Archive for the Greek Football Category

A Return to Better Days

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by alexaek

If you’re reading this, you probably noticed that I never wrote anything about our 2-1 loss to PAOK in the Cup final. Really it came down to not wanting to write anything since that game was a disaster from before kickoff. It started with the terrible organization, with the game almost being cancelled since the seats didn’t have numbers on them. Then came the fighting between “supporters” within the stadium as well as outside of it. Of course we had the game itself, which was a disappointment on every level thanks to our awful performance and the offside game winner for PAOK.

Overall, not the kind of final I was hoping for. Certainly not the kind of final that will be remembered fondly throughout Greece by fans of the sport aside aside from the PAOK fans.

Thankfully, we were able to somewhat put all that behind us with not one great result, but two. It started with our basketball team managing, after nine years, to finally beat PAO. Even better, the win tied up our semi-final series with them at one game apiece. It was a tight game until the end, as many of our derbies have been this season, but a huge win regardless which gives us enormous momentum heading into the third game. The win only ties the series and we still have plenty of work to do, but to finally get past this hurtle and win a game against our cross town rivals shows that its definitely possible. Will it be enough to get us to the finals? Well I hate to say that PAO are still favourites but at this point nothing is guaranteed anymore.

The day only got better from that point on as we headed north to take on PAOK for the first round of the playoffs. We clearly came out seeking to make a statement after the loss to PAOK in the cup and for the majority of the first half we were easily the stronger team. As the commentator on the radio put it at one point, AEK seemed like the home team as we outplayed PAOK throughout the pitch. The breakthrough came early on as Didac, who had a great game along with most of our defense, latched on to a perfect ball from Mantalos and neatly tucked in the finish. His goal would prove to the deciding factor as neither side would find a way to score from then on, but there were certainly chances.

The game was a great way to put everything from the cup behind us as not only does it get us a huge three points away in Toumba, but it puts us first in the playoff table after Panionios and PAO tied earlier in the day (though Panionios were unfortunate not to come away with the win). Its still early but to already find ourselves in first after starting with fewer points than PAOK and PAO is the best outcome we could have hoped for after the first round of playoffs. Our next match is at home against Panionios, a game I feel like we should comfortably take, while PAO host PAOK in Athens. I could personally see that game going either way as PAO will be seeking to get some revenge of their own after being knocked out of the cup while PAOK will be looking to recover lost ground after losing, not to mention they’ll also be out to prove that they were legitimately the better team against PAO in the cup semi-finals.

 

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.

Atromitos 0-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Greek Football with tags , , , , on March 20, 2017 by alexaek

The Jimenez run continues, extending our undefeated run to 13 games since we swapped coaches. Maybe not with the emphatic scoreline we would have hoped for, but considering the last time we beat Atromitos in Peristeri was 2009, I’ll gladly take the three points however they come. The game winner came courtesy of Mantalos in the 57th minute, though we also had a goal wrongly disallowed for offsides while Araujo hit the post with another fantastic effort.

To give our recent form some context, its worth keeping in mind that Olympiakos have now lost four of their last five games after their 1-0 loss to PAO yesterday. Our recent form has, aside from being impressive in its own right, also helped secure our spot in the playoff race. The season is far from over but considering earlier in the year I wasn’t even sure we’d get back into fifth, I’d say we’re starting to look a little more comfortable. With the way we’ve been playing, I’d say theres no reason for us not to stay 5th at least. On top of that, we have a great chance to slip into 4th with a win over PAO in our upcoming match.

Something else worth noting is that the draw for the Cup semi-finals is due to take place tomorrow after last week’s draw was called off because of a bomb threat. I’m excited since we’re pretty much guaranteed a good game. For the first time in 68 years, AEK, PAO, Olympiakos, and PAOK are the final four teams so I think its safe to say we might see one of the more interesting Cup finals that we’ve seen for the past few years.

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 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: