Archive for the Jimenez Category

A Busy Spring So Far

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Friendlies, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by alexaek

Usually at this point, things are relatively quiet. Players are still on vacation, trade rumours are starting to pick up steam but not really amounting to anything, and more often than not we’re just left with the typical sports tabloid gossip.

Things have different this spring. In fact, it seems like every three or four days, another piece of news seems to surface which drastically affects the outlook for next season. I’ll try to recap the main highlights of the off-season so far, in order of significance:

  • The first piece of news worth mentioning happens to also be the most recent. Just a few days ago, Jimenez was supposedly given an ultimatum: accept AEK’s offer within 48 hours or the offer would no longer be valid. The 48 hours passed and it seemed like Jimenez was still no closer to signing with us. Instead, things started to change when he began suggesting that he was hoping to return to Spain rather than continue with AEK. This became evident when I woke up to the news that not only had Jimenez not accepted our offer, but we acted quickly to secure Marinos Ouzounidis for next season. It was kind of a shock, and a move that came out of nowhere for me, but I’m kind of happy about it. Afterall, Jimenez had already given us a Cup and a Championship after his two stints with the team, and he also brought us on a decent run in Europe. Realistically he gave us all he could and while I’m grateful for how he turned the team around, I think its fair that he was looking for a new challenge in Spain. On the other hand, Ouzounidis is an experienced coach in Greece, someone who seems down to earth and prefers to stay out of the spotlight, and a coach who in all fairness did pretty well to keep PAO afloat despite all the challenges they faced these past two seasons. I think if he continues to receive the backing that Jimenez received, he could do very well for us.
  • Lazaros ditched us and signed for Oly. This one also came as a shock to me though in hindsight, I guess it shouldn’t have since it sounds like hes left teams on bad terms in the past as well. The move didn’t make sense to me from his perspective: he had just finished possibly the best season of his career, with a championship winning team, and destined to play Champions League qualifiers next season with a chance at even making the group stages. Instead, he leaves that behind and goes to a team that can play Europa League at best and has a management group that is as volatile as ever. I guess the money was too good to say no to as far as he was concerned, but it makes you realize that loyalty just isn’t a concept that exists to certain players, especially when you become the first player in history to play for PAOK, PAO, AEK, and now Oly… He gave us some great moments, especially this season, but I would love to see the look on his face if AEK manages to finish higher than Oly yet again.
  • While those last two pieces of news were quite shocking, this one wasn’t quite as much. It was, however, a great move on our part: AEK agreed to pay the buyout clause for Livaja, set at 1.8 million Euros. Its not what I would call cheap, but I would call it a bargain considering how reliable he was for us this season. I can’t remember if a deal has been put in place between Livaja and the club but either way, its great to know that he is ours now, and theres no risk of him being snatched back by Las Palmas.
  • Araujo, on the other hand, has been all but confirmed to be going back to Las Palmas. This doesn’t surprise me really, as I was surprised we even managed to get him back on loan last season. He had a great season as well and definitely showed that he deserves a chance to feature more prominently with the Spanish side.
  • Despite Notingham Forest being interested in promising Greek striker Christos Albanis, AEK were able to secure him before anyone else could. To be honest, I’m not too familiar with him yet, but from what I’ve been reading it sounds like he should be quite the prospect for us. I guess we’ll start to see in the friendlies which should be taking place in about a month or so.

I think that pretty much covers the majority of what has been going on so far this offseason, but please do let me know in the comments section if I forgot anything!

PS: I’m wishing nothing but a speedy recovery for Salah! As someone who doesn’t have a country to cheer for at the World Cup this summer for the first time in my lifetime, I was really hoping to see Salah have a good run in the tournament. Huge shame what happened to him today against Madrid, but hopefully he makes it back in time. Hes proven himself to be a class act all season long and definitely doesn’t deserve to be on the sidelines after the season he has had so far.

 

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AEKARA!! (Olympiakos 1-2 AEK)

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2018 by alexaek

Greek derbies… you gotta love them! You never know what can happen and with the way AEK has played this season, expecting anything but the unexpected is just foolish.

So when AEK were down 1-0 in Karaiskaki, with under ten minutes to go, all one had to do was remember our 3-2 come from behind win earlier this season to get some hope that the same thing could happen again. Sure enough, as we had already seen from our previous league encounter with Olympiakos, this AEK team won’t give up when it matters most. With league standings on the line and a huge psychological advantage over our Cup opponents up for grabs, AEK had everything to play for and they did just that.

Jimenez’s timing with his substitution of Giakoumakis for Bakasetas proved to be a stroke of genius as the Cretan played a role in our first goal (which was ultimately scored by Chygrinskiy) and scored the game winner with his first Superleague goal for AEK. If he was looking for his chance to make an impression, he certainly took advantage of it today.

The team in general handled the game pretty well. Tsintotas was brilliant overall in nets, making some big saves to keep us in the game. To be fair to him there was nothing he could do on the goal we conceded.

Our defense was decent overall, but their sloppiness at times almost cost us. Overall though they did what they had to and for the most part limited Olympiakos’ chances of scoring. In fact prior to their goal, they hadn’t even had a genuine chance at scoring for the first 30 minutes of the 2nd half.

Our midfield was pretty good overall too. It took a little while but once the game settled in, they were able to take control for much of the game. One thing I would have liked to have seen more was moving the ball forward. We tended to hold on to it without actively looking for space up ahead, but in an away derby against Olympiakos, it makes sense that we wouldn’t want to risk too much. It was a physical game with over 50 fouls committed by the two sides so our midfielders had to grind out much of the game. It didn’t help that the ref was letting so much slide resulting in a constant barrage of dangerous tackles.

Offensively we were pretty effective. We might not have created many chances for ourselves, but the ones we did create often resulted in great chances. One such chance came from a Masoud header that was just cleared off the line by Olympiakos defender Cisse.

Its hard to describe just how good a result like this feels. Derby wins are always so special on a number of different levels, but this one might just be one of the best ones recently. Not only did we beat them in their own home, with a last minute game winner, but we now leap frog them into 2nd place. The top 3 in the league is now PAOK with 46 points, AEK with 44, and Olympiakos with 42. A loss, or even a draw, would have almost put 1st place out of reach but now we’re one win away from being top again. We should also keep in mind that we only have two derbies left while PAOK still have three, including a game against us which we could easily win.

One of my favourite parts about winning a derby is that its not just the win itself, but what comes after it for us supporters. Needless to say, the celebrations in Athens were pretty crazy. The reception the team got at their hotel was pretty crazy, and its making me wonder what the scenes will be like if we manage to win the league this year.

The scenes inside Karaiskaki meanwhile were far less celebratory. Rioting quickly ensued after the game and from what I’ve heard it wasn’t pretty. Begs the question, will Olympiakos be punished? A game or two without fans is the least they should face, with a point deduction being totally possible here as well. Will it happen? I won’t hold my breath.

Oh I forgot to mention that on its approach to the stadium, AEK’s bus had a window smashed with a rock. Classic Greek scenes… oh well, I’m sure the Olympiakos fan who threw the rock feels great about his team now. Meanwhile a broken bus window is the last thing on our minds right now 🙂

Another Catching Up Post

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2017 by alexaek

So I’ve been away from my computer for the past couple of weeks which accounts for the lack of posts recently. Having said that, its been a busy two weeks for the team, so I’ll go over whats happened on the pitch (and off it) in the time between now and my last post.

I’ll start with our derby against PAO two weekends ago. The game followed our 1-0 win against PAOK a week before and was a big test for the team as it was our first away derby of the season. Playing a derby away from home is never easy, but we had a decent chance here to get a result considering PAO’s poor form leading up to the match. Things didn’t get off to a great start however with PAO scoring only 10 minutes in to make the score 1-0. As has often been the case this season, we conceded from yet another set play when Moledo was left with an easy header into a mostly open net.

