Archive for the Superleague Category

Asteras Tripolis 2-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Superleague with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2017 by alexaek

We suffered our first loss over the weekend and though we might be lucky to still be in 1st, we chose an awful weekend to drop so many points. Why you might ask? With PAOK drawing and Olympiakos losing at home, we had a golden opportunity to increase our lead in 1st to 4 points. Instead, we find ourselves lucky to still be in 1st after Lamia beat Panionios earlier today.

It could be worse for sure, but its disappointing still. Its especially disappointing since it feels as though this loss could have been avoided. I missed this match too unfortunately but I followed it and was surprised to see some of the decisions Jimenez went with. What really surprised me at first was the fact that we started with Tsintotas in goal. Now I’m not saying that he was to blame for any of the goals (to be honest I haven’t even seen the highlights yet), but why start with him in possibly our most important game of the season so far? He hasn’t even played yet in the league this season afterall.

We also started with Giannoutsos and Vinicius in defense and it seems as though neither of them had a great game either. Giannoutsos specifically was making his Superleague debut in a high pressure game and Vinicius was apparently largely to blame for the opening goal. It just doesn’t make sense why Jimenez would risk so much in a game like this. I understand that the players were tired, we saw this clearly in our Europa league match earlier this week, but we have two weeks until our next game and plenty of time for the players to rest before then. It seems very odd that Jimenez would make these moves; maybe he thought it was a risk worth taking. Its safe to say that the result was not what he was hoping for so the best we could expect is that he might not take such big risks in the future.

It didn’t sound like the most exciting game and it seems as though when both Livaja and Lazaros are not in the starting lineup, then we really struggle to create genuine chances. Whats really alarming when looking at the stats is that we had 2 shots inside the box while Tripolis had 6. A porous defense and an attack that could hardly create anything worthwhile, definitely not what we like to see. To make things worse, this is the 3rd game in a row now where we concede just after half time, with Tripolis’ opening goal coming in the 47th minute. Its a weird trend if I may say so myself but after seeing it happen three games in a row, I’m starting to wonder if its more than just coincidence.

Overall a disappointing weekend, but like I said we’re still 1st with 13 points while PAOK are closely behind us on 12 points. Its worth noting that after their loss, Olympiakos 7th with 8 points, only 2 points ahead of PAO who got off to an awful start this season. Its definitely an interesting start to the season and while its a little too close for comfort from an AEK supporter perspective, it definitely has more potential to be one of the more exciting championships we’ve seen in a while.

Advertisements

AEK 3-0 Panthrakikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football, PAOK, Playoffs, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2016 by alexaek

Such a disappointing finish to a game which started so well. I have no complaints about the score, of course, but when you score three goals within the first twenty minutes I can’t help but build up a sense of expectation. I wasn’t surprised to see the first half end at 3-0, but I was certainly expecting another goal at least.

To be fair to the players though, it wasn’t exactly their fault. The fact that we had two injuries and were forced to make two substitutions very early in the game affected our rhythm from what I read and that’s definitely understandable. We also have to keep in mind the fact that the weather in Athens was dreadful today (cold and wet) as well as knowing that the team probably so no reason in wearing themselves out when we have some important playoff games to get ready for.

MVP of the match I believe was Buonanotte and I can’t help but be happy for him. He’s been given very few chances this season, and he’s hardly ever started a match. Despite this, he always manages to give Poyet a reason or two to trust that he can contribute when we need him. His goal so early on showed exactly the kind of ball movement we need in front of the goal. We have players who can hold on to the ball well in the centre of the pitch and players who can play well down the wings, but very few of our players can draw out defenders while working the ball into the 18 yard box the way Buonanotte can.

Aside from Buonanotte, another player well worth mentioning from today was Mantalos. As is often the case, he showed yet again how desperately we miss his presence when hes not playing. The way he can so confidently keep the ball at his feet until the right moment to make a pass is a huge factor in so many of our plays and when hes in form, he is easily our main player in attack.

The two injuries we picked up today were pretty unfortunate, especially for Soiledis since he had a great start to the game. Aside from Soiledis, Kolovetsios was also injured early on but thankfully for us, both Cordero and Buonanotte managed to play the whole game without injuring themselves.

Today’s win puts eight points ahead of PAO and a comfortable thirteen points ahead of fifth placed Panionios. What this means for us is that if the playoffs were to start today, we would start with three points, Panathinaikos with one, and both PAOK and Panionios with none. At this point I really can’t see us dropping many points and I’m pretty confident we’ll be starting the playoffs with three points. Considering we might have to have our fans banned from some of the home games during the playoffs, any point advantage we can get could potentially go a long way.

