Archive for AEK

Promising Start to 2019

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Champions League, Greek Football with tags , , , on January 20, 2019 by alexaek

Well, its been a while since I’ve posted anything (almost two months in fact) and I’ll be honest, a big reason for the lack of posts had to due with the disappointing way that this season started. Its one thing for a season to not go your way, but it was annoying to see considering the positive way we left off last season. We had a championship winning team, and a team that was successful in Europe, overall a team that was a great starting point for more success.

Instead, we got off to an awful first half of the season, and our Champions League campaign was about as embarrassing as it could have been. Nonetheless, that is all behind us and while the championship is all but out of reach for this season, it would be nice to see us at least end the second half of this season on a high. Thankfully, we’ve started the year off right, with a convincing 4-0 away win in Giannena (a stadium in which the wins never come easy) and then today’s 3-0 win over Asteras.

I missed the first 30 minutes of today’s game and just my luck, that was when all the goals were scored. What I managed to see though was fairly promising. I don’t want to read too much in to today’s result though since though we may have played alright, its worth noting that Asteras were pretty awful and not the Asteras team that I’m used to seeing. In either case, to start off the second half of the season with 7 goals for and none against is always a good sign. Funny thing is, we didn’t really end up changing the roster much over the break. We did sign Serbian midfielder Nenad Kristicic over the holidays and a few junior players, though our roster for the first two league games of 2019 remains pretty much unchanged compared to what we were used to seeing in the later part of 2018.

Maybe the holidays gave the player’s time to regroup, or maybe Marinos decided to try out some new things in training. Whatever the case, we seem to be able to find ways to score goals and get results now, something which we were struggling with coming into 2019.

Having said all that, we’re only two games into 2019 and we haven’t really played a stronger team yet. Next week’s game against Panionios will be a bit more of a challenge, but its the match against PAOK, February 3rd, where we’ll really see if things have changed for the better. PAOK’s good form has kept up so far after they’ve managed to start 2019 with two 3-0 victories, all this despite trading Prijovic.

Our win today sees us move into 3rd place, courtesy of Atromitos’ loss to Xanthi. Not that 3rd place is much consolation considering 2nd is still 6 points away and first is 14 points away..

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Further Disappointment and Defeat for AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League with tags , , , on November 27, 2018 by alexaek

I’m sure most AEK fans were like me, silently wishing this season wouldn’t get any worse. Well, it has and I don’t see any sign of it getting any better.

This weekend saw us lose 2-1 to Panaitolikos, a loss which dropped us down to 7th in the league. The loss also means we stay stuck on 17 points and after a quick glance at the table, its pretty alarming to see that we are almost as close points wise to last place Apollon as we are to 1st place PAOK. Not really where you expect to see last season’s Champions eh?

As if the loss wasn’t disappointing enough, we found out a few days later that Bakasetas, Lambropoulos, and Simoes are unlikely to feature in the roster any longer after they weren’t able to agree on new deals with the team. It seems as though Bakasetas and Lambropoulos, on top of not agreeing to a new contract, are also holding out for deals with teams outside of Greece. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same be true for Simoes. Its disappointing, if nothing other than for the fact that all three players were so critical in our success over the last two seasons. At this point, we really don’t have the depth on our roster to be able to afford losing all three, so this will certainly be another blow to the team.

Well, as if the few days leading up to our Champions League clash with Ajax weren’t disappointing enough, all of the previous events were topped off with a 2-0 loss to Ajax in Athens. Yep, that’s yet another Champions League game that ended in a loss and at this rate, it looks like we won’t even manage to score a single point this season. Don’t get me wrong, we were never favourites in this group. But not even a single point? I wasn’t even expecting that…

Of course, everyone online is demanding that Ouzounidis be fired and while I don’t know if that will do any good at this point, its not surprising that we’ve reached that point. I mean, its not even Christmas and we’re already out of the Championship and European football, and the Cup is hardly and consolation considering the expectations that we had prior to the start of the season. But looking back, I guess I can’t say I’m all that surprised. What did we do during the off-season to improve the team? Realistically, not much at all. In fact, I think its quite clear now that we’ve taken a few steps back.

Ouzounidis wasn’t a bad move, at least I didn’t think so at the time, but its hard to replace a character and coach like Jimenez. And as for the players, well aside from losing some of the best players we had last season, all we did was add a few promising youngsters with little professional experience. So to be at the stage we’re at now, I guess nobody can really be surprised. Disappointed? Sure, but definitely not surprised.

Should we get rid of Ouzounidis now? I don’t know, its hard to know if its really worth it. We can’t get anything out of Europe now and I’d say the Championship is all but lost now. Honestly though I’d say for his own reputation he would be better off if he left. I still don’t think hes a bad coach, but he definitely wasn’t set up with a team to succeed this year. When you look at the way players like Simoes and Livaja have been playing this year, players who were amazing for us last year, its hard to really blame the coach. One thing worth keeping in mind though is that Jimenez is available again after being sacked early on by Las Palmas. Its probably too early to see him back with us for a third time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we do see him on the bench for us again at some point in the future.

AEK 0-2 Atromitos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Greek Super League with tags , , on November 11, 2018 by alexaek

Well, I think its safe to say that the Championship is over for us at this point. As is the Champions League following our 2-0 loss to Bayern earlier this week… I guess all we have to play for now is the Cup, a far cry from the position we found ourselves in last season.

Today’s loss leaves us on 17 points, well behind PAOK who are on 26 and Atromitos on 24. Olympiakos are still within touching distance in 3rd thanks to their 1-1 draw with PAO today, though that is little consolation to us considering the hopes we had for the team before the start of the season.

Today’s game was a frustrating one to follow. We were the better team for 80 minutes and had 3 posts during those first 80 minutes, but no goals to show for it. Then, a couple lapses in our defense in the dying minutes of the game an Atromitos found a way to get not only one but two in the back of our own net. Atromitos are a strong side this season so part of me isn’t all that surprised, but its still a tough one to swallow considering how close we came to finding the back of the net ourselves. Atromitos’ coach even conceded himself that his side were lucky not to go down by a goal or two earlier in the match. As Atromitos striker Koulouris said, they knew that the longer AEK went without scoring, the more they would open up and it ended up being our cross town opponents who were able to capitalize on their chances.

It never helps having to play a game in front of empty stands, especially in a stadium as massive and expansive as OAKA. I believe this should be our last match of the supporters ban so knowing that we’ll have supporters in the stands for our upcoming home games against Xanthi and Lamia is at least something to look forward to.

Panathinaikos 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Derby, Panathinaikos with tags , , , , , on November 3, 2018 by alexaek

The day got off to a promising start after PAOK only managed to draw 1-1 against Atromitos. A win for us then against Panathinaikos would have seen us make up some ground on PAOK and Atromitos, the two sides currently sitting ahead of us in 1st and 2nd place. Unfortunately we only managed a draw ourselves, and to be honest a draw was the most we deserved from the match.

We weren’t terribly outplayed, but we weren’t exactly the better side either. A few seasons ago a draw away to Panathinaikos might have been a decent result in certain circumstances but realistically, we should be winning comfortably against them at the moment considering we’re defending champions while they’re fielding arguably one of the most inexperienced Panathinaikos sides in recent memory. They deserve some credit considering they’ve defied expectations so far this season, but if we had the same squad we had last season, I would see this game ending in a comfortable 2-0 win for us.

Once again it came down to us just not being clinical in the attacking third of the pitch. We had some chances and half-chances fall our way but we very rarely looked like scoring. Its almost starting to seem as though our attackers are just lacking in any creativity since teams seem to have a much easier time in shutting us down this season compared to last.

Its especially disappointing to see yet another derby this season without a win for us, considering the success we had in derbies last season. In the three derbies we’ve played so far this season, we’ve only managed two draws and a loss. At least we know that two of those derbies were away, but those are valuable points dropped, points that could make a huge difference when it comes down to it.

Unfortunately we have another tough game against Atromitos next weekend but at least the rest of the schedule from that point on until Christmas is fairly light. At the moment though, I’m nervous about the Atromitos game. They’re a team who can always be tricky to play against but this season they’ve been particularly strong. A win would, as goes without saying,  a big result for us considering Oly play Panathinaikos next weekend as well, a game in which they could definitely drop some points.

AEK 4-0 Aris

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2018 by alexaek

After putting behind the disappointing loss to Bayern behind us, we managed to get back on track with a fairly easy 4-0 win over Aris. I wasn’t able to catch the game but what I’m reading so far is that we were actually fairly unimpressive in the first half before opening the game up in the second. Boye opened the scoring early on for us before Ponce added two more in the earlier part of the second half. Livaja finished off the scoring with a fairly routine finish.

While we may have scored a comfortable four goals, Aris seemed to have had their fair share of chances too. Had their finishing been a bit more clinical they could have tied the game up which would have made things a little more interesting. In either case, it was a vital three points in front of an empty stadium that keeps us within reach of PAOK. PAOK meanwhile have to face Panathinaikos tomorrow, a team that has been in surprisingly good form this season. While PAOK are still favourites for the match in my opinion, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if PAO pull off the draw, a result which would keep us at four points behind PAOK. Meanwhile, Oly are still three points behind us though they face Apollon Smyrni tomorrow, a team that has yet to win a game this season. Having said that, Oly played OFI last week and lost 1-0, granting OFI their first win of the season, so anything is possible at this point. Who knows, Apollon might be desperate enough for points that they may just throw everything they have at Oly.

All in all it was a good result for us, and one that we badly needed  considering we’re up against PAO next week. I’m definitely impressed and surprised by how well PAO are managing so far this season, but I’d like to think that the extra maturity and experience on our team should be enough to see us manage a win, even if we’re playing in PAO’s home.

AEK 0-2 Bayern Munich

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League with tags , , on October 24, 2018 by alexaek

The stage was set for what we were all hoping would be a memorable night, something like what we witnessed against Milan over a decade ago. 60,000 supporters had almost filled OAKA and the atmosphere, as to be expected, seemed pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, the result ultimately didn’t live up to all the hype leading up to the game. Realistically our chances were always pretty slim. Sure this Bayern team seems to be weaker this season than in the past, but our form in the Champions League has also been pretty weak over the previous two games. Bayern has also had their back against the wall lately as a result of their string of poor performances so its safe to say they were desperately looking for a win of their own.

Ultimately it all comes down to the fact that our squad just isn’t strong enough. Can we still compete for the Championship? Perhaps, but Champions League is a whole different level and when you lose three of your best players in Araujo, Lazaros, and Vranjes, and fail to replace them with someone just as good if not better, this is what happens.

Thankfully theres still a chance we could salvage 3rd place in the group. The chances are slim, but with us on 0 points and Benfica only on 3, anything can happen. Although, it doesn’t help that two of the remaining three games are away (in Munich and Lisbon).

Possibly the one good thing to take away from the match? The fact that we definitely have some of the best supporters in Europe:

Apollon Smirnis 0-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Greek Football with tags , , , on October 21, 2018 by alexaek

The last Superleague win for AEK came on the 29th of September when we beat OFI 3-0. It was a bit of a relief to see us return to winning ways then when we beat Apollon 2-0 yesterday through goals from Mantalos and Livaja. The match itself wasn’t as straight forward for AEK as I was expecting it to be. We were clearly the stronger side though Apollon were fairly tight in defense and managed a few attacks of their own. Our biggest downfall though was our decisiveness in front of goal, something that has been affecting us for the past month or two. We’ve got a good defense and our midfield is up to the task as well but it seems like we’re still missing one key ingredient up front.

Mantalos’ goal was a beauty and Livaja’s came as a huge relief since up until that point, I was slightly worried Apollon might snatch a last minute draw just like we did against Olympiakos a couple weeks back. Thankfully they didn’t, and we managed to grab an important 3 points. Olympiakos lost early today which keeps them near us in the standings though PAOK managed to win the Thesaloniki derby which unfortunately sees them move further ahead.

As some of you may have noticed already, we were recently docked 3 points for some fan incidents during the AEK – Olympiakos match. AEK’s appeal was rejected however the team is now taking the case to the CAS court with hopes of the punishment being deemed inappropriate. Olympiakos fans were also involved in some incidents following their loss to OFI today, so it will be interesting to the see how the League handles that, and whether they give them the same punishment as they did to us ( 3 point deduction and two games with no supporters). Many eyebrows will be raised if Olympiakos somehow manage to come away without any form of punishment similar to what we received.