Archive for Araujo

AEK 3-1 Kerkyra

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Europa League with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2017 by alexaek

After another weekend of wins for Oly, PAOK, and Atromitos, the pressure was on AEK again today to get a win. Sure enough, they delivered yet again and for another week remain on top. Its still a fragile lead, with only one point separating us and Oly, but as long as we keep getting results I can’t complain.

Today’s match went as expected against second to last placed Kerkyra, although Kerkyra definitely didn’t get off to the start they had hoped for after their keeper scored an own goal to open the scoring for AEK. It all happened in the 11th minute when Lazaros had two chances to finish from point blank range but it was instead the keeper who ended up getting the ball into the back of the net.

Kone continued the scoring, scoring his first goal with AEK in over ten years. And what a goal it was; a poor clearance by Kerkyra landed right at Kone’s chest who with some great control and a beautiful finish lobbed the ball right out of the keeper’s reach and into the net.

Araujo finished off the scoring for AEK after yet another poor clearance by Kerkyra’s defense ultimately landed at the Argentinian’s feet. Araujo, showing sings of what we came to expect of him last year, finished it beautifully with a one timer that left the keeper with no chance.

Kerkyra managed to pull one back but it was too little too late for them. The penalty that lead to their goal was questionable at best, but it was the only downside of what was another convincing performance by AEK.

Whats most impressive for me about our recent performances is that we’re consistently getting results without Mantalos and Johansson. Players like Klonaridis and Kone who earlier in the season weren’t showing as much promise as we expected are now proving to have rather considerable roles in the team. Even Araujo, who had a slow start to his season this year, is starting to find himself on the scoresheet more and more often. Its a good time for the team to find some form since it will only get tougher from this point on as the pressure increases. The only thing I’m weary about at this point is that with the Christmas break fast approaching, its a very real possibility that the break might affect our momentum. Of course, it might not affect us at all, but its always a risk when you’re away from the game for a while.

 

Today’s result wasn’t the only news for our football team today. Earlier in the day, the draws took place for who we would face in the Europa League Round of 32 and to be honest, I feel like it could definitely be worse. The luck of the draw paired us with Dynamo Kiev, Ukranian runners up last season. I’m not saying it will be an easy two matches by any stretch, but we definitely have more of a chance at getting a favourable result against them than say Atletico Madrid or Arsenal for example (even if both of those teams aren’t in great form in their respective leagues).

 

One last piece of AEK news worth mentioning comes from our basketball game yesterday. We played Olympiakos and considering our recent league form, I don’t think anybody was realistically expecting much of a result. Instead, what happened was something that hasn’t happened in 13 years: we won! 13 years since the last time we beat Olympiakos in Basketball, we beat them again with a score of 66-62. It was a tight game, and towards the end the lead was fluctuating between the two sides quite a bit.

Its been an interesting season for our basketball club. We’re in mediocre form (and thats being generous) in the league and we’re even worse off in European play, yet we’ve beat PAO and Oly within the span of about a month. Strange times indeed, but hopefully our recent switch of coaches will help after we hired Dragan Sakota as our coach for the third time in his career.

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Levadeiakos 0-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , on December 4, 2017 by alexaek

Another week and we’re still top of the league. Its still far too close for comfort but does it ever feel good.

With the way the standings are right now, every match is a crucial as the one before and today was no exception after both Oly and PAOK won on Saturday. The match went according to plan for the most part, though Levadeiakos were a pretty stubborn side to break down for much of the first half. As the commentators pointed out, they were playing with all men behind the ball for much of the match which made it tough for AEK to find space.

We did find space eventually though in the 52nd minute, with Araujo sending a pass Livaja’s way. Livaja, as is to be expected with someone in the form that hes currently in, cleanly chipped the ball over the Levadeiakos keeper to open the scoring. Araujo had a great chance to make it 2-0 for AEK when was clear on goal himself, only for his chip to just be tipped away by the keeper.

The goal caused Levadeiakos to open up a bit which gave us enough space to find a second goal, this time when Araujo was able to convert after a beautiful ball was sent up the pitch by Tsintotas. Speaking of Tsintotas, he was in nets instead of Anestis today as a result of Anestis and AEK not yet having settled on a new contract from what I could understand.