Highlights as usual at the NovaSport page below:

http://aek365.novasports.gr

AEK 1-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Dellas, Derby, football, Greek Football, Keepers, PAOK, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2016 by alexaek

After three attempts this season we’ve finally managed to win a derby, and an important one too. It was a scrappy game, one where we certainly could have done a lot of things better, but the three points against PAOK could not have come at a better time.

The win puts us at 39 points, 4 points ahead of PAO and 6 ahead of PAOK. Considering both those teams have been shaky at best lately and we seem to have found some good form since the start of the year, we have now put ourselves in a great position to make sure we get the best start we can to the playoffs… assuming we can continue to get the results like we have been lately.

The game was our sixth win in a row for 2016 (including cup games) and while it has given us a lot to celebrate, including yet another game without conceeding and the first time this season that we managed to get a win against a team in the top five, it also showed we still have a lot to worry about. Normally I have a hard time narrowing down where exactly I should start when bringing up the negatives, but for yesterday’s game, the biggest concern was clear: Arzo.

I remember I wasn’t the only one who wondered why Dellas never really gave him much of a chance, but people were always suggesting that Dellas of all people would know whether a center back was good enough to play or not. While I admit Dellas may have not been perfect, it seems he was certainly right about Arzo: I wanted him to be given a chance, but yesterday’s game proved he just isn’t good enough. One website even sarcastically, though fairly accurately, said that he was PAOK’s best player. It seems as though he just can’t think fast enough when the pressure is on him, leading him to either take too long to make a decision or, when he does decide to act quick enough, leading to sloppy plays which more often than not result in lose balls which PAOK attackers were able to latch onto all too quickly. With some teams, his poor decision making is less apparent as the players are simply not good enough to latch onto the errors he makes. Against PAOK however, that simply wasn’t the case. Rodriguez, easily PAOK’s most dangerous player offensively, was quick and aggressive in attack and was able to pressure Arzo throughout the game forcing mistakes or sloppy clearances. Bottom line is as a center back, someone playing in a role where you need to be solid and sure of what you’re doing as the last line of defense, he simply was not anywhere near good enough yesterday. It does not help that all other center back options we have are relatively young and unexperienced.

We were also pretty sloppy in attack unfortunately, and it made for a rather dull game with few solid chances. Sure we managed to move the ball forward often enough, and we certainly showed enough attacking intent, but in the final third we couldn’t get anything to work. Chance after chance near or in the box was ruined due to a poor pass or a poor finish, something which I can’t help but feel must be related to a psychological issue that seems to be affecting the team as a whole. I’m hoping yesterday’s win will help with our derby performances in the upcoming games, but it still seems as though whenever we have a big game, our concentration and nerve take a big hit.

Simoes got the man of the match award, and he certainly deserved it. Time after time he came back and provided the much needed cover for our defenders, making some critical tackles and constantly covering our half of the pitch. Without him, I’m not convinced we would have come out of the game without conceding from PAOK’s attacking surge towards the last twenty minutes of the game. Anestis was also phenomenal and has proven yet again to Poyet and the fans that he deserves to be considered for the starting lineup, even when Baroja returns from injury. He was solid during one on one situations, handled the far shots well and, most importantly, was able to keep calm during corners and free kicks.

Overall not the best game but I’m certainly relieved we got the points. I’m really hoping this win will give us the confidence we need to face the next two derbies (Olympiakos three weeks from now and PAO at the end of February) since I genuinely see no reason we can’t win against PAO and at least get a draw against Olympiakos.

Highlights as usual for our league games can be found on the Novasports page for AEK.

 

PAS Giannina 0-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Dellas, Derby, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Keepers, PAOK, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2016 by alexaek

Our fantastic start to 2016 got even better after we got an important three points away against in cold and wet Northern Greece. Conditions for the match were less than ideal as the rain that had fallen the previous couple of days meant the pitch was in terrible shape, but our players handled the situation very well. In fact, with how well they were moving the ball around at times I often forgot that there was even anything wrong with the pitch.

It was a good game from most of the team though there were certainly a few players who never really managed to get into the game. From what I could see, Djebbour especially stood out. From the moment he came on in the second half, I rarely saw him make any effort. I hardly even saw him run as he spent most of his time taking jogging slowly and idly around the pitch, almost as if he wasn’t even really aware of what was going on around him. He  can play, we all know it, but the effort he gives, especially beside someone who never stops like Aravidis, is disappointing. I know he’s always been like this, but it seems to be getting worse, to the point where its really not worth playing him. I’d much rather we call up someone from our academy or make a cheap singing of another striker from the Superleague rather than play Djebbour when he’s being a spectator the way he is.

