Archive for Dellas

Cup Bound

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Basketball, Dellas, Derby, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by alexaek

Another game I wasn’t able to watch but from what I’ve read so far, it sounds like our playing left much to be desired. But, in the end we did enough to get through like I knew we would and now its all or nothing against Olympiakos in the final.

Speaking of finals, the game will be taking place next Saturday, the 7th of May (is it May already?). We were told by Kontonis that we would be getting a foreign ref for the game but as has consistently been the case with everything that the minister has said so far this season, that turned out to be yet another false promise. Surprised? I’m not.

As for today’s game, I get the impression that it was a similar performance to the last time we played Atromitos in Peristeri. A couple attacks, fewer chances, and another unconvincing game from our squad. According to Dellas, Atromitos deserved to go through and were knocked out only because of bad luck. Manolas on the other hand claimed that AEK were the better team. I’m going to go ahead and guess that both teams were equally mediocre at best and that if either team played the Final as they played today, then they wouldn’t stand a chance against Olympiakos.

I’m scared of the Final to be honest. Excited that were in it, happy that it pretty much guarantees us European football next season, but still scared. And not Olympiakos is a great team. As we saw earlier in the season, they are beatable. But as beatable as Olympiakos are, we have proven to be equally unreliable and thats what scares me most. I know that if the team gels well during the game, if we can shut down Olympiakos and generate some pressure in their end, we can get a result. But if we go out and play like we did during some of our weaker performances this season, then we will be in for quite the embarrassment.

Until next Saturday, I’m remaining optimistic. The beauty of a Cup final is that its one match, all or nothing, and trends from the rest of the season often tend to matter little. I know we are capable of beating them or at least able to put up a good fight. If the last Cup final against Olympiakos was anything to go by, we could very well see a pretty entertaining match.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the match will be played in a completely empty stadium and not even with students in the stands as Kontonis suggested would be the case (look at that, another “lie”). A Cup final between these two teams without the two sets of supporters will never be the same, even if it means the inevitable threat of violence is averted. Its unfortunate for our supporters who have waited so long to see AEK get the chance of winning some meaningful silverware but most of all, I’m afraid the game might not have the same energy about it that it normally would. That’s not to say that the players won’t give it their all, but this is one of the biggest derbies in Greece, and in a Cup final; take away the supporters and the game loses almost all of its meaning. Hopefully we still see a good game regardless.

A slight change of topic, but our basketball team is playing game three of the three game series against PAOK tomorrow. I believe the game is at 6:45 Athens time, but I could be mistaken. Either way, I’ll have the chance to watch it (assuming I find a stream) and thank goodness for that since this is, without a doubt, the biggest game of the season for the team so far. We win and we advance to the Final 4, we lose and… well, its over for us.

AEK 1-0 Atromitos… And a Whole Lot More.

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Dellas, football, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , on April 20, 2016 by alexaek

Its been a while since I last posted, partly due to stuff piling up during these last two weeks of school, but also because I picked up a flu/food poisoning last week. Anyways, I’ve finally found some time to get together a post and really, its well overdue. Considering I expected this past week to be a rather uneventful one as everyone settled in before the playoffs, it instead turned out to be one of the more dramatic weeks we’ve seen all season. I was going to start with the most recent event, our 1-0 cup win against Atromitos, but its an awkward place to start without first mentioning some other stories from earlier on. So instead, I’ll make my way up to today, starting from about this point last week.

-It was announced that the Cup would be starting again around this time last week. No surprises really, since I think most people expected Kontonis to revert on his decision because lets face it, push comes to shove, he’d never stand up to FIFA/UEFA, just like Tsipras ultimately backed down to the IMF/EU despite trying to show the same defiant spirit. The news of the Cup restarting caused a bit of a scramble since it meant that AEK all of a sudden had another target for the season aside from the playoffs, again. Of course, Kontonis refused fans for the semi-final games (which was why our game today was played behind closed doors), and if I understood correctly, the Cup Final will be played with only students in the stands. If I remember correctly, some of the Basket Cup Finals between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos were played in a similar way. Fair enough I suppose, but it really is a drag watching a game in an empty stadium. The whole thing feels like a practice between the two sides, and I’m sure the players can’t enjoy too much either.

