Archive for Aris

Derby Weekend Disappoints

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by alexaek

Stalemate in the Athens Derby

Going into the match against PAO this weekend, I was kind of expecting a draw. Both teams haven’t been having a great season and ultimately its safe to say that the squads for either team have proven to be equally disappointing this season.

I’ll take the 0-0 draw because to be honest, I would not have been surprised if we found a way to lose this one. Its unfortunate though that we didn’t come away with more since, from what I read, we had quite a few chances during the first half. In fact it sounded as though we controlled much of the game until closer towards the end so its too bad that we couldn’t have snatched a goal and maybe lifted the spirits of our players a bit. On the other hand though, Barkas did make some incredible saves to deny PAO a few goals, so it does seem like it evens out in the end.

A couple things worth noting:

-Terrible offsides called against both sides

-Terrible defense from both sides

-Amazing goaltending from both sides (though special mention for Barkas, as some of those saves were outstanding)

I don’t have too much to say about the game, I was on a train in the middle of New York and the wifi was nonexistent (though I expected this going into the ride). Ultimately the game was what I expected it would be, and one of those “derbies”that are better off being forgotten.

I do miss the days of derbies like this one:

 

More Disappointment in Thessaloniki

Our basketball team had one of its most important games of the season this past Saturday as they took on Aris in Thessaloniki for a chance to make it to the Cup final. The last time we played in a Cup Final? April of 2001, when we beat PAO 66-64.

The game this weekend was far more entertaining than the football match back in Athens but in the end, we were painfully eliminated when Aris won the game with two seconds left on the clock. It was a far closer game than when we last played Aris and beat them comfortably, but its safe to say that both sides were expecting a close match. 77-76 was the final score, meaning Aris will now go on to face PAO in the final.

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Tripolis 3-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , on January 9, 2017 by alexaek

At least we managed to score this time..

Sadly though, and as I feared, we didn’t even manage to come away with a point. To be fair to the team, the pitch had a noticeable layer of snow throughout and from what I read during the game, the players struggled at times to get the ball to move well.

Something worth noting from the match was that Ognen Vranjes, our recently signed Bosnian centreback, received a red card during the game (his first appearance for us). Its also worth noting that Pekhart scored both our goals, further cementing his role as our primary goal scorer now that Aravidis seems to be out of the team’s plans and Almeida is still struggling to find the form from his first match of the season. With Pekhart’s two goals over the weekend, he has now scored six of our last ten goals scored.

The result certainly doesn’t help Morais if he wants to remain a part of the team. I’m not saying I believe we need a new coach right away, since I think a lot of the blame falls on the players as well. However, it definitely feels like something isn’t right. I read articles about how the atmosphere within the team isn’t at its best and when I see people like Johansson struggle to seem at all comfortable on the pitch, I start to wonder myself whether we might need to change things up yet again.

Normally I don’t like seeing us change managers as soon as things start to go bad, but at this point I’m starting to feel like it can’t really hurt. We’re currently sixth in the league and show no sign of improving. I’m starting to wonder what the worst that could happen is at this point. Do we change managers and drop more points? Its not like we have much to lose. The teams above us all seem to be finding it easier to get points and the teams behind us are right on our tails with the possibility of overcoming us with just one win.

 

Better result for our basketball team

It might not have been a great weekend for our football team, but our basketball team managed to get the result they were looking for in Athens over the weekend, beating Aris 81-61. An extremely important win considering only two points currently separate us and Aris, and a great momentum builder going into one of our final Champions League group stage games tomorrow.

 

Cup game cancelled

Our cup game against Levadeiakos, scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed due to the weather. Snow and cold has been affecting much of Greece for the past few days, with even a number of islands being affected by considerable snowfall. At the moment I’m not quite sure when the game will be played, but I will try and post here when I find out.

