Archive for Anestis

Milan 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK Players, AEK, AEK Athens FC, 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..

 

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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 Alone in First

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on September 19, 2017 by alexaek

Lamia 0-1 AEK

A late (and somewhat fortunate) penalty turned out to be the difference for AEK after a game which saw many chances but few goals thanks to some great goalkeeping by Lamia’s Papadopoulos.

It wasn’t a great game but it did provide some entertainment as both sides had their chances to score. Lamia deserve credit for the game because despite being outplayed they still managed to look dangerous at times and were well disciplined defensively. While we did come away with the win, the game gives Jimenez something to think about as we play Lamia again two days from now in our first cup game of the season.

Anestis had a good game, dealing with whatever was thrown his way and our defense was also pretty solid in the centre though I feel like our left wing was left exposed a little too often. Offense wise, it wasn’t a consistent effort from the group. On the one hand, players like Mantalos, Araujo, Livaja, and Lazaros all had pretty good games while both Bakasetas and Klonaridis contributed very little to our attack. I would be a bit worried if I were Bakasetas or Klonaridis because its only a matter of time until Araujo and Livaja are considered for the starting position. On top of that, Giakoumakis should be returning from injury at some point which will create even more competition for spots in our offense.

Much of the talk in the press over the past couple of days revolved around the fact that our penalty should have only been a free kick, and there is definitely some truth to that. I’ll be the first to admit that I think it was a bad call, but if I remember correctly, Lamia’s Pito also should have received a red card so it wouldn’t exactly be right to claim that only AEK benefited from the officiating. Either way the result is what it is and because of it we now find ourselves in first place with 10 points. After four games we are still yet to concede a goal and its looking more and more like we’ll have a very good chance against Olympiakos this sunday. A win on sunday would put us five points clear of Olympiakos which would be an amazing position to be in this early in the season. Its worth noting that Olympiakos play Juventus in the Champions League just a few days after they play us so its safe to say that game might be on their minds which will hopefully affect how they prepare for us. Its also safe to say that their form is anything but stellar after a home loss in the champions league and two straight draws in the Championship.

AEK Start Season With a Win

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , on August 20, 2017 by alexaek

A 2-0 win today means that we get off to a good start this season, although the game wasn’t exactly pretty for much of the time.

We got off to a pretty good start after Traustason was brought down in the box which resulted in a penalty being awarded to AEK. Marcos Paulo was lucky to get only a yellow when he really should have been sent off, but Panaitolikos weren’t so fortunate as Almedia comfortably converted the penalty shot to put us ahead fourteen minutes in.

The game never really picked up from then on for either side though Panaitolikos did come close on a couple occasions. The next real turning point came when Almeida was sent off with a straight red for elbowing Chantakia in the face. At first I thought that it was a harsh decision but the more I look at the replays, the more it seems like the right call. Either way it really wasn’t a smart move by Almeida as the red gave Panaitolikos some new found energy which they quickly converted into more chances. Some poor finishing on Panaitolikos’ part along with some good saves by Anestis were pretty much all that kept us in the game for the remainder of the first half.

The second half saw another red, this time for Panaitolikos after Marcos Paulo received a second yellow. It was at this point where the balance started to tip in AEK’s favour again, ultimately resulting in a second goal for AEK. Johansson was the scorer after Mantalos sent a pass across to the Swede across an empty goal. The goal was originally called back supposedly for offside, leaving myself and the commentators rather confused. Thankfully the decision was overturned and the goal ultimately awarded to AEK after replays showed that there was no offside and no foul on the play. It was nice to see that instant replays, which are being piloted in the Greek and Russian leagues at the moment, might actually work in Greece.

The game ultimately ended 2-0 and while it wasn’t always pretty, its a great three points to start the season off with. The game was played in an empty OAKA as a punishment for the incidents that took place in last season’s Cup Final so to come away with a win without home support and playing a man down for much of the first half was a relief.

Overall I’d have to say that Anestis actually looked pretty good, and our defense wasn’t terrible. It was our offense that really let us down again, just as in the games against CSKA. We struggled to really create many worthwhile chances and there was an obvious lack of creativity going forward. Even the set plays were a disappointment as they more often than not ended up being intercepted by a defender. We might be lucky to get the three points today but without a noticeable improvement to our offense I can see us struggling to score goals against a lot of teams in the league this season. Araujo would be a great addition to the club right about now…

Club Brugge 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Europa League, football with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2017 by alexaek

It was a stalemate today in Brugge despite both teams coming close to scoring on a number of chances. Perhaps a disappointing result in terms of excitement, but its definitely a result which puts us in a good position to advance further in the Europa League. The result certainly doesn’t guarantee anything but starting on equal footing at home after a promising performance in the first leg sets us up nicely.

