Archive for Araujo

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:

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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.

Catching Up…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2017 by alexaek

Its been a few weeks since my last post and as is often the case early on in a season, lots has happened. Luckily for us, things have been going pretty well so most of what I have to talk about is good news.

PAS Giannena 0-0 AEK

We’ve played three games since my last post, the first of which was a disappointing draw away against Giannena. I was only able to follow this game from the radio but in the end I think I was glad I didn’t watch it on TV. It wasn’t an awful game… after all, we didn’t lose. The game did leave a lot to be desired though with neither team managing to really make much happen. The good news though is that we weren’t really outplayed that much.

To be fair the game was only three days after our match against Club Brugge so I could see fatigue playing a part. On top of that there was probably a lot of pressure on the team to put in another good performance as they did against Brugge and perhaps they struggled to deal with those expectations. Its early in the season and we’re still figuring things out so I’m not too worried about the result.

AEK 4-0 Larissa

Our next game was a home game against Larissa, the third Superleague game of the season for us. The score was impressive but our performance was anything but. We seemed uninspired and the tempo of the match was more like what would be expected from a training session.

Thankfully we were rewarded with some goals, a couple of which were particularly impressive. I don’t know if its the fact that we were playing against a team that was clearly not going to be hard to beat, or if it was the empty stands for yet another game (I believe we have one more game with no fans before we are allowed to let them watch again), but there didn’t seem to be much urgency within the team. Thankfully though they managed to get the job done at least since we needed to make up for the points dropped from the previous match. Whats worth noticing with this game is that this is the first time since the 2007-2008 season that we have started the league and have not conceded in our first three games. The 2007-2008 season was also the season when we should have won the championship, so thats promising.

 

Rijeka 1-2 AEK

Our Europa League group stages campaign got off to an excellent start after 2-1 away win in Croatia. As the score suggests, the game wasn’t a blow out and both sides had there chances to add to their tallies. Ultimately though it sounds like AEK were the stronger team. One thing worth mentioning is Lazaros’ goal was a beauty. It sounds like Lazaros wasn’t even supposed to take the free kick that resulted in the goal but he stepped up and took it anyways, silencing anyone who was not expecting him to be able to score it.

Its still very early as there are another five  games to play but the talk is that AEK is looking likely to finish second in the group. I don’t want to jinx anything but I’d say our chances look pretty good. Having already won an away game and considering we’re in pretty good form, I’d say the home games against Austria Wien and Rijeka will quite likely result in wins and the away game to Wien is also one that could very well result in a win for AEK as well.

Looking Forward

We play tomorrow against Lamia in a game which I’d say we have a pretty good chance of winning. Doing so would put us comfortably in 1st place as Olympiakos only managed a 1-1 draw against Tripolis today (in their own stadium!) so a win would see us 1st on 10 points, two ahead of Olympiakos and PAOK. We’ll certainly face a boost as though we are playing “away” against Lamia, the game will be played in Athens and AEK supporters will be allowed in the stands effectively making it a home game for AEK. This will be the first time this season that our players have played against our fans so I’m sure its something the team is looking forward to.

Personnel Changes

We have seen some personnel changes both on and off the pitch since my last post. I’ll start with the behind the scenes chances: Majstorovic has left his post as director to take up a similar role with Wolverhampton. It sounds like Majstorovic and the team parted ways under good terms and its worth noting that I believe Majstorovic waited until his contract with AEK was over before he switched to a different team. Its a good opportunity for him so I don’t blame him for taking it, but its also a good opportunity for us since it means a place has opened up for Limberopoulos again. I’m glad to see Limbe back with AEK again since hes the kind of person who everyone expects. Its a good time for him to be at AEK, so hopefully his second stint in the position brings some memorable success.

We also saw some more changes on the pitch was. Firstly, Almeida has left the team and joined Hajduk Split. I’m glad he found another team since he definitely still has something to offer, but I dont think AEK or even Almeida himself would have been happy with his output while with us. Its a good move from the team since it frees up some space and budget which means the long awaited news we’ve wanted to hear all summer could become reality. Thats right, Araujo has rejoined AEK on a year long loan from Las Palmas. I know AEK wanted to sign him outright rather than keep him on another loan, but its a great move regardless as he was clearly a good fit for AEK under Jimenez. He got off to a great start scoring in his first game back with the club and while he hasn’t played as a starter yet, its only a matter of time until he is fully integrated back into the team again.

Olympiakos 1-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2017 by alexaek

On AEK’s 93rd birthday, we were treated to an incredibly important win, one which sees us put a foot into the Cup Finals. As Jimenez said today, the future of this team is bright and what we’ve seen up to and including our victory in Karaiskaki, I see no reason at all for us not to go ahead and win the Cup for a second straight season.

Now I don’t want to get too carried away since nothing in football is certain, especially considering despite the fact that we came away with a win, Olympiakos were still very much in the game. In fact both teams had a few good chances to increase the score throughout the match so we definitely cannot discount Olympiakos at this point. Having said that, with two critical away goals and the next game in an OAKA which I feel will be very close to sold out, I’m pretty confident that we’ll be playing in the final in less than a month’s time. Its also worth keeping in mind that our form against Olympiakos has been surprisingly good with AEK winning four of the last five matches between the two sides.

As I said, Olympiakos did have a couple chances so I won’t sugarcoat our performance and say it was flawless since it clearly wasn’t. We were great going forward, but we did allow a little to much space at times in the back. Overall though, what I really noticed with AEK today was that this was the most confident performance I’ve seen from our team in Karaiskaki since our last 2-1 victory there. Previous matches we’ve played in Piraeus seemed shaky, uncomfortable, and as if we just generally didn’t have a plan. In the past, at least for the last three or so seasons, we tended to play in a way that resulted in us sitting back and hoping for a couple counter attacks. Today, however, was a different story. We played with total control for much of the game, a clear game plan, and a team that didn’t seem to be affected at all by nerves. It was definitely a breath of fresh air and one of the clearest signs yet that Jimenez knows what hes doing with the club.

There was the usual shenanigans that follow an Olympiakos loss, with players and management alike criticizing the officiating. Truth be told, I genuinely don’t even know what they were complaining about today as every handball/penalty they called for were, in realities, clean plays. I guess they need to blame someone though? Although if anyone should complain it would be AEK in this case as Seba should have received a straight yellow for his deliberate trip of Araujo (see video below).

Araujo was, as is pretty much expected at this point, our standout player. Considering the technique and vision he possesses, I really don’t see a way we can keep him past the summer. I would love nothing more than to see that happen, but theres no way Las Palmas aren’t noticing the amazing performances hes been consistently been putting in and while I wish we could offer whatever they would ask for him, I just don’t see any way we could possibly afford his price tag.

Mantalos also put in a great performance and I thought the way he and Araujo linked up on the first goal was just brilliant. Also worth noting was the fact that both Vranjes and Chyrinskiy were in the starting lineup today and while I found our defense to be a little porous at times, they both had great games.

For those who wish to mark it in their calendars, the second leg will take place on the 26th of April. Its still early to say but the crowd will definitely be a sizable one, if not a sell out.

Highlights:

 

The Seba trip:

 

One of the “penalties” Olympiakos called for (I don’t see it either):

 

Another “penalty” they were calling for (maybe if they would just focus on playing the game they wouldn’t be so embarassed in front of their own supporters):

Atromitos 0-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Greek Football with tags , , , , on March 20, 2017 by alexaek

The Jimenez run continues, extending our undefeated run to 13 games since we swapped coaches. Maybe not with the emphatic scoreline we would have hoped for, but considering the last time we beat Atromitos in Peristeri was 2009, I’ll gladly take the three points however they come. The game winner came courtesy of Mantalos in the 57th minute, though we also had a goal wrongly disallowed for offsides while Araujo hit the post with another fantastic effort.

To give our recent form some context, its worth keeping in mind that Olympiakos have now lost four of their last five games after their 1-0 loss to PAO yesterday. Our recent form has, aside from being impressive in its own right, also helped secure our spot in the playoff race. The season is far from over but considering earlier in the year I wasn’t even sure we’d get back into fifth, I’d say we’re starting to look a little more comfortable. With the way we’ve been playing, I’d say theres no reason for us not to stay 5th at least. On top of that, we have a great chance to slip into 4th with a win over PAO in our upcoming match.

Something else worth noting is that the draw for the Cup semi-finals is due to take place tomorrow after last week’s draw was called off because of a bomb threat. I’m excited since we’re pretty much guaranteed a good game. For the first time in 68 years, AEK, PAO, Olympiakos, and PAOK are the final four teams so I think its safe to say we might see one of the more interesting Cup finals that we’ve seen for the past few years.

AEK 3-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Jimenez, PAOK with tags , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by alexaek

Araujo OE OE OE

I’ve always had a “fascination” with Argentina. I’ve never been there, but its always been high on my list of places to visit. I have to be honest though and admit that part of the reason I’ve been interested in the country for so many years now though is simply the fact that we’ve some incredible football players from Argentina play for AEK. Thats not to say that every Argentinian we’ve had play for us has been phenomenal. But the thing is, when they’re good, they’re really good. First Scocco, and now Araujo, a player who’s precence on the pitch has elevated the team to a whole new level.

Its not just that he can score, but he also the fact that he makes some great plays and brings so much energy to our attacks. Hes the kind of player that most defenses simply can’t handle, just like Scocco was back in the day. Today was the perfect example of it; when someone like Araujo is in form, hes untouchable.

Now before I go on any further about Araujo, I do have credit to the rest of the team. We played a pretty good game and though PAOK did have a few chances, we were solid overall. Perhaps the only complaint I could have had really about our performance was the fact that we sometimes went large stretches of time without really dictating the pace, but I guess its natural to see some of that urgency ease off when you score so early (as we did today with Araujo opening the scoring just 49 seconds into the game).

Barkas was phenomenal, making a number of key saves to keep us ahead. The same could be said about Glykos as well, as he made some fantastic saves to keep PAOK in the game when the score was still 1-0. Its safe to say that had he not been so sharp today, the score could have been a lot higher, a lot earlier on.

Along with Araujo, our entire offense and midfield was excellent. Simoes and Johansson were constantly pressing and Johansson especially showed so much confidence in some of the balls he played. Mantalos also helped to control the pace of the game while both Ajdarevic and Vargas had some great chances to put us ahead even further.

Something worth noting from this game too was the fact that this was Aravidis’ first match in months. It didn’t take him long to make his presence felt again as he managed to sneak the 3rd goal in just before the end.

Today’s win, aside from resulting in a well earned derby victory, also brought us back into 5th place after our 1-1 draw against Panionios earlier in the week. Things are starting to get interesting too as there are now only 5 points separating 7th and 3rd place. We currently occupy 5th but with a win against PAO in two weeks time, we could see ourselves jumping up to 4th fairly soon.

As has been the case for a while now, we still remain undefeated under Jimenez, 12 games after he took over. Our current goals scored under Jimenez adds up to 29, while we’ve only conceeded 3… Is that even possible? Looking at our results, it seems to be the case, but I have a hard time believing that considering our form before Jimenez returned.

Goals can be watched below. Araujo’s second is stunning, the kind of shot that couldn’t be more perfect. All I can say is that I hope Melissanidis gives Araujo whatever he needs to make him stay, though its safe to say some other teams very well might show some interest.

Its also worth noting that before the game, Original21 organized a large march in Nea Filadelfeia to show some support for our eventual return home to where we belong. Sounded like it was a great time with singing, flares, and banners, but whether it will change anything remains to be seen. All I know is that this mayor is proving to be even more stubborn than I thought. I just hope he realizes that over 90 years of history in Nea Filadelfeia can’t erased with one term as mayor.

Lets hope for many marches like this and that maybe some day we’ll be marching to our stadium once again.

AEK 3-0 Platanias

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Champions League, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2017 by alexaek

With relative ease we’ve booked our place in the semi-finals of the Cup. Can we go all the way from this point on? I see absolutely no reason why we can’t with the form we’re seeing at the moment.

Going into the game I was very slightly worried, if only for the fact that the 0-0 draw in the previous game in Crete left us little breathing room if we failed to score early. Platanias afterall only stand one point behind us in the league and have proven time and time again that they can get results against bigger clubs.

Any fears I might have had though we’re quickly put to rest after we got off to a pretty good start, with Lazaros scoring the penalty that resulted from Mantalos being taken down in the box by Platanias’ Yaya Banana. That same play also resulted in a red card for Platanias which certainly only made things easier from that point on.

Oh, and speaking of penalties and red cards, the olympiakos press has been going on all night about how we got “helped” by the refs through the calls… Regardless of whether the penalty was the right call or not, the fact that their press has been going on about this, from a game they weren’t even involved in, is something else. Maybe they’re using it to get their supporters more fired up in case they play us once again in the Cup? Can’t say I mind, it would make any meetings between us in the Cup that much more enjoyable. I still find it incredible that supporters of that team can have the nerve to complain about another team receiving a call like that from a ref…

Back to our game though: I think its safe to say that after the first goal and the red card for Platanias, pretty much anyone following the game would think that the win was pretty much guaranteed for AEK at that point. Rightfully so too, as we continued to score with goals from Araujo (his third in the cup so far) and a beautifully taken finish by Johansson.

Its also safe to say that with a little more luck, the score could have easily ended around 5-0 as we hit the post and had a number of excellent chances missed throughout the game. Regardless, its the win that counts, an important win that books us a place in the semi-finals of a Cup which I genuinely believe our players want to win. It helps too having a coach who has won this cup before and knows how good it would feel to raise it again.

Its obviously too early to tell who we’ll face in the next round but Panathinaikos will definitely be there. I’m pretty confident PAOK will make it to the next round too, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the Atromitos-Olympiakos game. Its very possible we could end up seeing Atromitos joining us in the semi-finals considering Olympiakos’ recent form in Greece.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news today as Chyrgrynskiy had to be subbed off after just a few minutes into the game for what seemed like an arm injury. I’m not sure how bad it is at this point but I hope it doesn’t keep him out for too long.

 

As great as our football team has been lately, our basketball team also deserves some credit after not only beating PAOK over the weekend, but also beating Monaco yesterday in the Champions League round of 16. It was only a one point win, but its definitely a promising result going into the return leg in France. Its also promising to keep in mind that there will be at least 500 AEK supporters present in the rather small arena in Monaco, not to mention the number of Marseille supporters who will also make the trip to support AEK.