-We lost against Levadeiakos in our last league game of the season, and by a score of 3-0. This game took place when I spent all day on the couch and couldn’t even move because I felt so terrible, so I didn’t end up watching it and I’m probably better off this way. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound like we were playing too badly really. We were controlling most of the ball and from what I was reading, we were creating chances. Unfortunately, as has been the case for AEK far too often this season, we struggled to score. Unsurprisingly, we suffered due to our inability to score in a painful and embarrassing way, letting in two own goals minutes apart from each other. Levadeiakos finished things off after some sloppy defending and poor decision making by Baroja in the second half, scoring their third and final goal in a game that both fans and players alike will want to forget as soon as possible. It was an unfortunate result, especially since there is little a team can do to regroup after having two quick own goals conceded. To make matters worse, PAO won their game 6-1, with Berg scoring five goals himself. If this is any indication of their form going into the playoffs, we could be in trouble. I’m hoping it was just a fluke…

 

-A couple days after the fiasco in Livadia, AEK’s management had a meeting with Poyet’s management, in an attempt to work out a deal that would see Poyet stay on as manager. Apparently, things didn’t go to well and from what I heard, Poyet’s management was asking for four million euros a season. He was a good coach, I appreciated a lot of what I did and I appreciated the fact that he seemed to enjoy the big wins as much as what we did. But four million a season is ridiculous, considering that kind of money could be spent on some very good players. Now, that number might not even be true, but what it is clearly true is that both sides failed to come to an agreement. I wasn’t expecting an agreement this early, especially not with so many important games coming up, but apparently Poyet was.

I felt like Poyet was a very professional man and coach, I expected him to do his job until after the season and then let things get worked out. Instead, not long after the meetings took place, he came out and released an announcement on his own, saying he wouldn’t be staying with AEK past the end of the season… I understand that he might not have been too happy, maybe he was expecting more. But I really see no excuse for coming out, a day before a semi-final game, and making an announcement like that on your own.

Clearly, the team wasn’t too happy about the announcement either. Within hours, the press was saying that Poyet had been fired and it wasn’t long after when AEK officially confirmed this. I’m disappointed since I was hoping for better, but I personally felt that it was clear from a while ago that Poyet wanted to leave Greece, particularly to try his luck in England again. I don’t blame him since after-all, the Superleague is a joke, and the Premier League is pretty exciting at the moment, but I was really expecting to see him leave on better terms. Oh well, so much for that…

 

-Finally we end up to where we are now, that is after beating Atromitos 1-0 in the first of two semi-final matches against the team led by Dellas. Manolas was our coach today for the second time this season, and I must say I was kind of amused seeing both teams run by former AEK centre backs.

We started off well, applying the pressure, forcing Atromitos to defend, and creating some chances. At one point the possesion stat was saying something around 80 percent for AEK, and it sure seemed that way. We gave Atromitos no chances of getting into the game which I was glad to see. Our passing was controlled and Mantalos and Johansson were linking up well. Galo and Vargas were also providing some options down the wings which we took advantage of a few times. Unfortunately for us, Aravidis wasn’t providing many options up front and the times he did get the ball anywhere near him, he never really looked like scoring.

As the first half continued on, our pace dropped and it never really picked up too much in the second half. We still managed to create a couple chances, and we still never gave Atromitos too much space, but the game made it clear again that we need better players up front. Our break finally came around the 74th minute, when Aravidis sent in a gorgeous ball that was perfectly placed for Mantalos, requiring just some contact with his head to get the ball on target. It was a break we needed, since any goal we can get going into a second match with Atromitos is an important one.

I didn’t feel like we played too badly, and we can definitely get past Atromitos in the next leg also. But really need to start looking more dangerous in front of goal. I don’t know if we would have been better off starting Pekhart today, but I know Djebbour certainly isn’t an option. He came on as a sub today and provided nothing, as usual. Even when he comes up with chances that the Djebbour of five years ago would have no problem putting away, he struggles to even get a shot off anywhere near target. I don’t know what has happened to him, but he certainly is not the answer we need.

AEK 1-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Dellas, Derby, football, Greek Football, Keepers, PAOK, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2016 by alexaek

After three attempts this season we’ve finally managed to win a derby, and an important one too. It was a scrappy game, one where we certainly could have done a lot of things better, but the three points against PAOK could not have come at a better time.

The win puts us at 39 points, 4 points ahead of PAO and 6 ahead of PAOK. Considering both those teams have been shaky at best lately and we seem to have found some good form since the start of the year, we have now put ourselves in a great position to make sure we get the best start we can to the playoffs… assuming we can continue to get the results like we have been lately.

The game was our sixth win in a row for 2016 (including cup games) and while it has given us a lot to celebrate, including yet another game without conceeding and the first time this season that we managed to get a win against a team in the top five, it also showed we still have a lot to worry about. Normally I have a hard time narrowing down where exactly I should start when bringing up the negatives, but for yesterday’s game, the biggest concern was clear: Arzo.

I remember I wasn’t the only one who wondered why Dellas never really gave him much of a chance, but people were always suggesting that Dellas of all people would know whether a center back was good enough to play or not. While I admit Dellas may have not been perfect, it seems he was certainly right about Arzo: I wanted him to be given a chance, but yesterday’s game proved he just isn’t good enough. One website even sarcastically, though fairly accurately, said that he was PAOK’s best player. It seems as though he just can’t think fast enough when the pressure is on him, leading him to either take too long to make a decision or, when he does decide to act quick enough, leading to sloppy plays which more often than not result in lose balls which PAOK attackers were able to latch onto all too quickly. With some teams, his poor decision making is less apparent as the players are simply not good enough to latch onto the errors he makes. Against PAOK however, that simply wasn’t the case. Rodriguez, easily PAOK’s most dangerous player offensively, was quick and aggressive in attack and was able to pressure Arzo throughout the game forcing mistakes or sloppy clearances. Bottom line is as a center back, someone playing in a role where you need to be solid and sure of what you’re doing as the last line of defense, he simply was not anywhere near good enough yesterday. It does not help that all other center back options we have are relatively young and unexperienced.

We were also pretty sloppy in attack unfortunately, and it made for a rather dull game with few solid chances. Sure we managed to move the ball forward often enough, and we certainly showed enough attacking intent, but in the final third we couldn’t get anything to work. Chance after chance near or in the box was ruined due to a poor pass or a poor finish, something which I can’t help but feel must be related to a psychological issue that seems to be affecting the team as a whole. I’m hoping yesterday’s win will help with our derby performances in the upcoming games, but it still seems as though whenever we have a big game, our concentration and nerve take a big hit.

Simoes got the man of the match award, and he certainly deserved it. Time after time he came back and provided the much needed cover for our defenders, making some critical tackles and constantly covering our half of the pitch. Without him, I’m not convinced we would have come out of the game without conceding from PAOK’s attacking surge towards the last twenty minutes of the game. Anestis was also phenomenal and has proven yet again to Poyet and the fans that he deserves to be considered for the starting lineup, even when Baroja returns from injury. He was solid during one on one situations, handled the far shots well and, most importantly, was able to keep calm during corners and free kicks.

Overall not the best game but I’m certainly relieved we got the points. I’m really hoping this win will give us the confidence we need to face the next two derbies (Olympiakos three weeks from now and PAO at the end of February) since I genuinely see no reason we can’t win against PAO and at least get a draw against Olympiakos.

Highlights as usual for our league games can be found on the Novasports page for AEK.

 

AEK 3-0 Kalloni

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Dellas, football, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2015 by alexaek

A great performance from the team and a convincing scoreline were more than enough to ensure that we have comfortably taken control of second place. Yesterday’s win, courtesy of goals by Djebbour and Aravidis, means we now have 26 points after 13 games. The three teams closest to us (Panionios, PAOK, and Panathinaikos) each have 22 points, a win for us against Panionios next week will really help take the pressure off, if only slightly.

There is only so much we can take away from our past three wins considering they have all been against teams in the bottom four, but our performances have really been showing a lot of promise lately. Its hard to pinpoint the reasons for our improvement, but I really do think a lot of it has to come down to the fact that Poyet seems to have got his tactics sorted out rather well. We lined up with a 4-3-3 over the weekend, and there were definitely some advantages to this. Firstly is the fact that our backs seem to be having a much better time making dangerous runs down the wings due to the fact they aren’t being so congested anymore by midfielders. Both Didac and Galo were constant threats down the wings and they were both able to consistently make good deliveries into the box.

The new tactics also seem to be benefiting our team as a whole as we were able to take control of the game very easily. With more players moving forward and fewer tying up the middle of the pitch, it meant that the players who were in the middle, specifically Simoes and Johansson, were able to find more space and time on the ball and were able to hold onto the ball until the right moment without feeling the need to constantly pass to the player nearest to them.

