Archive for the Derby Category

You Can’t Win Them All…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, PAOK with tags , , , on May 13, 2018 by alexaek

I was hoping this post would be a celebration of AEK winning its first double in over forty years. It seems like almost all of my posts lately have been nothing but good news. Naturally, there will be times when we can’t seem to win even if things are going our way and yesterday was one such example.

To be honest, I was attending a wedding all day and wasn’t able to watch the match live (or follow it for that matter as the ceremony was taking place as the game was going on). I did record it on TV here but after reading and hearing about what happened, I can’t even really bring myself to watch it. By all accounts, it seems as though AEK, with the exception of Barkas, simply did not show up to play.

I expected more from the team since the momentum definitely seemed to be in our favour, but on the other hand I know PAOK was the team that had more to prove. In the end, it showed as I haven’t heard anyone say that PAOK wasn’t clearly the better side. Its unfortunate, but at least the loss comes down to simply a matter of being outplayed rather than any other off the pitch incidents. Worth noting is the fact that a Spanish ref officiated the match. Again I wasn’t able to see much aside from a few highlights but it sounds like he did a great job of calling the match fairly and keeping things under control. Maybe we should get foreign refs for all derbies next season…

Oh well, all this means is that we’ll have to wait for next year to clinch the double!

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AEK 3-0 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Panathinaikos, PAOK with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2018 by alexaek

The league finally started back up this weekend and AEK wasted no time getting back into their groove. Going into the match, its fair to say that I didn’t expect PAO to really trouble us much and, aside from a few scary moments at the start of the match, it was a game that went pretty much as I expected.

Before I go into a bit of detail about the game, its worth going over some news from earlier this week. The courts in Greece finally released their final decisions regarding the PAOK-Olympiakos match, and the PAOK-AEK match and while some may say that PAOK got off lightly (which I think they did), the news was overall pretty positive from an AEK perspective. Specifically, we were awarded the 3-0 win on paper after the fiasco involving Savidis and his gun after storming the pitch during our match against PAOK.

Bearing that in mind, along with our win today over PAO, we now find ourselves four points away from winning the league. Thats right, four points is all we need from our next four games against Platanias, Levadeiakos, Kerkyra, and Apollon. Three of those teams make up the bottom three of the standings and considering this has been one of our most successful seasons in recent memory, the championship is practically guaranteed to be ours as far as I’m concerned. Now obviously we don’t want to jump to any conclusions but its hard to not get excited about that. On top of that, we still have a pretty good chance of advancing in the cup, our stadium is making good progress, our basketball club has already won the cup and is close to a spot in the Champions League final four, all of that is making this one great season to be an AEK supporter all around.

Back to today’s game: it was a bit of a nervous start for us as PAO managed to create some chances early on. They even forced a huge save by Barkas that kept things even at 0-0 after Coulibaly managed to get a shot off from close range. Once things settled down though after about 10 minutes of play, it was mostly AEK from that point onwards. Araujo opened the scoring for us after yet another tremendous finish before Galo calmly put away a second goal for us. Araujo featured once again on the score sheet after scoring again to make it 3-0 and seal the win for us.

It helped our cause that PAO’s Insua received a red card in the first half but its safe to say that AEK were always going to be favourites against this PAO team. Araujo had an exceptional game once again, but Lazaros, Hult, and Galo also played great. On the other hand, I was a little concerned by Vranjes who at times seemed a little too relaxed in defense. Usually he’s extremely solid so I’m not too worried, but I feel like it was one of his weaker performances with AEK this season.

Our first goal is definitely the highlight of the match (and most likely of the week), but the other two goals were also very well taken. Its also worth keeping an eye out for Lazaros’ crossbar. If Lazaros had managed to score that, we would have had yet another contender for goal of the season from him.

At A Loss For Words

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2018 by alexaek

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in Greek football, something happens that makes you realize you haven’t seen anything yet. What unfolded in Toumba today proved yet again that you can really never know what to expect when it comes to this league (though calling it a “league” would be a little too generous… maybe “zoo” would be more appropriate).