Another player who disappointed me yet again was Vargas. Sure he scored the goal, but I hardly see him contribute aside from scoring. When he has players like Simoes and Johansson around him, players who are constantly getting involved, he really has to carry his weight some more. Otherwise, it just ends up holding Simoes and Johansson back and ends up giving them one less option, options we desperately need when we play against a team that defends like PAS.

Defensively I thought we were mediocre today, not terrible but we certainly still allowed PAS far too much time near our goal. PAS do have a good team for sure, but we need to be able to hold back teams a lot better than we do. We need to be able to apply more pressure but without leaving ourselves too vulnerable, something we can’t quite do yet with the centre backs we have. It too often seems to be one or the other; either we apply some pressure and end up leaving ourselves vulnerable and open at the back, or we hold back but then end up giving our opposition too much time on the ball and too much time to form an attack. Hopefully we sign a more experienced centre back soon to help us a bit, its been far too long since we had players like Dellas or Kyrgiakos back there.

Players who stood for me were Johansson (is anybody surprised?), Simoes, and Barbosa, all players who seem to have settled very well into the positions Poyet is playing them in. However, most of my credit and praise has to go to Anestis. For the second game in a row he saved a penalty, a penalty which could have tied the game for PAS. He also managed to keep a clean sheet again (in fact, in the five games we’ve played in 2016, hes only conceeded once) and just generally had a solid game. I saw one corner where he seemed a bit shaky but otherwise, he did everything he had to which is all we can ask of him at this point. Without a doubt his confidence is skyrocketting and I can only hope he continues to keep it up. Of course, his real test will be next weekend against PAOK, a game we absolutely must win.

All in all it was a good performance. By no means was it perfect, but we did what we had to, getting the three points away at a difficult team. The three points meant even more after PAO dropped points at home to Panionios, drawing 0-0. That draw now means we are four points ahead with 36 points while PAO have 32. PAOK also have 32 (though they’ve also played a game less), so a win for us in the derby next weekend will mean we keep our distance between us and PAOK as well.

Highlights, as usual, can be found on the NovaSports site here: http://aek365.novasports.gr

 

Unfortunately, our basketball team had a far more disappointing weekend. We played PAOK away, a game I was worried about. We’ve already beaten them this season, and I feel we have a slightly better team, but an away game against PAOK will never be easy.

The game started off well, almost too well. I woke up about a quarter of the way through the game to find that we were not only winning, but we were winning by 20 points. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I quickly got out of bed and set myself up with a stream in time to catch the third and fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it was then that things took a very quick turn for the worse. Just like that, PAOK had managed to close the gap. All of a sudden they were outplaying us, and we could hardly handle them. Too make things worse, our shooting (which was pretty good for the first two quarters) became terrible, with three pointer after three pointer missing the target. It was painful to watch, seeing us miss all these three pointers rather than just trying to go for the safer two pointers. I could quite tell if the team was told to go for three, or they just couldn’t break PAOK’s defense enough to be able to get close enough for any safe two pointers. Either way, it was not nice to watch. Sure enough, with just a couple minutes to go, PAOK managed to claw their way back into the lead for good, winning the game 79-75. We’re still in third place but with Aris’ loss and a win over PAOK, we would have been able to put some good distance between us fourth place. It was a terrible game to watch, but I’m hoping the team can learn something from it.

Panionios 1-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Greek Super League, Superleague with tags , on December 13, 2015 by alexaek

Not the result we needed if we wanted to secure our spot in second place for another week, especially not with PAO getting a 2-0 win against Tripolis.

I wasn’t able to watch the game unfortunately since I was stuck writing an exam, but from what I’ve read, it seems like we could have ended up with a different result than what we got. Of course I don’t like to blame our results on the referees, but the officiating at yesterday’s game was pretty terrible (surprised? I’m not). Among his two worst mistakes from what I could see watching the highlights were his decision not to call a penalty when Johansson was tripped in the box, and disallowing our goal towards the end. Now, the second call, regarding our disallowed goal, I could perhaps very slightly understand it. Watching the replay, I’m convinced there was no actual shoving on the Panionios player, but Lambropoulos did have his hands out as if he was pushing on the Panionios defender’s back. It seemed like a clear dive from what I’ve seen but I suppose its possible that the ref saw some contact there.