Overall it was a decent match from an AEK stand point, though truth be told we were hardly challenged by Levadeiakos. They did come close in the dying minutes of the game but even had they scored it would have been too little too late. The statistics yet again showed pretty much how the game went, with AEK having 63% possession and 16 shots in total.

That wasn’t the only game we had lately, as we also had a midweek cup match against Kalithea. The game, which ended 3-2 in AEK’s favour, was more about giving some playing time to reserve players as AEK had already clinched top spot in the group. The roster featured players like Giakoumakis, Vlachomitros, Vinicius, and Giannoutsos. The biggest surprise however Christos Giousis, an 18 year old midfielder who had never yet played in a professional match for AEK. His debut was, safe to say, an exceptional one. Not only did he end up scoring 2 out of our 3 goals, but he generally looked very composed with the ball at his feet.

You can see what I mean here:

The other scorer from the game was, of all people, Tzanetopoulos. It has to be said that even though Giakoumakis didn’t score, he also had a good game which is promising to see considering we all know his potential. He was involved in a number of plays and even he might not have hit the target, his effort was good to see.

AEK 1-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, football with tags , , , , , , , on November 5, 2017 by alexaek

I’ve met many people throughout my relatively young life who simply were not into sports. One thing I often hear from some of these people is that they don’t understand the point of supporting a team, of spending so much of your time and energy towards a team, when you know the chances of ever winning a championship are relatively slim. To be honest, they’re probably right, especially when you support a team in Greece. Look at us AEK supporters for example: sure we win a cup here and there, but we haven’t won a championship since 1994, over 20 years ago.

So why do we show up at the stadium every weekend? Why do AEK supporters in Australia wake up at unimaginable times in the middle of the night to watch the team? Why do those of us in North America interrupt our Sundays to watch an AEK team that we know will not win the championship most of the time? The answer is simple really: its days like today that keep us going, 23 years after our last championship.

Now its not only the fact that we beat PAOK that made this particular Sunday so rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, that was a huge win and I’ll get into why it was in a bit but it was what happened before the game against PAOK that really made this Sunday such a satisfying one for us AEK supporters. Only a couple hours before our triumph on the pitch, we also triumphed on the courts, beating PAO 73-69 to secure our spot in the Basketball Cup Final for the first time in 17 years.

Not much to complain about right? I”ll start with the basketball game since that took place first. We all know that AEK was once one of the best basketball clubs in Europe but for the past decade and a half, PAO and Olympiakos have been undeniably stronger than us. They’re the better teams, its as simple as that, so to beat either of them is a pretty big deal for us. But to beat PAO in the semi finals of the Cup is a huge deal. The fact that it was a close game throughout makes it even more satisfying though I’ll admit that I was afraid we would let the win slip in the end. Luckily we managed to hold on and win, thanks especially to a 25 point 4th quarter which was enough to down PAO in the end.

The Cup Final will take place on the 17th of February (how am I supposed to wait that long???) and will put us up against Olympiakos. The last time we played in the Cup Final? 2001, the year we won it against PAO. It will be a very tough match and Olympiakos will be favourites without a doubt, but I have no doubt that AEK will be up for the challenge.

 

Now before I continue onto the match against PAOK, I have to point out that it wasn’t all good news. Shortly before the match was due to begin, we saw crowd troubles yet again at OAKA, resulting in tear gas for a second time this season. I’m not certain of the details, but from what I could make out on the radio it sounded like it had something to do with security/the police, and the number of fans trying to make their way into the grounds. Again, I’m not sure what exactly happened and what started it all, but I did hear that there were some scuffles between supporters and cops, and that a decent amount of tear gas was released just outside the gates. I haven’t learned of any injuries or arrests, but I do know that the amount of tear gas released was enough to cause the delay of the game by a few minutes until the atmosphere was able to clear out a bit. Unfortunately, it sounds like we might see more punishment as a result of what happened. Almost definitely a fine, and quite likely a ban for our fans from at least one match. All I’m hoping for at this time is that we don’t see a point deduction.

As for the match itself? Well, the excitement carried over to the pitch as well. Only 8 minutes into the match and we saw a red card to Araujo after he shoved Zambrano to the ground. Was it worthy of a red card? Absolutely, but I feel that Zambrano should have gotten a red as well for shoving Araujo prior to Araujo’s shove. The only difference between the two shoves? Zambrano decided to theatrically fall to the ground.

Going a man down that early was worrying, but for some reason I was never too nervous. Araujo has been fairly quiet afterall (maybe this will “wake him up”a bit), plus I figured this would just make a goal against PAOK even more satisfying.

Our goal did eventually come despite playing a man less, with Livaja tucking away a Simoes cross in the 25th minute. We needed some luck on the goal after the ball took a favorable deflection on its way to Simoes, but a goal is a goal in a derby, regardless of how they come.

The playing field leveled itself shortly after, when Zambrano received a second yellow for an obvious challenge. Its safe to say that it was only a matter of time until PAOK received a red as they had been playing some dirty football up to that point (I would expect no less from them though).

From that point on it was a fairly scrappy match with a few chances for either side and many dirty tackles in between. PAOK had their fair share of chances, but it was obvious they were unlikely to score. They definitely put the pressure on but they were anything but clinical in front of our net. Its worth noting that once all was said and done, PAOK had 6 yellow cards and 2 reds. Sound like a derby to you? I’d say so.

Not the prettiest match, but the team did well to come away with the 3 points. We have to keep in mind that we lost Araujo early, we were playing withouth Mantalos, and we were coming off a tough match against Milan. Not easy conditions to play under at all, but its reassuring to see that this team can adapt do whats needed to get results one way or another.

Derbies are always important, but this one carried some extra importance with regards to the standings. As a result of the win, we now move up to 1st place, tied on points with Atromitos. Atromitos technically have the edge due to the fact that they beat us earlier in the season, but its still a great place to find ourselves 10 matches. Were not clear yet since even though we currently have 20 points, PAOK are just behind us on 18 followed by Olympiakos with 17.

 

We have two weeks off until our next game so that Greece can play its World Cup qualifier against Croatia but we’ll be back in business against PAO, at their stadium. To be honest, this is probably the most confident I’ve been in a while about our chances of sneaking away with a win at Leoforos. PAO are an extremely unpredictable team but for the most part they’ve been pretty poor this season. If we’re going to beat them in their own home, this is our chance.

Panionios 0-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2017 by alexaek

Well that was a little too close for comfort. It wasn’t until 80 minutes in to the game that we got the winning goal by Araujo but the 3 points are what matter most as far as I’m concerned.

This game was a crucial one for a few reasons. First of all we desperately needed a win seeing as its been weeks since we’ve won a match in the league and my confidence in the team was starting to take a hit. On top of that, today’s result gives us a great chance to regain some ground in the standings and put some distance between us and Olympiakos after PAO won their derby against the Reds yesterday by a score of 1-0. With our win today we currently sit in 2nd with 17 points, two behind Atromitos who are in 1st with 19. That could change tomorrow depending on how PAOK’s game with Tripolis goes but regardless of what happens there, we now find ourselves up 3 points over Olympiakos which is always nice to see.

It wasn’t an easy game, which is to be expected seeing as playing against Panionios in Nea Smyrni is a match that can often go either way. Today though, AEK were clearly the better team and if it wasnt for some amazing saves by the Panionios keeper we could have comfortably won this game 2-0 or 3-0. The team did well overall, but we still need more composure in the box.

Defensively we were pretty sound and managed to get the ball back in our control with relative ease. Aside from a few long balls or balls in from set plays, Panionios never really looked too close to scoring.

Our midfield also looked pretty good and what I liked to see was that we mixed things up in the middle of the pitch. We would slow things down at times only to then launch a quick attack from a bunch of one touch passes which would lead to the Panionios defenders scrambling back to their positions. It seemed to work most of the time, but I thought the closer we got to the net the more predictable we became as most attacks often ended up on the wings. We definitely had our chances and as I mentioned earlier some great goalkeeping was all the really kept Panionios in it.

Unfortunately it wasn’t all good for news for AEK. Mantalos, who had another great game for AEK, had to leave the pitch later in the match after appearing to be in much discomfort. Xrays will take place tomorrow to determine just how serious the injury is, but the early reports don’t sound good.

Today’s game wasn’t the only match we played this week. We also had a Cup game earlier in the week on Thursday, against 3rd division side Apollon Larissa. Its safe to say that it was clear the team we were playing against was a 3rd division after we comfortably breezed past them with a score of 7-0. The game had a feel of a friendly really but it doesn’t hurt the confidence of the team to see some goals go in.

The whole game for those who wish to watch it is available here:

Alternatively a highlight video is also available:

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.

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.