on the cake is the fact that this game has also turned the situation for Olympiakos from bad to worse. Their coach has officially been fired and their collective mental state could not be any worse now going into their game against Juventus.

For us AEK supporters however, this game might be a glimpse of whats to come for AEK this season. If all goes well, we’ll see much more of what we saw today and if thats the case, this might very well be the best season AEK has seen since the early 90s. With a new stadium on its way and progress being made on the construction every day, its pretty safe to say that these are good times to be an AEK supporter. The supporters in Nea Filadelfia certainly thought the same after the game today:

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PAO 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2017 by alexaek

After beating our Athenian rivals with a score of 1-0 over the weekend, they returned the favour with a 1-0 win of their own courtesy of a Leto penalty. I was following along to the commentary and while we had a few chances of our own, it seemed like a very lackluster performance overall from AEK.

Chygrinskiy and Vranjes (who ultimately left the game after receiving two yellow cards) were solid for us at the back and Galanopoulos had a good game in the midfield but aside from those three, there seemed to be little ambition or creativity from any of our players. I have to say though that I’m not entirely surprised. We played alright in the game against PAOK and we managed to get a win last game but overall these playoffs feel forced from all the teams involved, rather than being something they want to be involved with. Just looking at the scores of the eight games played so far suggests that too, with not a single game seeing more than one goal scored per team.

Today’s result luckily doesn’t leave us in an awful position just yet. It isn’t perfect, but we’re still second with a two point gap to PAOK. Having said that, we still play PAOK at home and have made it past the two away derbies so on paper we should be able to get the six points from the next two games which would clinch first place for us in the playoffs. It won’t be easy though seeing as we lost to Panionios at home already and we only barely got the win over PAOK in Thessaloniki. But, its definitely realistic to expect us to win our last two games if the team plays the football we saw them play earlier in 2017. Ultimately it depends on which team decides to show up: if its the AEK squad from today or from the Cup final, then we’ll be lucky to come away with three points from the next two games. If, however, we see the AEK that we saw just after Jimenez took over, the AEK team that was scoring goals on a constant basis and barely conceding, then we can fully expect to find ourselves in a Champions League qualifying spot by the end of May.

AEK 0-1 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2017 by alexaek

The other day, Fourtounis made a comment claiming that on Wednesday (today), Olympiakos would “show which team is the best”. Now I’m kind of confused about this because surely, “the best” team would be the team that made it to the Cup Final? But in this case, Olympiakos didn’t in fact make it to the Final, so how can they be the best? Maybe Fourtounis was stuck in a little day dream where he imagined himself in a black and yellow jersey, celebrating in front of 50,000 supporters as he and his team booked their place in the finals:

All kidding aside, it has to be said that today’s performance wasn’t the greatest. We definitely created some chances but we left a lot to be desired and its really only thanks to Olympiakos’ inability to create anything worthwhile that we got away with the result we were looking for. Its unfortunate really since I was really expecting a win. Maybe not a blowout, but I was anticipating a 1-0 game for us, just something to really seal the deal without causing too much trouble.

But hey, why focus on the negatives you might ask? I don’t really plan on it, we just booked our ticket to the 23rd Cup final in AEK’s history so I really don’t have much to complain about. Having said that, we’ll definitely need to look better in the Final regardless of whether we play Panathinaikos or PAOK. At the end of the day though, its a Cup final and just being a part of it will give our players the energy and drive to give the best that they have to offer.

There were some interesting points to take from the match that deserve some attention, the first of which regards Vranjes. I love the guy and his passion, he clearly relishes the opportunity to play for AEK and even more so when a big game comes around. Having said that, he’ll have to be careful when the final comes around. He was close to getting sent off today and it took the intervention of his own teammates to make sure he didn’t go off the rails.

Its also worth noting the Anestis, who actually had a pretty solid game, got sent off in extra time. To be honest, he was quite clearly wasting time so I feel like the ref wasn’t left with much choice. What was particularly amusing about this situation was the fact that we had no remaining substitutions at that point which resulted in Almeida playing goal for the remaining few minutes. Luckily, he wasn’t really tested.

As is typical with games involving Olympiakos (particularly games in which the result doesn’t go Olympiakos’ way), a number of the higher profile members of the organization had some comments to make about what took place. In classic Savvas fashion, he came out with some very valid points about the officiating today, claiming that it was 80-20 in favour of AEK. I think he has a point, after all how can this reckless tackle on Ansarifard not be called as a penalty for Olympiakos:

Part of me wishes that Savvas never opens his mouth again but then the other part of me will miss his weekly comedy routine. 80-20 in favour of AEK, while giving five minutes of extra time and then another five minutes on top of that, and a red card to AEK’s keeper… I’ve doubted it for a while but now I really can’t believe that Savvas and his crew over at Olympiakos are actually serious.

Enough about them though, how about our supporters and the atmosphere they created in OAKA this evening? The scenes from the game earlier today really make me miss Athens… Definitely my favourite banner this season:

The photos below come from AEK365 and can be seen here as well:

Beautiful scenes as always. And now, the final! At the moment its scheduled for May 6th, but we won’t know until tomorrow whether we will face Panathinaikos or PAOK. To be honest, I don’t see PAOK turning around their two goal deficit to Panathinaikos, but it can definitely happen.

 

Olympiakos 1-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2017 by alexaek

On AEK’s 93rd birthday, we were treated to an incredibly important win, one which sees us put a foot into the Cup Finals. As Jimenez said today, the future of this team is bright and what we’ve seen up to and including our victory in Karaiskaki, I see no reason at all for us not to go ahead and win the Cup for a second straight season.

Now I don’t want to get too carried away since nothing in football is certain, especially considering despite the fact that we came away with a win, Olympiakos were still very much in the game. In fact both teams had a few good chances to increase the score throughout the match so we definitely cannot discount Olympiakos at this point. Having said that, with two critical away goals and the next game in an OAKA which I feel will be very close to sold out, I’m pretty confident that we’ll be playing in the final in less than a month’s time. Its also worth keeping in mind that our form against Olympiakos has been surprisingly good with AEK winning four of the last five matches between the two sides.

As I said, Olympiakos did have a couple chances so I won’t sugarcoat our performance and say it was flawless since it clearly wasn’t. We were great going forward, but we did allow a little to much space at times in the back. Overall though, what I really noticed with AEK today was that this was the most confident performance I’ve seen from our team in Karaiskaki since our last 2-1 victory there. Previous matches we’ve played in Piraeus seemed shaky, uncomfortable, and as if we just generally didn’t have a plan. In the past, at least for the last three or so seasons, we tended to play in a way that resulted in us sitting back and hoping for a couple counter attacks. Today, however, was a different story. We played with total control for much of the game, a clear game plan, and a team that didn’t seem to be affected at all by nerves. It was definitely a breath of fresh air and one of the clearest signs yet that Jimenez knows what hes doing with the club.

There was the usual shenanigans that follow an Olympiakos loss, with players and management alike criticizing the officiating. Truth be told, I genuinely don’t even know what they were complaining about today as every handball/penalty they called for were, in realities, clean plays. I guess they need to blame someone though? Although if anyone should complain it would be AEK in this case as Seba should have received a straight yellow for his deliberate trip of Araujo (see video below).

Araujo was, as is pretty much expected at this point, our standout player. Considering the technique and vision he possesses, I really don’t see a way we can keep him past the summer. I would love nothing more than to see that happen, but theres no way Las Palmas aren’t noticing the amazing performances hes been consistently been putting in and while I wish we could offer whatever they would ask for him, I just don’t see any way we could possibly afford his price tag.

Mantalos also put in a great performance and I thought the way he and Araujo linked up on the first goal was just brilliant. Also worth noting was the fact that both Vranjes and Chyrinskiy were in the starting lineup today and while I found our defense to be a little porous at times, they both had great games.

For those who wish to mark it in their calendars, the second leg will take place on the 26th of April. Its still early to say but the crowd will definitely be a sizable one, if not a sell out.

Highlights:

 

The Seba trip:

 

One of the “penalties” Olympiakos called for (I don’t see it either):

 

Another “penalty” they were calling for (maybe if they would just focus on playing the game they wouldn’t be so embarassed in front of their own supporters):

AEK 3-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Jimenez, PAOK with tags , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by alexaek

Araujo OE OE OE

I’ve always had a “fascination” with Argentina. I’ve never been there, but its always been high on my list of places to visit. I have to be honest though and admit that part of the reason I’ve been interested in the country for so many years now though is simply the fact that we’ve some incredible football players from Argentina play for AEK. Thats not to say that every Argentinian we’ve had play for us has been phenomenal. But the thing is, when they’re good, they’re really good. First Scocco, and now Araujo, a player who’s precence on the pitch has elevated the team to a whole new level.

Its not just that he can score, but he also the fact that he makes some great plays and brings so much energy to our attacks. Hes the kind of player that most defenses simply can’t handle, just like Scocco was back in the day. Today was the perfect example of it; when someone like Araujo is in form, hes untouchable.

Now before I go on any further about Araujo, I do have credit to the rest of the team. We played a pretty good game and though PAOK did have a few chances, we were solid overall. Perhaps the only complaint I could have had really about our performance was the fact that we sometimes went large stretches of time without really dictating the pace, but I guess its natural to see some of that urgency ease off when you score so early (as we did today with Araujo opening the scoring just 49 seconds into the game).

Barkas was phenomenal, making a number of key saves to keep us ahead. The same could be said about Glykos as well, as he made some fantastic saves to keep PAOK in the game when the score was still 1-0. Its safe to say that had he not been so sharp today, the score could have been a lot higher, a lot earlier on.

Along with Araujo, our entire offense and midfield was excellent. Simoes and Johansson were constantly pressing and Johansson especially showed so much confidence in some of the balls he played. Mantalos also helped to control the pace of the game while both Ajdarevic and Vargas had some great chances to put us ahead even further.

Something worth noting from this game too was the fact that this was Aravidis’ first match in months. It didn’t take him long to make his presence felt again as he managed to sneak the 3rd goal in just before the end.

Today’s win, aside from resulting in a well earned derby victory, also brought us back into 5th place after our 1-1 draw against Panionios earlier in the week. Things are starting to get interesting too as there are now only 5 points separating 7th and 3rd place. We currently occupy 5th but with a win against PAO in two weeks time, we could see ourselves jumping up to 4th fairly soon.

As has been the case for a while now, we still remain undefeated under Jimenez, 12 games after he took over. Our current goals scored under Jimenez adds up to 29, while we’ve only conceeded 3… Is that even possible? Looking at our results, it seems to be the case, but I have a hard time believing that considering our form before Jimenez returned.

Goals can be watched below. Araujo’s second is stunning, the kind of shot that couldn’t be more perfect. All I can say is that I hope Melissanidis gives Araujo whatever he needs to make him stay, though its safe to say some other teams very well might show some interest.

Its also worth noting that before the game, Original21 organized a large march in Nea Filadelfeia to show some support for our eventual return home to where we belong. Sounded like it was a great time with singing, flares, and banners, but whether it will change anything remains to be seen. All I know is that this mayor is proving to be even more stubborn than I thought. I just hope he realizes that over 90 years of history in Nea Filadelfeia can’t erased with one term as mayor.

Lets hope for many marches like this and that maybe some day we’ll be marching to our stadium once again.

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:

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.