The first call though, not awarding a penalty to us when Johansson was clearly tripped in the box, is a joke. There are three instances from the one defender when the ref could have called a penalty, and he was about five meters from the play at any given time. I cannot understand how there was no contact seen from the ref on the play, it just doesn’t make sense. As our players and staff said, that play was pretty big. He awards the penalty, we score, its a different game.

I haven’t been able to see the play where Arzo got his first yellow card, I’ve read that it was also a poor call, but as I haven’t actually seen it myself, I can’t really comment. His tackle for his second yellow though was the right call to the ref’s credit though. I don’t know why Arzo, having already received a yellow, would go in and make a challenge like that. Not only was it reckless, but it could have easily been avoided. I was quite happy with Arzo’s performance last game (though we were playing a far weaker team), but he seemed terrible yesterday. Not only was his tackle for his red card reckless and uncalled for, but he also should have done much better on the play where Panionios scored. Clearly his choices lately have not been the best since he really should have stuck with the attacker and forced him away from the box rather than going in for a pointless challenge so early and letting the attacker get away from him so easily. I remember a few weeks ago, Arzo made some comment sort of suggesting that he was almost too good for the team, but he certainly not making a good impression with his performance from yesterday.

Something else worth pointing out was Djebbour’s reaction after he got subbed off. I’m not surprised he acted like that, its Djebbour afterall, but there is no excuse for that. None at all, and I hope management have a word with him (not that I expect it to accomplish much). That’s not the kind of attitude we need, especially not when the team is already under enough pressure.

Highlights: http://aek365.novasports.gr

As I mentioned above, PAO won today which means they are now second with 28 points, one more point than us. Both PAO and AEK have relatively easy games next week, the last games before the Christmas break, but its possible either team could drop some points. Panthrakikos, PAO’s opposition next week, have had some decent performances lately (narrow 3-4 loss to Oly, 0-0 draw away against Iraklis, and a 2-1 away win against Atromitos), so its definitely possible they could sneak away with a point from the game. Levadeiakos, our opponents next week, have also had some decent games with a 1-0 win against Xanthi and 1-0 away against PAS, so I don’t anticipate that being a particularly easy match either.

AEK 5-1 Iraklis

Posted in AEK, Greek Cup, Manager, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by alexaek

Despite all the events of the past week, AEK managed to rebound in the best possible way. Not only did we manage to get the three points from the win, but we did it by playing some great football and scoring the most goals we’ve scored in one game for many years now.

I was somewhat nervous about the game for a few reasons. First of all, regardless of the fact that Iraklis also just came up from the second division, they are a team that can never be taken lightly. Plus, having just lost our coach, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction the players were going to have. I’m very happy to see they were able to respond positively since I feel that it shows that the team definitely has some character. To come back from a heavy loss to our rivals and having your coach resign two days later, to come back from all that and play some of the best football they’ve played yet this season shows that there is definitely something good to build on with this team.

I only managed to have a working stream for part of the second half so I unfortunately missed all of our goals as they happened. I was able to follow the commentary online and on the radio though, and while it certainly helped that Iraklis were clearly not having a great day, there was no doubt that our attacking play was quite good. We seemed to have a lot of players who all found their form at once such as Barbosa and Vargas, but the key to this game was Mantalos. He didn’t manage to score a goal himself (though he did come close on a nice shot from far out), but he was heavily involved in almost all of the goals we scored. The game showed us just how important a role he can play when he is fit and in form and while it gives me some relief knowing we can make and finish chances, I also feel like we have such a wasted opportunity. With a player like Mantalos, who is able to read and set up plays so well, its such a shame that we did not invest a little more in some solid strikers, people who could latch on to the balls he sends in and finish consistently.

I’m not too sure how we looked defensively, partly because Iraklis had so few opportunities to create anything dangerous in our own ends. Kolovetsios played instead of Tzanetopoulos for the game, so I’ll be interested to see if Manolas sticks with Kolovetsios for the cup game this week as well.

Our next two games are a cup game away to Xanthi, and PAO away. Two tough games, but I’m actually confident we can get anywhere from four to six points of the two games. Xanthi will be tough but I feel like something special clicked last game and I certainly hope we can carry the momentum through to that game too. We’ve already played Xanthi away this season and while we didn’t end up scoring, we weren’t exactly outplayed either. With Mantalos on form, I’m sure we can get the win.

I’m without a doubt worried about the PAO game away, but PAO lost 3-1 today to PAOK, and derbies can always go either way. PAO’s form is nothing exceptional, and I actually don’t think they have a particularly great team this season. They’ll have  the advantage of playing at home, and they definitely have a few solid players, but I think if we play well then we can definitely compete pretty evenly with them.

For those who haven’t been following the news lately regarding our coaching situation, we are supposedly pretty close to signing Gus Poyet as our next manager. I’m not entirely familiar with him, but I know he has some experience in the Premier League which can’t be a bad thing. I know some people were hoping for a manager with more experience, but perhaps having someone younger with some Premier League experience might benefit us more in the end, especially as far as attracting new players is concerned. I’m hoping something will be wrapped up in the next few days, but on the other hand I like what Manolas did for our game against Iraklis (even though it was quite similar to the team Dellas was fielding) so I wouldn’t mind seeing him continue until just past the PAO game. I’m a bit worried that having a new coach come in now before such important games might affect the players a bit.

http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/sport/football/sunderland-afc/sunderland-ex-manager-gus-poyet-wanted-by-aek-athens-1-7533800

PAOK 2-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, Derby, PAOK, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by alexaek

I want to start off this post on a positive. Sure the loss in a derby never sits well with me, and I definitely expected more from the team, but this result is a badly needed wake up call for our team. Do we have some talented players? Absolutely? Do we have a good team? I think so. Is our team ready to be a top three team in this league? I’m afraid not. Yesterday’s loss exposed a lot to the fans, the players, and Dellas and while its unfortunate that it happened against PAOK, I’d rather it happen early in the season against PAOK, rather than later in the season against a team like PAO or Olympiakos.

I didn’t get to watch the game again, but I managed to follow it and the commentary the entire time just kept getting worse and worse. I really can’t say what was to blame the most. Was it the pressure of playing a derby in Toumba, was it a little too much confidence going into the game, was it Dellas’ formation and player choices? Who knows. I personally am not going to place much blame on Dellas. From what I was reading on the commentary, our players were capable of pretty much nothing on the pitch compared to PAOK. We barely won any 50/50 balls, we were sloppy defensively, we couldn’t hold on to possesion, and when we did manage to get the ball we weren’t able to do anything with it going forward.

What scares me a lot is all this sounds a lot like how we were in our 0-0 draw to Xanthi earlier in the season. I certainly hope not. This is not the 2nd or 3rd division anymore. Every sloppy game we play, we will get punished for it.

What I’m struggling to understand from our performance yesterday is how the entire team, aside from Baroja (I shudder when I think about what the final score would have been had we had a different keeper in nets), could all simultaneously have such a bad day. Even Johansson, who is normally such a rock for us in central mid, was doing nothing at all. When the entire team is off there game, I can’t help but feel like there is some overall psychological factor at play here. Sure it was our first real derby, but I can’t really see how that is any excuse. Many of these players here played during our 1-1 against Olympiakos in Karaiskaki, and those who hadn’t would have played derbies in other leagues at some point in their careers.

I can’t imagine over confidence being a factor either since to be honest, the team really has no reason to be overly confident in themeselves. Sure they’ve had a few decent performances against the smaller teams of the league, but they’ve yet to really prove that they have what it takes to be in the top three of the league, let alone the best.

I don’t know, I’m lost for words really. But, like I said above, its a good wakeup call for the team, and I’m sure we’ll rebound from it. I know we have a defense capable of being organized and stopping any attack in this league, I know we have a midfield that can break up plays and start them, and I know we have the attack required to score a few goals. I’m not worried, I’m really not. If we have a few more games like this, maybe I will start to worry a bit. But we’re still a new team, a team that’s still trying to figure things out.

Unfortunately the highlight video on nova’s website doesn’t seem to be working, so I’ll post a video of the goals here from youtube in the meantime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXj9WDgeRLs

A couple things worth noting from the video: 1), as the commentator mentioned, before our goal we had only three chances, all of which came from set plays. Shows just how lackluster how offense was. 2), we wore our alternate kits today, and I gotta say they look pretty gorgeous in my opinion. Nike is definitely a keeper as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather they keep things simple but with good colours, the way they seem to be doing so far, compared to the overly complicated and ultimately unconvincing designs Puma gave us a couple seasons.

Something else to note from the game is that Simoes seems to have picked up an injury. Not sure how serious it is yet, though I do know that he missed today’s training session. I’m really hoping its not too bad, losing him would be a pretty big blow to the team.