 

End of August Signings and Friendlies

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, football, Friendlies, Singings with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2016 by alexaek

Its been a few weeks since my last post and while the league has yet to start (who knows when it will), there has still been plenty going on with the team. I’ll start off with three friendlies we had not too long ago: 0-0 with Atromitos, 1-2 away win against Aris, and a surprised 1-3 home loss to Apollon.

Mantalos had a fantastic game against Aris, scoring both goals including a fantastic overhead shot:

 

Our 1-3 loss to Apollon came as quite a shock but I’d rather we have this kind of shock from a friendly rather during the league. I didn’t get to watch the game but it sounds like it was evident that we still have some big gaps, at least as far as second string players are concerned. Ketsbaia seemed to use this match to give some of the bench players a go and some of them didn’t quite in the performance we would have hoped for. If theres one good thing to take from the match though, its the fact that Patito has quite the shot (see one minute in for his beautiful goal):

We’ve also been busy off the pitch these past few days with some signings. The first was the signing of Greek national team midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. Not a big name signing by any means, but its a good move from the team as far as I’m concerned. He still has a few good years ahead of him, he’s shown himself to be a reliable and consistent player, and hes Greek. A very solid move to help boost our midfield and provide us with more options.

At the same time as our signing of Christodoulopoulos, we began to show interest in English centre back Joleon Lescott. He might be getting a bit old at 34 years, and he hasn’t had the best seasons of his career lately, but hes an experienced player and a left footed centre back, the type of player Ketsbaia has been wanting for a while now. Whether hes been in good form or not, a centre back with the EPL experience that Lescott has should have no problem handling most players in the Superleague and while I was hoping for someone a bit younger, I think he’ll definitely be a good option for us. We already have a fairly strong defense so far and with Lescott it can only get stronger.

He hasn’t officially signed yet, but as I’m writing this he should be in a plane on his way to Athens. He’ll still have to go through a medical exam but but it seems like things are very close to being finalised. Its worth noting that Italian side Pescara were also keen on signing Lescott, but AEK managed to boost their offer even further to persuade Lescott to chose us over newly promoted Pescara. Hopefully he becomes a signing we can look back on with satisfaction rather than becoming another one of the many “bams” we sign who ultimately do very little to help the team.

Aris 74-69 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby with tags , , , , on May 25, 2016 by alexaek

So close to finishing the season off and cementing ourselves in 3rd place, but we instead let Aris get the better of us despite playing in an empty arena. We had a number of key players out due to injury and suspension, so we did well all things considered but we simply weren’t able to hold Aris off towards the end.

Its too bad really since it would have been nice to end the series with three straight wins, but I still feel like we have the advantage. Aris need to win the next two games which is something they certainly can do, but I feel like for the first time all season, we’ve finally proven that we can be equal to, if not better than, Aris. I believe the next game is back in Athens, so that’s something which can definitely give a boost to us but I really I think the best we can do is make sure we stay calm and play the way we all know the team is capable of. On a good day, we’re solid defensively and make the key baskets we need to. We’ll obviously need to keep an eye on former AEK player Vasilis Symtsak, he had a great game today with 22 points and 10 rebounds and was key to so many of Aris’ attacks. We give him an inch of space and the results could be devastating for us.

A big day for our football team today (April 26th) as we face PAO in OAKA. We win this and we’re back in it with a good chance of getting first in the playoffs. We lose and its pretty much over for us. The team wouldn’t have had much of a chance to recover from Monday’s game, but Zuculini is available again for us so he could be a useful option off the bench if hes ready. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing Pekhart in the starting XI, giving Djebbour a chance to come off the bench. I’m not his biggest fan by any means, but he’s been pretty pivotal to some of our successes lately so I feel like he could be a great impact sub if we need him. Otherwise, we all know how useless he can be when fatigue gets the better of him.

Catching Up…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Transfer Rumor with tags , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2016 by alexaek

There was a mix up with our new internet provider here at home and so I had no connection to the web from about Friday morning until now. I am happy to report though that everything is up and running very smoothly, but this now means I have some catching up to do on the AEK news. For starters, heres a brief summary:

-We won our game against Panionios, 1-0 courtesy of Mantalos

-We also won our second game against Aris for third place in the basketball league by a score of 89-84

-Reports are suggesting that we’re very close to singing Olympiakos target Tasos Bakasetas (would be a great signing if this is true)

So, I didn’t get to watch the game against Panionios since I was working (though I should get to watch our game tomorrow), but it seems like we played pretty well from what I saw during the highlights. We had a few players out such as Barbosa and Vargas, but it sounded like Platellas made a great impression, despite having not played for a while now. Particularly good news since we could really use him in some of the upcoming games.

Seemed like a pretty good game with chances on both sides, as was to be expected since Panionios have been a pretty strong side lately. Worth noting that the officiating was pretty terrible with two clear penalties not awarded to us (not to mention the fact that Panionios should have recieved a red card as well). Its too bad the officiating was once again a talking point, since it was generally pretty good in the cup final. Thankfully we still got away with the win, as I’m sure the complaints would have been even worse had the missed penalty calls cost us a point or three.

The win puts us back in control of our own destiny after Panathinaikos and PAOK tied 1-1 in Athens. With our win, we are now first with 5 points, followed by Panathinaikos and PAOK on 4, and Panionios on 1.

 

Our basketball game against Aris seemed like it was a pretty exciting one. We started off well, going ahead early on, but something I’ve gotten very used to over the seasons started to happen. That’s right, I started to see our lead slowly but surely shrink until Aris managed to tie up the game. Luckily for us we managed to keep Aris at bay while also managing to sink a good number of our own shots but the excitement didn’t end there. Towards the end of the match there were some scuffles on the court, likely a result of nerves since Aris realised they were about to find themseleves down 2-0 in the series. To add to the drama, the officials ultimately decided to eject the benches of both teams as well as two players who were on the court at the time of the events, leading to only three players per team being on the court for the final moments of the game. To be honest, I don’t really know myself what happened; who hit who, who started what. The highlights below are unfortunately a bit inconclusive.

 

So as I also mentioned above, AEK365 is reporting that we are very close to agreeing with both Panionios and Bakasetas. They’ve even gone ahead and made the claim that the singing will be happening on the 1st of June. He’s had a fantastic season, and was also a target of Olympiakos so if this does go through, it will be a victory for us in more ways than one. Like someone commented on AEK365, with Olympiakos losing the cup final and facing a tough challenge of overcoming PAO for the basketball title, losing the singing of Bakasetas to AEK would only help to make this week even worse for Olympiakos supporters. I certainly hope it happens for that reason alone. Plus, hes a pretty decent player…

Yet again…

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2016 by alexaek

… Another derby thrown away by our basketball team. Today’s 93-100 home loss to Olympiakos means we only have one win from seven derbies this season. A couple years ago I may have expected that since we’ve rarely fielded a half-decent team these past few seasons, but I was hoping this year would be different.

Really, things very easily could have been different. Sure, the referees at some of the games were pretty terrible (today against Olympiakos, and two weeks ago against Aris, for example) but half the derbies we’ve played this season we could have easily won had we not given them up so easily. Today’s game was not lost because Olympiakos was the better team but because we made unnecessary errors and missed free throws that we should have easily scored. The loss against PAOK in Thessaloniki was lost because we somehow let a massive lead slip away due to poor defending and a lack of concentration when attacking. How many more derbies will we let slip away from us like this?

The team deserves credit, they really do. They’ve played some great games against the smaller teams in the league and had a good run in Europe. But for some reason as soon as they face either Aris, PAOK, Olympiakos, or Panathinaikos, they just can’t hold on. Even when they start games so well, even when all it takes to win is making one out of two three points, they just don’t seem able to do whats needed and I really don’t know why. Its getting rather unbearable at this point and it makes me scared of what they playoffs might have in store for us.

The worst part about all of this is the fact that our team has shown that they have what it takes to beat any team in this league, apart from maybe Panathinaikos. Just look at today’s game for example: Was it easy? Absolutely not, but we managed to play level with Olympiakos for the whole match and most of the two periods of extra time. Really, the only difference between the two teams was the lost free throws towards the end of the first period of extra time that could have won it for us. Even Olympiakos’ coach said that we could have won the game.

I don’t know what else we need to do at this point to be able to firmly place us back in the top three. The first choice might be to get more players but I wouldn’t even say thats our priority at this point. The team we have now has shown that they’re capable of winning against the bigger teams. The players aren’t our problem right now, our problem is something deeper. Is it with what the coach is saying? Is it a fitness issue? Or perhaps its Psychological? Hopefully someone finds the answers soon, because otherwise I fear we’ll see more of the same next season.

Iraklis 1-1 AEK Match Report

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2016 by alexaek

I finally have some time to sit down and write up a report on the rather dull game we had yesterday. As I mentioned in my brief post from yesterday, much of the pitch was flooded from heavy rains in Thessaloniki which continued through the match. As can be expected the game was unable to get into any sort of a rhythm pretty much from kickoff, with players being forced to pretty much lift the ball forward any time they wanted to attempt a run. Also to be expected was the fact that most chances would be coming from set plays, of which there were many though few ever ended up looking dangerous.

I found it funny that after the game, players from both teams were saying their team deserved the win though with conditions the way they were and no team really managing to exert any control over the game, I felt as though a draw was always going to be a fair result. We had a couple of half-chances but I actually feel as though Iraklis came closer to taking the win if anything. They forced a great save from Baroja while the match was still level at 0-0 and had an amazing opportunity missed right in front of the net very late in the game.

Its hard to really comment on how individual players performed since there was no way for them to really play the way they would have normally. All things considered, we did alright since from games like this its mostly a matter of defending and forcing the ball upfield until a foul or corner is called. I do feel though that its worth pointing out that for the second game in a row, Arzo actually wasn’t too bad. Some of his clearances scared me at times but aside from that he actually seemed to be doing what was needed of him. With a big game coming up next week against PAO, now would be a great time for him to either continue his good form or lift his game even more.

Baroja also had a good game for the most part though he certainly could have done better on the goal we conceded. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since games like this, with mud all over the place and balls that are hard to grab on to, it was always a possibility that one would slip by. Aside from the goal he did well to make a big save earlier on and managed to handle everything that was thrown at him. Pekhart also deserves credit for scoring on his first start for AEK, especially since his header was very well taken. Its still early but if he manages to get into some type of rhythm scoring goals like that, I can see him becoming a very important player. We haven’t really seen yet what he has to offer in terms of runs or shots, but if he can make his presence felt in the box like he did yesterday, then I really look forward to seeing what he can offer once hes spent some more time with the team.

While its unfortunate we didn’t come away with the win, we did manage to get off lightly as Panathinaikos dropped points at home to PAOK earlier today. They were up 2-0 at one point but PAOK managed to come back and level the score at 2-2. The result keeps us four points ahead of PAO and with their form being so poor so far and our home form for derbies in 2016 being pretty consistent, I’m confident we’ll be able to get the win and open up the gap even more.

 

In other AEK news, our basketball team won a close game against a resilient Kifissia, almost undoing all the hard work we did in the third period to go so far ahead in the score. In the end, we did enough to hold onto the win with a final score of 76-73. It was a crucial win since it keeps us ahead of Aris by one point going into our game with them next weekend. We tend to struggle with Aris lately and they have a phenomenal record at home, but I know we have a team that is capable of beating them. Whether we can beat them or not really depends on how we play since we have been rather inconsistent this season but I’m really hoping we manage to sneak away what could possibly be our biggest win of the season to hold onto third place and even widen the gap a little.