It all started with what happened early Sunday morning (or late Saturday night for those of us in North America) as I mentioned yesterday. PAOK’s punishment for what happened two weeks earlier in Toumba were reversed as they were given back 3 points and were allowed to play with fans in the stadium for today’s match. How those decisions were made is beyond me, but what was more important today was the game at hand against the only team that could challenge us for the league.

The game got off to what was surprisingly a quiet start off the pitch. Little fan trouble from what I could tell and no issues in the locker rooms either, though the match itself was a dirty one. Tackles were coming from both sides and as would be expected, it wasn’t the kind of environment that encouraged flowing football. Eventually things settled down and we did see some chances for both sides, including scoring opportunities for Araujo, Livaja, and Bakasetas.

The match was heading for a 0-0 stalemate when at the 89th minute, PAOK scored from a corner. Or did they? Replays showed that a PAOK player was clearly in an offside position and though the referee originally indicated that the goal was a good one, he seemed to track back on that decision. After consulting with his linesman and dealing with pressure from both sets of players, he seemed to reverse his decision (a call which I believe was a good one, though “experts” in Greece seem undecided on whether the goal should have counted or not).

Now you might be wondering, what was so odd about that? A fairly dirty game, a few chances for both sides, and a last minute winner are all to be expected in a derby. Well, it was after the referee changed his mind on the goal that things unfortunately turned ugly. What happened next was honestly something I would never have expected to see, not even in Greek football.

At this point in the game with the score reversed back to 0-0, Ivan Savidis, owner of PAOK, stormed on to the pitch and instructed his players to leave the pitch. I guess he was attempting to protest the refs decision to disallow the goal? In either case, it didn’t help to calm the situation down at all and he faced resistance from his own players after they refused to leave the pitch and insisted on finishing the match. The situation escalated from there as Savidis made his way towards the refs and AEK’s bench, supposedly cursing officials including referee Kominis and a number of AEK staff members.

What made all of this almost unbelievable is one small detail that wasn’t originally shown on TV. Pictures that surfaced not long after all this happened show Savidis walking onto the pitch with a pistol strapped to his waist. Yes, thats right. PAOK’s owner walks on to the pitch and not only does he start threating officials and staff of AEK, but he does so with a gun on him. I can honestly say I’ve seen it all in Greek football now. I don’t know if Savidis thought he was back in Russia, where maybe that kind of thing happens regularly, but I think its safe to say you can understand why AEK players and staff made their way to the dressing room shortly after that.

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After the incident involving Savidis, the refereeing team also made their way to the dressing rooms and it was at this point where the result of the match was completely up in the air. Would the game continue? Would it be ended as a draw? It took around two hours before a decision was made and the decision that was officially declared by the ref was one that not even the radio commentators had ever seen before. Officially, the ref claimed a 1-0 PAOK win and declared the game “called off” because AEK refused to re-enter the pitch. So the goal counted, then was taken back, and was then re-awarded to PAOK after the fact. Yep, I don’t think I’ll ever see a day like this again in Greek Football.

Now, at this point the match might be awarded 1-0 for PAOK but I think its safe to say that this is far from over. This will definitely be taken to court, and AEK will have a strong case for having the result reversed in some way. I’m sure it will be a couple weeks at least until we know what officially the outcome of this match is. Its also worth noting that there is talk of the government shutting down the league, indefinitely or for the remainder of the season. I’m sure the headlines of newspapers throughout Greece will be pretty interesting…

PAOK Penalties Reversed

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby with tags , on March 10, 2018 by alexaek

You can never truly know what to expect when it comes to football in Greece. The morning of our game with PAOK in Toumba (literally the morning as the decision was made at 1 AM local time in Greece), PAOK was granted two of their demands after appealing the recent penalties inflicted on them due to crowd trouble before their game with Olympiakos.

What this means for us is that now we will play in a Toumba that will likely be packed rather completely empty as originally planned. Whether this will play in our advantage or not remains to be seen but PAOK will definitely be under pressure from their supporters as it is now them who are playing catchup with us.

