Archive for the football Category

AEK in the Round of 32!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League, football with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2017 by alexaek

After finishing the group stages undefeated, AEK are in the Europa League Round of 32! Its worth remembering too that this was our first time playing in the group stages of a European Cup since before we fell to the 3rd division.

Management and the team both deserve credit for what they accomplished since even though we might not have won as many games as we would have liked, it was a solid performance in the group stages that even brought us close to beating Milan twice. The performance is especially impressive when you consider that we are the only team in our group not to lose a match after Milan’s loss to Rijeka today.

Today’s match which confirmed our progression to the next round was a 0-0 draw away against Austria Wien. Not entirely impressive on its own, but the team did well to do what they set out to do and come away with at least a point. There were some chances for both sides but it sounds like Wien rarely seemed likely to finish with a win.

Worth noting from the highlight reel below is Araujo’s chance in front of goal but also the open net missed by Wien when Tsintotas punched it straight at the opposition.

 

Of course, the hard part begins now. The draw for the next round takes place on Monday next week, and its safe to say that it could go either way. On the one hand we might be drawn against clubs like Villareal, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Lazio, or CSKA. On the other hand, we could get a little “lucky” and get drawn against a club like Red Bull Salzburg, Lokomotiv, or Viktoria Plzen. To be honest, none of the teams we could face will be easy, its just a matter of how hard it will be to get past. But hey, crazier things have happened and afterall, everyone thought Milan would easily walk through the group but we ended up giving them a run for their money both home and away. Regardless of how the draw goes, I couldn’t be more excited to see AEK in this stage of a European Cup again!

One last thing worth noting: without Olympiakos making it out of their group, we are the last Greek club standing. Aside from bragging rights, this also means we get a larger amount of the market share from UEFA which can only be a good thing.

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AEK 1-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, football with tags , , , , , , , on November 5, 2017 by alexaek

I’ve met many people throughout my relatively young life who simply were not into sports. One thing I often hear from some of these people is that they don’t understand the point of supporting a team, of spending so much of your time and energy towards a team, when you know the chances of ever winning a championship are relatively slim. To be honest, they’re probably right, especially when you support a team in Greece. Look at us AEK supporters for example: sure we win a cup here and there, but we haven’t won a championship since 1994, over 20 years ago.

So why do we show up at the stadium every weekend? Why do AEK supporters in Australia wake up at unimaginable times in the middle of the night to watch the team? Why do those of us in North America interrupt our Sundays to watch an AEK team that we know will not win the championship most of the time? The answer is simple really: its days like today that keep us going, 23 years after our last championship.

Now its not only the fact that we beat PAOK that made this particular Sunday so rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, that was a huge win and I’ll get into why it was in a bit but it was what happened before the game against PAOK that really made this Sunday such a satisfying one for us AEK supporters. Only a couple hours before our triumph on the pitch, we also triumphed on the courts, beating PAO 73-69 to secure our spot in the Basketball Cup Final for the first time in 17 years.

Not much to complain about right? I”ll start with the basketball game since that took place first. We all know that AEK was once one of the best basketball clubs in Europe but for the past decade and a half, PAO and Olympiakos have been undeniably stronger than us. They’re the better teams, its as simple as that, so to beat either of them is a pretty big deal for us. But to beat PAO in the semi finals of the Cup is a huge deal. The fact that it was a close game throughout makes it even more satisfying though I’ll admit that I was afraid we would let the win slip in the end. Luckily we managed to hold on and win, thanks especially to a 25 point 4th quarter which was enough to down PAO in the end.

The Cup Final will take place on the 17th of February (how am I supposed to wait that long???) and will put us up against Olympiakos. The last time we played in the Cup Final? 2001, the year we won it against PAO. It will be a very tough match and Olympiakos will be favourites without a doubt, but I have no doubt that AEK will be up for the challenge.

 

Now before I continue onto the match against PAOK, I have to point out that it wasn’t all good news. Shortly before the match was due to begin, we saw crowd troubles yet again at OAKA, resulting in tear gas for a second time this season. I’m not certain of the details, but from what I could make out on the radio it sounded like it had something to do with security/the police, and the number of fans trying to make their way into the grounds. Again, I’m not sure what exactly happened and what started it all, but I did hear that there were some scuffles between supporters and cops, and that a decent amount of tear gas was released just outside the gates. I haven’t learned of any injuries or arrests, but I do know that the amount of tear gas released was enough to cause the delay of the game by a few minutes until the atmosphere was able to clear out a bit. Unfortunately, it sounds like we might see more punishment as a result of what happened. Almost definitely a fine, and quite likely a ban for our fans from at least one match. All I’m hoping for at this time is that we don’t see a point deduction.

As for the match itself? Well, the excitement carried over to the pitch as well. Only 8 minutes into the match and we saw a red card to Araujo after he shoved Zambrano to the ground. Was it worthy of a red card? Absolutely, but I feel that Zambrano should have gotten a red as well for shoving Araujo prior to Araujo’s shove. The only difference between the two shoves? Zambrano decided to theatrically fall to the ground.

Going a man down that early was worrying, but for some reason I was never too nervous. Araujo has been fairly quiet afterall (maybe this will “wake him up”a bit), plus I figured this would just make a goal against PAOK even more satisfying.

Our goal did eventually come despite playing a man less, with Livaja tucking away a Simoes cross in the 25th minute. We needed some luck on the goal after the ball took a favorable deflection on its way to Simoes, but a goal is a goal in a derby, regardless of how they come.

The playing field leveled itself shortly after, when Zambrano received a second yellow for an obvious challenge. Its safe to say that it was only a matter of time until PAOK received a red as they had been playing some dirty football up to that point (I would expect no less from them though).

From that point on it was a fairly scrappy match with a few chances for either side and many dirty tackles in between. PAOK had their fair share of chances, but it was obvious they were unlikely to score. They definitely put the pressure on but they were anything but clinical in front of our net. Its worth noting that once all was said and done, PAOK had 6 yellow cards and 2 reds. Sound like a derby to you? I’d say so.

Not the prettiest match, but the team did well to come away with the 3 points. We have to keep in mind that we lost Araujo early, we were playing withouth Mantalos, and we were coming off a tough match against Milan. Not easy conditions to play under at all, but its reassuring to see that this team can adapt do whats needed to get results one way or another.

Derbies are always important, but this one carried some extra importance with regards to the standings. As a result of the win, we now move up to 1st place, tied on points with Atromitos. Atromitos technically have the edge due to the fact that they beat us earlier in the season, but its still a great place to find ourselves 10 matches. Were not clear yet since even though we currently have 20 points, PAOK are just behind us on 18 followed by Olympiakos with 17.

 

We have two weeks off until our next game so that Greece can play its World Cup qualifier against Croatia but we’ll be back in business against PAO, at their stadium. To be honest, this is probably the most confident I’ve been in a while about our chances of sneaking away with a win at Leoforos. PAO are an extremely unpredictable team but for the most part they’ve been pretty poor this season. If we’re going to beat them in their own home, this is our chance.

AEK 0-0 Milan

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League, football with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2017 by alexaek

Another game against Milan, and another scoreless draw. Would a win have been nice? Oh definitely, especially after watching the highlights and realizing we had more than our fair share of chances to score. Still though, there are some key points to take away from these past two games:

  1. We’re still undefeated, four games into the group stages. Thats a pretty impressive stat bearing in mind this is our first time in the group stages of a European tournament in years.
  2. We managed to prevent Milan from scoring in two straight games, including in their home stadium. Now I know Milan aren’t in the best shape form wise but still, considering their team costs in the range of 200-250 Million Euros (I believe that is more than all Superleague teams combined), its something to be proud of. If anything these past two games show that we have a coach who understands tactics and a team that knows how to implement it.
  3. Today’s game was a key one considering we were missing Mantalos. The game was a key test to show how we would handle the situation without him on the pitch and it seems like we managed to adapt fairly well. I’m sure we would have benefited from his presence, but we still managed to control the tempo for much of the game while creating some great scoring opportunities.

Two games still remain in the group stages but we’re in a decent position. Honestly I’d say that first place in the group is still up for grabs as well, if only slightly. This Milan team has looked shaky at best and with their current form, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Austria Wien or Rijeka manage to hold them to a draw in the last two games. If that were to happen and we were to win our final two games (unlikely but definitely possible), we would finish the Group Stage in first. Not bad at all for our first time back after an extended absence. Having said that, second place is definitely ours to take at this point. I’m sure we have at least another win and a draw from the final two games in store for us which would, I believe, seal at least second place.

As for today’s game itself, I was able to follow the commentary for much of it and from what I read it sounded like we played well. It seemed as though we had a plan, were able to stick with it and, most importantly, we weren’t able to attack. In fact it sounded like we were the stronger team throughout much of the match and after watching the highlights, I think that was confirmed. I was looking at some stats as well and I think throughout the first half, Milan had the ball in our box only twice and didn’t manage a shot until well into the match.

Equally impressive were our supporters. Its a shame we weren’t able to sell out like we did the last time Milan came to town, but reports say there were around 50,000 in attendance which is a pretty decent number. It definitely puts the low attendance figures for Milan in their home match against us to shame. Unfortunately there was an incident where some Milan fans were ambushed supposedly by AEK supporters. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I read that around 9 Milan supporters and 3 AEK supporters were injured but I don’t believe any of the injuries were particularly serious.

A win would have been nice, especially considering our chances, but I’ll take the draw. More importantly for us now is our match against PAOK this weekend. Its a huge match since a win will land us in 2nd place, two points over PAOK. In fact depending on how Atromitos fare with Panionios, we could even find ourselves in 1st by the end of the weekend.