Thankfully, we would keep PAO at bay for the rest of the match and truth be told, they never really looked that much like scoring again from that point on. In fact, AEK were actually the better team, registering 8 chances compared to PAO’s 4, and controlling 55% of the possession. It might not have been our prettiest game of the season (in fact it was a pretty disappointing derby overall), but just before the final whistle was blown, we managed to get one back and level the score at 1-1. It was enough to salvage a vital point thanks to our goalscorer Marko Livaja (our most inform player this season).

As is often the case with derbies, this game also had its share of drama which mostly stemmed from one incident that occurred just off the pitch. Just as Jimenez was about to leave the pitch, he caught some kind of insult from the crowd that was directed at him. His response was to flash an obscene hand gesture back towards those hurling the insults, something which of course did not go unnoticed. This result of all this, aside from providing plenty for the radio stations and newspapers to talk about, was a 15 day ban for Jimenez to be served away from the bench. Not exactly what we would hope for when we’re desperately looking for all the points we can get…

Our draw in the Athens derby was followed by a Europa League match at home against Rijeka. The result? A second draw, this time by a score of 2-2. This match, like the match against PAO, couldn’t have gotten off to a worst start. We conceded early on from, you guessed it, another set piece. Two posts later and the score was 0-2 in favour of Rijeka just 25 minutes in. Our chance of clinching qualification to the knockout stages was quickly fading away unless we were able to muster a comeback like the one we managed against Olympiakos.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t mean to be as we ended up falling just short. By the end of the match we managed to even the score at 2-2 and also ended up having the better share of chances. We might not have managed to qualify for the next rounds just yet, but we still find ourselves in a decent position. A draw in the final match against Austria Wien will be enough to see us through, something which is very much possible assuming we manage to defend set plays better…

Our final match until now was one which had a happier ending than the previous two. After two draws in a row, we managed a win when we beat Platanias 3-0 in Athens. The match was preceded with the news that all proceeds from the ticket sales would be donated to the causes helping the flood victims in Greece these past two weeks recover, an initiative that was applauded by Platanias as well.

This game, despite being played without Jimenez on the bench and with both Mantalos and Simoes out injured, was always expected to result in a win for AEK. As expected, the team delivered. The stats are pretty impressive with AEK ending the match with 25 chances (11 of which were on goal) and 63% of the possession. Livaja opened the scoring and added a second goal in the second half with Bakasetas finishing up the scoring at the 63rd minute. While it took a while for us to get some chances, the result ended up being what was pretty much expected. What was more important than the result itself however is the fact that the win now puts us alone in 1st place after PAOK and Atromitos both drew over the weekend. We now sit 1st with 24 points followed by Olympiakos in 2nd with 23. Its tight, but its a slight edge which might go a long way when the season ends.

Milan 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League, Jimenez with tags , , , , , on October 19, 2017 by alexaek

Facing Milan in the San Siro is never an easy task, especially not against a Milan team that on paper looks to be stronger than in previous seasons. Today though, AEK showed no fear in what was the hardest match of the Europa League group stages and instead executed a game plan that stifled Milan and even lead to some good chances of our own.

Credit goes to many people, most notably Anestis who made a number of crucial saves to keep AEK in the game and within grasp of at least one point. He hasn’t been the most consistent keeper and we all know this, but today he proved why he deserves the starting role on this team. Of course it was also a team effort which led to the result and credit for this also goes to Jimenez. I’ve only managed to watch the first 15 minutes so far but from what I’ve seen and read, the team managed to execute a game plan which was able to contain Milan but also lead to considerable presence in Milan’s half. Sure we sat back a bit and expected to soak up some pressure but also managed to venture forward with confidence on a number of occasions. From what I could see we managed to dictate the tempo perfectly at times, something which was key against a Milan team who would have been looking to make a better impression after their loss to Inter over the weekend.