On top of the reversal of the supporters ban, their 3 point deduction was also reversed. Had it stood, they would have been 5 points behind us before our game even started but as it stands now, they are only 2 points behind. It definitely puts more pressure on us as we now simply cannot afford to lose. A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world as PAOK have the slightly more difficult schedule for the remainder of the season, but this game really is a must win now. A win would put us 5 points clear with 5 games left to play (4 of which should, on paper at least, be fairly easy wins). Its safe to say that either way, our game with PAOK tomorrow is most likely the most important one we will play all season.

Atromitos 1-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Derby, football, Greek Football with tags , , , , on February 26, 2018 by alexaek

So as you may have seen already, and as was mentioned in a comment in a previous point, the all important PAOK-Oly game was never played. I’m sure it comes as no surprise too that the reason was once again fan trouble from the PAOK fans.

Why would I bring this up in a post about a game between AEK and Atromitos? Well the possible implications in our hunt for the title could end up being decisive. Nothing is determined for sure yet but it seems quite possible that PAOK could have 3 points deducted, and will likely play a couple games without supporters. The 3 point deduction is huge as it drops PAOK 2 points below us and places us alone in 1st. Whats frustrating about today’s game is had we managed to hold on to our 1-0 lead, we would have had the chance be even further ahead of PAOK before we play them in a game where they likely won’t have any home support. Its a huge opportunity lost but at the end of the day I can’t say I’m surprised. Atromitos are never an easy team to face and afterall they were the last team to beat us in all competitions back in October of 2017. It didn’t help that fatigue has clearly started to get the best of us, resulting in a game where we often failed to control the pace for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately the disappointment didn’t end with the result itself. Livaja picked up a yellow meaning he will have to miss two of the next four games: Panionios, PAOK, Panathinaikos, and Platanias. On top of that, Araujo, Simoes, and Hult all picked up injuries during the game but I’m not sure yet whether any of them are particularly serious.

Highlights of today’s game are below, featuring Araujo’s goal to make it 1-0 for AEK and Warda’s beauty to tie it for the home team.

 

For something a little more uplifting, even if today’s result isn’t the end of the world, take a look at this video showing the progress being made in Nea Filadelfia. Its an exciting time to be an AEK fan as things are actually starting to come together regarding the stadium.

Where Do I Begin?

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby, Europa League, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2018 by alexaek

What a season this has been for us AEK supporters so far. Away from the blog for one week and I have not one, not two, but three incredibly important AEK stories to discuss. Whats more is that it all took place within the span of about four days. Lets start at the beginning though:

Last Thursday we faced Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League Round of 32. The match, the first of two, took place in Athens and as I’m sure most of you know ended in a 1-1 draw. The result is a disappointing one seeing as we’ve conceded the away goal without coming away with a win, but it hardly signals the end of the road for us in Europe. A win in Kiev will guarantee we go through, but so will a 2-2 draw (or any draw really that doesn’t end 0-0 or 1-1).

I honestly have hope that we can get the result we need. We’ve already seen this team perform well with their backs against the wall this season (just look at the comeback wins against Olympiakos this season for example) and on top of that, we outplayed the Ukranians in Athens. The results might not suggest that, but we were genuinely the better team and one look at the match stats confirms that. For example, we created 14 chances (while they had 3), and 6 of our chances were on target (compared to their 1 on target). We also had 64% possession and had double the completed passes. I know this counts for little when the result isn’t favourable, but if anything it gives me hope that we have what it takes to advance.

Having said that, its worth keeping in mind that we will be without Vranjes and Livaja after they both picked up yellow cards, and both those absences will be a huge loss for us. Being without Livaja is something we could live with, but missing Vranjes will leave a gap for sure, so hopefully both Lambropoulos and Chyrgrinskiy are ready come kick off.

Apologies for the poor quality highlights, it was all I could really find on youtube:

 

To help us get over the disappointment in the Europa League from a few days prior, our Basketball club took part in the Greek Cup final on Saturday against Olympiakos. This was our first chance of winning the Cup since 2001 and our first chance of winning any silverware since 2002 so needless to say, there was a lot of expectation. On top of that, its been a rather celebratory year for the team as they’ve been celebrating the team’s 50th Anniversary since winning  the Cup Winner’s Cup and in the process becoming the first Greek team to win a European trophy in a major sport. Needless to say, the stage was set for what was bound to be a tight game and neither team disappointed.

Ultimately, we were able to do more than enough to come out on top after having thoroughly outplayed Olympiakos. It was a close game throughout but it was clear AEK we’re the stronger side for most of the game as I can only remember one point at which Olympiakos had the lead. Having said that, both teams played a great game and it was one of the more enjoyable basketball games I’ve watched this season, made even more enjoyable thanks to our 88-83 win. Its yet another win against Olympiakos across both Football and Basketball as we also beat Olympiakos’ basketball team earlier this season.

As was to be expected, the team’s reception at the Airport in Athens as they returned from Crete was quite the party:

And for those who didn’t get the chance to watch the match, it can be watched in its entirety here:

 

The weekend only got better from that point on as next up was our football match against Xanthi. Now, a league game at home against a respectable but non-threatening opponent would normally not be cause for much celebration but what happened during our 4-0 win was something worth noting. In fact, it was downright historic. Why you might ask? It all comes down to the fact that Vranjes, a centre back, had scored a hat trick by the 33rd minute. Never in the history of 1st division Greek football has a centre back scored a hat trick. Even Vranjes himself has never scored more than 3 goals in an entire season yet here he was, scoring 3 goals in 33 minutes.

Amazing really, and even more amazing when you consider some of the great centre backs we’ve had over the years: Manolas, Dellas, and Papastathopoulos are just a few that come to mind. Almost equally amazing is the fact that its been over ten years since someone scored a hat trick for AEK: the last time that happened was when Liberopoulos scored 3 in a 5-2 win over Aigaleo back in 2007.

The win, as is every win from this point onwards, was huge for us as PAOK won yet again, meaning they’re still 2 points up on us. They have two tough games coming up followed by their match against us so as long as we can keep the pressure on, theres a very good chance we can find ourselves in the lead in a few weeks time.

It Just Doesn’t End! (AEK 2-1 Olympiakos)

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , , on February 7, 2018 by alexaek

For the 3rd time this season, Olympiakos have been outclassed in every way by an AEK team that seems to thrive when playing against our rivals. Today’s match, which sealed our place in the Cup Semi-Finals, was the 4th time we’ve played Olympiakos this season and ensured we remain unbeaten against them after winning 3 and drawing 1 (our previous Cup game against them which ended 0-0 in Karaiskaki).

Both our goals were pure class and will be remembered for ages. Not to take away from Lazaros’ goal which opened the scoring but Araujo’s goal to make it 2-0 was extra special. As others pointed out on-line, it was the kind of goal we would have seen from Demis back in the day and it further cemented Araujo’s role in our team and in the history books.

Thankfully we managed to avoid any crowd troubles, since we all know they would have been looking for any reason to call off the game as they had a few years ago. The game itself was one in which AEK took its time to find some rhythm. Once we did though, it became clear who was going to be the more likely winner. This seems to be the way we have approached many of our games with Olympiakos recently and it seems to have payed off well. Start slow, let them build a false sense of confidence, and then get into the game when they’ve relaxed and opened up.

Our first goal came courtesy of Lazaros who calmly headed in a perfectly placed cross from Bakakis. The goal, which came in 56th minute, was what we were all hoping for but it was the incredible goal by Araujo which sealed the deal less than 20 minutes later. In the 72nd minute Araujo was able to latch onto a ball thrown deep into Olympiakos territory and with one perfect touch from his chest set himself up for a beautifully taken volley. I would assume that when this season is done, that will be one of those goals we remember most, much like Cesar’s free kick against Milan and that long range shot from Liberopoulos when we beat Olympiakos 4-0 back in the 06-07 season.

Olympiakos did provide me with a bit of a scare when former AEK player Tachtsidis managed to pull one back. The former AEK midfielder had no problem celebrating a goal against his former club but it was AEK who had the last laugh after they managed to weather the storm of countless Olympiakos corners towards the end of the match.

 

I love when we beat Olympiakos but this is almost becoming too easy. I can’t remember the last team we dominated them this much. It goes further back than this season too: in the last 10 games against them, we’ve won 7 games and have lost only 2. But hey, I’m okay with this!