 

Club Brugge 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Europa League, football with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2017 by alexaek

It was a stalemate today in Brugge despite both teams coming close to scoring on a number of chances. Perhaps a disappointing result in terms of excitement, but its definitely a result which puts us in a good position to advance further in the Europa League. The result certainly doesn’t guarantee anything but starting on equal footing at home after a promising performance in the first leg sets us up nicely.

It was definitely an improved performance over how we played against CSKA based on what I’ve been reading and seeing in highlights. Even Anestis managed to have a solid outing despite some shaky games against CSKA in which his judgment left much to be desired. All in all it sounds like the entire team put in a good showing today aside from Klonaridis, though if I remember correctly I read an article which stated that he was playing with an injury.

As I was following the commentary it definitely seemed like we started strong. Unlike our matches against CSKA though, we were able to create some quality chances today. It was nice to see some creativity from the team too, something which goes to show that the chemistry might have improved considerably compared to our previous two matches. Jimenez even mentioned after the match that even though the team might still be lacking in a couple areas, they’re certainly playing with passion and grit.

Some nice highlights in the video below though my personal favourite would have to be that chance off the free kick right at the end. Had that managed to sneak in it would have been the perfect way to end a match. You’ll also notice during the highlights that Livaja got sent off in the 58th minute. I couldn’t see any legitimate cause for a second yellow and AEK365 seemed to feel the same way. Its unfortunate that we’ll miss him for the next match as he seemed to have played a good match today, but I’m sure Jimenez can work something out. Lazaros could start in his position next week or perhasps we can even see Giakoumakis being given a chance.

AEK Bounces Back with Two Great Wins

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2017 by alexaek

After our unfortunate result against PAO last weekend, the team wasted no time in finding some form again with two impressive results: a 2-0 away win against Platanias and a comfortable 5-0 win against Kerkyra in Athens.

The 2-0 win against Platanias was particularly noteworthy for two reasons, first of which was the fact that not only did Vinicius start the game at left back, but he also played a fantastic game which also saw him score the opening goal. Also worth noting from the game in Chania was the fact that Aravidis came on as a sub and scored yet again. His goal was a beautifully taken one and judging by what Jimenez had to say after the match, I think we might see Aravidis play at least a few more times before the season ends.

Our second game, which took place today, was an all too easy 5-0 win against Kerkyra. Didac, Pekhart, and Bakasetas were the scorers with Pekhart and Bakasetas both scoring two. Definitely a performance which helps boost confidence heading into the homestretch before the playoffs but what I appreciated just as much as the score was seeing Bakasetas hold a Lambropoulos jersey after the game as a show of support for his injured teammate. Hearing the comments that players have made, it sounds like the atmosphere in the locker rooms is more positive than it has been all season which is something that was sorely missing with previous managers, and our performances so far with Jimenez certainly suggest the same.

It was an interesting day in the superleague today with PAOK beating Panathinaikos 3-0 and Olympiakos barely holding on for a 1-1 draw with Levadeiakos. The results don’t chance anything at the top of the table, but it sets up an exciting final two games as far as the 2nd through 5th place teams are concerned.

 

AEK 2-3 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, football, Greek Football, Greek Soccer with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by alexaek

Well I guess all good things must eventually come to an end. After going undefeated for so long with Jimenez as coach, we finally faced our first defeat in months after a heartbreaking loss to PAO.

I was away for the weekend so I didn’t get the chance to watch the game live, but I did record it so when I get the chance I’ll try to catch a bit of it. From the sounds of it though, it seemed like it was quite the entertaining match. The result was definitely not what I had hoped for and to be honest, not what I was expecting. Unfortunately though, you never know what to expect when getting back to action after long international breaks. These breaks often seem to come at a terrible time, as they did for us these past two weeks when we seemed to have some momentum. I was afraid we’d come back a little hesitant and it seems like we did.

Thankfully, we’re still in a playoff spot but had we managed to hold on to the draw rather than concede in the last minute, we would have been only two points off of PAO. Our schedule from this point on though is, in theory, a comfortable one so I imagine we’ll manage to stay in fifth until the end of the season.

I won’t comment much on the game since I didn’t see it, but I will mention that it looked like, once again, our supporters put on quite the show. Although I will say I was a bit disappointed by the size of the crowd.

One final word though, with regards to some interesting news out of Greece last week. It was announced that, for the first time since the playoff format was setup in the Superleague, next season’s champion will also take part in the playoffs. I was never a big fan of the playoff format but having 1st through 5th play for the title at least makes a lot more sense, in addition to hopefully making the playoffs a whole lot more interesting in seasons to come.

On a basketball related note, today was the anniversary of our famous win against Slavia, when our basketball club became the first Greek side to win a European trophy. That famous result of course happened in 1968, and to see some pictures of the team honouring the event, check out this link.

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.