It was definitely an improved performance over how we played against CSKA based on what I’ve been reading and seeing in highlights. Even Anestis managed to have a solid outing despite some shaky games against CSKA in which his judgment left much to be desired. All in all it sounds like the entire team put in a good showing today aside from Klonaridis, though if I remember correctly I read an article which stated that he was playing with an injury.

As I was following the commentary it definitely seemed like we started strong. Unlike our matches against CSKA though, we were able to create some quality chances today. It was nice to see some creativity from the team too, something which goes to show that the chemistry might have improved considerably compared to our previous two matches. Jimenez even mentioned after the match that even though the team might still be lacking in a couple areas, they’re certainly playing with passion and grit.

Some nice highlights in the video below though my personal favourite would have to be that chance off the free kick right at the end. Had that managed to sneak in it would have been the perfect way to end a match. You’ll also notice during the highlights that Livaja got sent off in the 58th minute. I couldn’t see any legitimate cause for a second yellow and AEK365 seemed to feel the same way. Its unfortunate that we’ll miss him for the next match as he seemed to have played a good match today, but I’m sure Jimenez can work something out. Lazaros could start in his position next week or perhasps we can even see Giakoumakis being given a chance.

AEK 0-1 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2017 by alexaek

The other day, Fourtounis made a comment claiming that on Wednesday (today), Olympiakos would “show which team is the best”. Now I’m kind of confused about this because surely, “the best” team would be the team that made it to the Cup Final? But in this case, Olympiakos didn’t in fact make it to the Final, so how can they be the best? Maybe Fourtounis was stuck in a little day dream where he imagined himself in a black and yellow jersey, celebrating in front of 50,000 supporters as he and his team booked their place in the finals:

All kidding aside, it has to be said that today’s performance wasn’t the greatest. We definitely created some chances but we left a lot to be desired and its really only thanks to Olympiakos’ inability to create anything worthwhile that we got away with the result we were looking for. Its unfortunate really since I was really expecting a win. Maybe not a blowout, but I was anticipating a 1-0 game for us, just something to really seal the deal without causing too much trouble.

But hey, why focus on the negatives you might ask? I don’t really plan on it, we just booked our ticket to the 23rd Cup final in AEK’s history so I really don’t have much to complain about. Having said that, we’ll definitely need to look better in the Final regardless of whether we play Panathinaikos or PAOK. At the end of the day though, its a Cup final and just being a part of it will give our players the energy and drive to give the best that they have to offer.

There were some interesting points to take from the match that deserve some attention, the first of which regards Vranjes. I love the guy and his passion, he clearly relishes the opportunity to play for AEK and even more so when a big game comes around. Having said that, he’ll have to be careful when the final comes around. He was close to getting sent off today and it took the intervention of his own teammates to make sure he didn’t go off the rails.

Its also worth noting the Anestis, who actually had a pretty solid game, got sent off in extra time. To be honest, he was quite clearly wasting time so I feel like the ref wasn’t left with much choice. What was particularly amusing about this situation was the fact that we had no remaining substitutions at that point which resulted in Almeida playing goal for the remaining few minutes. Luckily, he wasn’t really tested.

As is typical with games involving Olympiakos (particularly games in which the result doesn’t go Olympiakos’ way), a number of the higher profile members of the organization had some comments to make about what took place. In classic Savvas fashion, he came out with some very valid points about the officiating today, claiming that it was 80-20 in favour of AEK. I think he has a point, after all how can this reckless tackle on Ansarifard not be called as a penalty for Olympiakos:

Part of me wishes that Savvas never opens his mouth again but then the other part of me will miss his weekly comedy routine. 80-20 in favour of AEK, while giving five minutes of extra time and then another five minutes on top of that, and a red card to AEK’s keeper… I’ve doubted it for a while but now I really can’t believe that Savvas and his crew over at Olympiakos are actually serious.