The result, aside from keeping our undefeated streak in the group stages alive, also gives a vital point in the standings. Its still close but 2nd place is definitely within reach and we still have two home games left. Currently Milan are in 1st with 7 points followed by AEK in 2nd with 5 points and Rijeka in 3rd with 3 points. Our next game is a home game against Milan and to be completely honest, theres no reason we can’t go for a win. We’ve beat Milan at home when they were the best team in Europe, so surely we have a chance against a Milan that is especially uninspiring at the moment. Even if we don’t get a win at home but instead manage another draw, we should still be able to beat Rijeka at home as well as Austria Wien away which would be more than enough to get us through to the next round.

It was an exciting game from start to end and while Milan had the bulk of the chances, we created a number of noteworthy chances of our own. Of note is our chance at the 40 second mark in the video below, easily the best chance of the game from what I can see.

The players naturally did their part, but our supporters deserve a special mention too. They were outsanding and the 4,000 of them in attendance managed to make the San Siro sound like Nea Filadelfia. All I could hear on TV while watching the first 15 minutes were AEK chants and it didn’t seem to end at any point during the game. I can’t imagine anywhere I’d rather be than in the stands with AEK supporters at a match like this..

 

Transfers So Far

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2017 by alexaek

With the team having recently arrived in Poland for pre-season training, there have already been moves taken with the hopes of strengthening the squad for our return to the Champions League.

In my opinion the biggest move we’ve made so far was the re-singing of Jimenez. There was some uncertainty about a month or so ago regarding whether we’d hold onto Jimenez for at least another season but the team has cleared that up after a new deal was agreed. As far as I’m concerned this is exactly what we could have hoped for. We saw how quickly he managed to turn the team around last season after he re-joined us, I can only imagine what he could do with a full pre-season as well. It has been far too long since we had a serious and experienced coach for a pre-season so having him here from the start will really see us start in the right direction if we hope to progress at all in the Champions League.

As far as players are concerned, we have made a few singings so far with the first notable singing being that of Helder Lopes. The Portuguese left-back joins us from Las Palmas, the same Las Palmas which currently owns the rights to Sergio Araujo. Haven’t personally seen much of him so I can’t really comment on what he brings to the team, but we’ve had pretty decent luck lately with Portuguese players like Barbosa and Simoes so I can only hope that trend continues with Lopes.

 

We’ve also officially completed the deal to bring over Giakoumakis from Cretan club Platanias. A deal had already been agreed with the players last season but the deal was only able to be finalized this pre-season.  Hes a very promising player who is coming off a couple strong seasons with Platanias. Considering Aravidis was released from the club not too long ago, its a nice to see us strengthen our attack with another promising young Greek.

 

Arguably the biggest singing for the club this season so far though has been the re-signing of Klonaridis. Klonaridis, who became the first player to go from AEK, to PAO, and back to AEK, was picked up for a bargain of a price at a reported 800,000 Euros. Not bad for a player who has already proven himself in this league. Don’t get me wrong, hes not the greatest Greek to wear our jersey by any means, but especially for the price, hes a great addition to the club. He genuinely seems pretty excited to be back at AEK to which I like to see and I have a feeling he could play a big part in any success we have this season.

In addition to our recent singings, we’ve seen a few players released with the most recent being Vargas and Kolovetsios. Its unfortunate to see them both leave as they both brought a lot to the club. Kolovetsios had been with us for a few years by now and had been a great member of the club, causing very few issues along the way. He was always ready to be called upon when needed and though we have solidified our depth in the centre-back position, its too bad we couldn’t find a place for him in the team. Having said that, it was pretty clear his playing time would be limited this season and he still has many years ahead of him so from his point of view this was the right thing to do. On the right club, he could easily become a key player.

Vargas was also an unfortunate loss for us. I’m not sure why exactly his playing time dropped so much under Jimenez, if it was simply a matter of him not fitting the system or if there was something else behind the scenes, I couldn’t say. What I can say though is that I’ll never forget the many moments these past two seasons where he came up big when we needed it. Afterall, how can we forget the player who scored the game winner in our home derbies against PAO, PAOK, and Olympiakos all in one season.

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: