AEK 0-1 Atromitos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos with tags , , , on October 23, 2017 by alexaek

After managing a rather respectful result in Milan last week, we got this week started off with an embarrassing result in Athens. A win today would have put us back in 1st but instead we find ourselves in 3rd with 3 other teams even on points.

It was a game we should have won on paper and judging from the stats, we really should have found a way to put at least one goal in the back of the net. 65% possession for AEK and 17 chances, 11 of which were on target? I don’t care how good Atromitos might have defended, theres no reason for AEK to not be able to score a single goal on Atromitos with 11 chances on net.

Its frustrating because we’ve seen this story with AEK before. Earlier this season we had the chance to go 1st but instead put in a disappointing performance to lose to Tripolis. Even during the 2007-2008 season we had the chance to seal 1st place and the championship but we lost games we really should have won and gave up points that we couldn’t afford to lose. We need to do something to make sure we can get this season back on track, even if that means making some more singings over winter. The simple fact is that the league is just too close this year to be able to risk anything or take any chances. How close? Two points separate 1st place and 6th place. There is absolutely no wiggle room and any points dropped at this stage are extremely costly.

All in all a disappointing result but to be honest, I was kind of expecting something like this to happen. We have a big chance to make a bit of an impact on the standings when we face Panionios this weekend and PAOK next weekend, but on the flip side those are two games which could see us slip further behind in the standings. The trouble is that we aren’t playing terribly in the sense that we’re creating chances. Just watching the highlights from today’s game shows just that. Our finishing is clearly whats hurting us though. Today’s game could have easily resulted in a win had we been a little more accurate which is frustrating to say the least, knowing that we were so close. A lot of it comes down to our attackers under performing, especially Araujo. We signed him with the expectation that he would finish most of the chances hes been having but hes been pretty disappointing on a number of occasions.

Oh well, nothing we can do about this one other than hopefully learn from our mistakes. I’m sure Jimenez will have the team working on their finishing because clearly we need to start seeing some improvement. 1 goal in our last 3 league games is simply not good enough if we realistically expect to challenge for the title.

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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..

 

Xanthi 1-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League with tags , , , , , , , on October 16, 2017 by alexaek

After our first loss of the season to Tripolis a couple weeks ago, its safe to say we were all hoping for a bounce back win to get our title push back on track. Well, all we got instead was a rather disappointing 1-1 draw. The point helps keep us within reach of PAOK as we only sit one point behind them in 2nd, but a win would have been just enough to keep us in 1st.

It was a frustrating game to watch to say the least, as the stats clearly suggest. Possession was 65% in our favour and we more than dominated in terms of creating chances: 4 for Xanthi and 18 for AEK (with 6 chances on target). Zivkovic was great in nets for Xanthi and it was just one of those days where the ball just didn’t want to go in the back of the net. It doesn’t help that Araujo clearly still hasn’t found some good form. I’m not sure if its the pressure of the expectations of last season, or if theres something else but I was expecting him to find some form by now. If he doesn’t find it soon we could be in trouble since hes naturally a big part of this team.

At the end of the day I can’t say I’m too surprised with the result. Xanthi is one of those towns along with Tripolis where we often seem to struggle. You just have to look back at our past games in Xanthi dating back to 2012 season and the results dont paint a very promising picture: One win, one loss, and four draws. All in all its not the end of the world for us just yet as we still have a three point buffer between us and Olympiakos, but we wont be this lucky for much longer. Olympiakos got their first win this weekend since the 26th of August but if past seasons are anything to go by, its only a matter of time until Olympiakos get back to winning form one way or another. We’ll also have to be weary of PAO who have managed to put together 2 consecutive wins for the first time this season and while they might not seem like a threat at the moment, they can’t be discounted quite yet.

 

As dissappointing as that result was, hopefully the team can put it behind them and focus on the upcoming match against AC Milan at the San Siro. We’ve never beat Milan away from home, and I’m sure they’ll be coming out to strong to make a good impression after their derby loss to Inter over the weekend. I know we have a good team, but I’m not expecting the three points here. Having said that, Rijeka managed to give them a hard time in Milan a few weeks ago, so perhaps they have some weakness we can take advantage of.

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.

AEK 2-2 Austria Wien

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League with tags , , , , on September 28, 2017 by alexaek

Not the result we were all hoping for considering the form we were in coming into the game, but all things considered it isn’t all that bad either. Milan’s narrow 3-2 win against Rijeka today means we’re still somewhat comfortably in 2nd place, 2 points behind Milan and 3 ahead of Wien.

Without having seen the game, it seems as though there are a few important points to highlight from the game:

  • The team were clearly tired. Its understandable considering the effort they gave during the game against Olympiakos. The pace was almost relentless that game aside from a few spells where it died down so naturally not everyone might have recovered fully in time for this game. Its unfortunate, but hopefully it won’t be as big an issue when we play a European game following a non-derby league game.
  • We had our chances. Overall we had 23 attempts, 11 of which were on target. Sounds much like the game against Olympiakos in fact. Its nice to know we’re creating chances and its only a matter of time until we get better (or luckier) at converting them. It didn’t help that Pentz, the Wien keeper, had an amazing night in goal.
  • Ajdarevic failed to impress yet again. This might come as no surprise now but its becoming increasingly clearer that he doesn’t really have a spot in the team. I’m hoping once Kone and Giakoumakis are match fit that maybe we’ll see less of him. Its unfortunate but every time hes on the pitch he contributes very little to the team. From what I’ve heard it was essentially as though he wasn’t even on the pitch. AEK365 even went as far as giving him a 2 out of 10 rating. Ouch…
  • Our attacking core is looking great. Mantalos, Lazaros, Livaja, and Araujo seem to be linking up together very nicely and the number of quality chances they’ve created lately suggests just that. What I especially like is the fact that any one of them can be dangerous on any given day.

Unfortunately we did see some injury scares today with Cosic going down early and being forced to be subbed off. I haven’t read yet how serious it is yet but I’m hoping he wont be out for long. We’re already stretched thin with our centre backs and considering its only a matter of time until Vranjes gets a red in the league, I can only hope he wont be out for too long.

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AEK 3-2 Olympiakos!!!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby with tags , , , , , , , on September 24, 2017 by alexaek

What a game! This is what derbies are all about. If there was any doubt prior to this game as to whether this team could legitimately challenge for the Championship, I think its safe to say that the doubt is now gone.

This game had it all. A great atmosphere, some great goals from both teams, some drama on and off the pitch, and one of the greatest AEK comebacks in recent memory. The excitement leading up to the match was huge, and the game lived up to it all.

Its worth remembering that this game wasn’t just about beating the most hated team in Greece. Winning this game means we now sit 5 points ahead of Olympiakos, alone in first place with 13 points.

All the talk leading up to the game was on the demand for tickets and while we might not have sold out OAKA, the crowd definitely made its presence felt. I don’t know the exact numbers but it looked like the crowd was anywhere between 35,000 to 40,000 strong.

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Its safe to say that nothing compares to the atmosphere of a derby. Photo from AEK365.com

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Photo from AEK365.com

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I thought the banner that originals made for today’s game looked particularly sharp. Photo from AEK365.com

 

As for the game itself, well, it was eventful. It had its ups and downs, it was unpredictable, and it was a very real reminder that this AEK team should be taken seriously by anyone who comes up against it. We started really well with plenty of pressure on the Olympiakos defense. It was clear from the get go which team wanted to win this game more and we had numerous chances early on to start the scoring early.

All the wind was taken out of our sails though when Olympiakos scored against the run of play. I’ll give Marin credit, his finish on the goal was real nice, but our defense fell asleep on that one. They should have been far more aware of the danger, especially considering that Marin is not a player to take lightly despite how Olympiakos might be playing. The first goal for Olympiakos came fairly early so we still had plenty of time to get back in the game, but we lost much of the momentum we built up earlier in the first half after they scored. We had our chances again but I started feeling like half time would be a blessing in disguise in the sense that it would give AEK a chance to regroup.

Unfortunately, any regrouping that might have been done during the break was quickly undone as Olympiakos scored again, this time just after the second half started. Again it was a pretty nice finish, but I feel like our defense could have done better then as well. To be fair to Anestis, there wasn’t much he could have done on either goal and he did make a huge save to keep us in the game earlier on as well.

Down 2-0, a lot of teams would have struggled to find a way back into the game. This AEK team is different though. Thankfully, we have a coach who knows how to read a situation well. At the start of the second half, he subbed on Livaja for Klonaridis, a move which proved to be critical. Klonaridis struggled to make any impact for the most of the game but Livaja brought new life to the team almost immediately.

We struggled to find a way past Kapino but eventually the breakthrough came in 64th minute when a beautifully controlled pass by Araujo found Lazaros alone in the box. Lazaros, who was easily the best player on the pitch today, put the shot away with a one timer that would ultimately open the flood gates.

It wasn’t a smooth road to the end however as some disturbances outside the pitch resulted in the police releasing numerous canisters worth of tear gas into the air. The wind carried the tear gas into the stadium itself leading to discomfort among supporters and players. Now I might not know what exactly was going on outside the pitch, and its certainly disappointing that events like that had to take place at a game like the one we saw today. However, it should be pointed out that perhaps the police could have dealt with the situation in a more suitable way rather than releasing large amounts of tear gas with about 40,000 mostly peaceful supporters just meters away.

Naturally, the tear gas resulted in the game being halted in the hopes that the air would clear enough. Thankfully it did and we were able to continue without too much of a break. It still took a little while for our next breakthrough to come but eventually it did in the 80th minute with some more magic from Lazaros. This time, he put the ball in the net from a free kick that was even prettier than the one he score against Rijeka. It was especially far from the area but he managed to take it so perfectly that there was no chance for Kapino to track its movement. We’ve seen many great free kick takers at AEK in the past like Rivaldo and Scocco but I’m not sure we’ll see a free kick more spectacular than the one we see today for quite a while.

At 2-2, I was quite honestly relieved. A draw would have been a disappointment, but at least it would have kept Olympiakos at bay. The team had other ideas though and it was clear they were going all in for the win. There was no reason for them not to though as Olympiakos were clearly stunned by what had happened and werent quite sure how to react. The fact that their manager got expelled from the game might or might not have made things worse for them but their nightmare really became reality when Mantalos tapped in a Livaja cross just before the 90 minute mark. It wasn’t the prettiest goal compared to what we saw earlier in the game, but it got the job done and ultimately sealed the three points and a remarkable comeback. The look on the faces of the Olympiakos players said it all as did the delirium coming from the AEK supporters.

Theres been lots of promise and hype surrounding AEK this season and this game validated a lot of it. As many people have said, it was one of the best derbies of recent years, up there with the 4-4 Cup final. We saw beautiful goals, nice flowing football, a great crowd, and even the officiating was pretty good (though I feel like Olympiakos could have received a red card earlier in the game). The icing on the cake is the fact that this game has also turned the situation for Olympiakos from bad to worse. Their coach has officially been fired and their collective mental state could not be any worse now going into their game against Juventus.

For us AEK supporters however, this game might be a glimpse of whats to come for AEK this season. If all goes well, we’ll see much more of what we saw today and if thats the case, this might very well be the best season AEK has seen since the early 90s. With a new stadium on its way and progress being made on the construction every day, its pretty safe to say that these are good times to be an AEK supporter. The supporters in Nea Filadelfia certainly thought the same after the game today:

AEK 2-0 Lamia

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2017 by alexaek

After facing Lamia for the second time in less than a week, we managed to come away with yet another win with a slightly more convincing scoreline.

I’m just watching the game now and while it might not have been the best game we’ve played this season, it wasn’t an awful performance. More importantly, it gets us an important first win in the Cup against a team that is the toughest opponent in our group (with the other two being Kallithea and Apollon Larissa).

The game featured many of our starters but we also saw from the likes of Tsintotas, Vinicius, and Traustason, all of whom had pretty decent games. We also saw some familiar sides amongst the opposition as both Alex Dacol and Chrisantus were part of the squad and both made their way onto the pitch later in the game as subs.

Today’s win was an important one for sure but its safe to say that the team’s focus was probably directed to the upcoming game against Olympiakos before the final whistle was even blown today. Ticket sales are looking pretty good so far with around 15,000 tickets having already been sold. Add into the equation the 11,000 season tickets and thats already about 25,000 supporters with over three days to go until the game. At this rate I can see anywhere between 40,000 and 50,000 in attendance on Sunday.