Enough about them though, how about our supporters and the atmosphere they created in OAKA this evening? The scenes from the game earlier today really make me miss Athens… Definitely my favourite banner this season:

The photos below come from AEK365 and can be seen here as well:

Beautiful scenes as always. And now, the final! At the moment its scheduled for May 6th, but we won’t know until tomorrow whether we will face Panathinaikos or PAOK. To be honest, I don’t see PAOK turning around their two goal deficit to Panathinaikos, but it can definitely happen.

 

Well That Was Painful…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2016 by alexaek

AEK 2-2 Atromitos

So far this season we have played four games at home for the league. These games were against respectable but seemingly beatable opposition: Xanthi, Iraklis, Panionios, and Atromitos. Aside from the first game, when we beat Xanthi 4-1, what do the last three home games have in common? They all ended in draws..

While a draw at home against a weaker team is never easy to swallow, today’s draw was really something else all together. I didn’t watch it (thankfully?), but the game got off to a phenomenal start with Mantalos scoring early. We played well from that point on and though Atromitos had some chances, it was finally looking as though the team was finding some confidence. We were rewarded for playing so well when Patito added a second for AEK with a beautifully placed shot that left the keeper with no chance.

At this point I was pretty happy. It sounded like we were playing well, we were so close to grabbing a crucial three points, and it started to look as though we might have just found some good form heading into our derby with PAO two weekends from now… Ah but this AEK were talking about after all. If this team has been consistent with one thing all season, its the fact that we so often find a way to make things more difficult for ourselves.

At around the 72nd minute I looked at my phone to check the score and I see that Atromitos had scored to make it 2-1. I wasn’t worried at this point, although I realize now that was a mistake. A few minutes later I check again expecting to see the same score, or even possibly 3-1 for AEK but instead I see 2-2. Surely I think to myself “we couldn’t possibly have let a 2-0 lead vanish at home?” but then I read AEK365’s description of the second goal and it all makes sense. Yep, another completely avoidable error by Anestis.

Coming into this season I had no problem with us keeping Anestis as our starting keeper. Sure he made some very costly errors the years before but he had finally started to show some maturity with his playing. I felt as though he might have been learning from his mistakes, improving his decision making, that sort of thing. Then Atromitos’ second goal today makes me have to question all of that. The goal he let in simply should not ever have happened. Not in a friendly, not in a Cup game where we were winning by a few goals, and certainly not in a league game where we have a fragile one goal lead and desperately need all the points we can get.

All in all I really don’t know what to feel about this game. Its a terrible result, but we did play quite well for 70 minutes. If Anestis never lets in that second goal and we finish the game with a 2-1 win, there would be a very different mood among the team and the supporters back in Greece. Instead, we now go into an extremely difficult derby with the fans doubting the team and perhaps the team doubting itself.

It has to be said that Anestis does not deserve all the blame (well, maybe he does). Afterall all the hype that surrounded Almeida after the first goal this season, what exactly has he done to contribute to the team this season? I want to see him succeed as much as anyone, but it sounded like he missed goals today that he really should not be missing. He is not a cheap player to keep on the team and I can’t help but feel as though perhaps there might be some young Greek talent out there that we could have on the team in his place at times. Experience helps, but it can only go so far when it isn’t actually contributing to results on the pitch.

Well, thats my “rant” for the day. It didn’t help that the hockey game I was at today saw the home team I was rooting for (the Ottawa 67s) go up 2-0 only to lose the game… 2-5. Thankfully the score for AEK’s game today didn’t quite end the same way, but seeing a 2-0 lead quickly diminish in front of my eyes while the same thing was happening with AEK in Athens was not exactly how I was hoping to spend my saturday…

Highlights, as usual, on the Novasports site (worth watching for Patito’s goal… and the Anestis blunder if you want something to make you chuckle). http://aek365.novasports.gr

At Least Our Basketball Team is Still Doing Well

What would I do if the basketball team was in the same shape our football club is. Its never easy being an AEK supporter, but its nice knowing that the basketball team can go into almost any match and expect to be competitive.

Today’s match, which ended in a 80-62 win over Rethymno was our fifth win from five games so far this season. It was another crucial win and one which puts us in first, for now at least, with 10 points. Next weekend is a huge one for us as take on PAOK up in Thessaloniki. It won’t be easy, but I’m confident we can, if anything, give PAOK a run for their money. A win in Thessaloniki would go a long way in confirming that we are on the right track.