Also worth noting is Johansson and how he seems to be fitting into Poyet’s style. He was always a great midfielder when Dellas in charge, but he seems to be really shining with Poyet now. His defensive duties are just as important as always, but the way he has been moving the ball forward, often on his own, has been a really great sight to see. I always knew he was a solid defensive midfielder and had a good eye for the right pass, but we never really had the chance to see how he could make such good runs and position himself so well in attacking plays. His playing has really helped bring the team to a new level and its getting to the point now where he is contributing more offensively than players like Buonnanote.

Something else that has been talked about quite a bit lately is how the new formation seems to really be suiting Aravidis’ style of play. There was never any doubt that he was a great striker, but he was struggling to get it done all on his own up front. Now that he has been partnered with Djebbour however, we’re starting to really see what he has to offer. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but Djebbour and Aravidis both seem to be linking up together very well. They don’t seem to get in each other’s way, they’re good at supporting each other when needed, and they’re getting the job done. If Djebbour manages to stay healthy from now on (though I don’t expect that to happen), I think we can expect a lot of goals from both of them.

Poyet’s real big test comes next week when we play Panionios in Nea Smyrni. It won’t be an easy match considering Panionios are in form, but I’m probably more confident than I have been all season going into an important match. I really appreciated Dellas for all he did for the team, but I have to admit, I really like what Poyet is doing with the team. Sure, we’ve only played weaker teams lately, but the fact that we got by very comfortably against Kalloni and Panelefsiniakos shows that something is working, something is finally clicking with the team.

If only we could see the same for our basket team. They gave it a decent effort over the weekend against Olympiakos, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. The final score (79-71) was fairly respectable and I honestly believe that with a few chances, whether that be a new coach or one or two more players, we can take Olympiakos next round in front of our own supporters. We have a solid team this year for sure, but there seems to be some psychological factor thats been affecting us. The way we can go on such promising winning streaks and then slump to four losses in a row highlights the fact that something still isn’t right. I didn’t believe it at first, but I’m starting to think we’re in need of a new coach as many have been saying all season. Like Dellas, Sakota has done so much for the team which I’ll always appreciate, but maybe someone new in charge will be the change we need.

Highlights (football): http://aek365.novasports.gr

Highlights (basketball): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztjxxao0Hng

AEK 5-1 Iraklis

Posted in AEK, Greek Cup, Manager, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by alexaek

Despite all the events of the past week, AEK managed to rebound in the best possible way. Not only did we manage to get the three points from the win, but we did it by playing some great football and scoring the most goals we’ve scored in one game for many years now.

I was somewhat nervous about the game for a few reasons. First of all, regardless of the fact that Iraklis also just came up from the second division, they are a team that can never be taken lightly. Plus, having just lost our coach, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction the players were going to have. I’m very happy to see they were able to respond positively since I feel that it shows that the team definitely has some character. To come back from a heavy loss to our rivals and having your coach resign two days later, to come back from all that and play some of the best football they’ve played yet this season shows that there is definitely something good to build on with this team.

I only managed to have a working stream for part of the second half so I unfortunately missed all of our goals as they happened. I was able to follow the commentary online and on the radio though, and while it certainly helped that Iraklis were clearly not having a great day, there was no doubt that our attacking play was quite good. We seemed to have a lot of players who all found their form at once such as Barbosa and Vargas, but the key to this game was Mantalos. He didn’t manage to score a goal himself (though he did come close on a nice shot from far out), but he was heavily involved in almost all of the goals we scored. The game showed us just how important a role he can play when he is fit and in form and while it gives me some relief knowing we can make and finish chances, I also feel like we have such a wasted opportunity. With a player like Mantalos, who is able to read and set up plays so well, its such a shame that we did not invest a little more in some solid strikers, people who could latch on to the balls he sends in and finish consistently.

I’m not too sure how we looked defensively, partly because Iraklis had so few opportunities to create anything dangerous in our own ends. Kolovetsios played instead of Tzanetopoulos for the game, so I’ll be interested to see if Manolas sticks with Kolovetsios for the cup game this week as well.

Our next two games are a cup game away to Xanthi, and PAO away. Two tough games, but I’m actually confident we can get anywhere from four to six points of the two games. Xanthi will be tough but I feel like something special clicked last game and I certainly hope we can carry the momentum through to that game too. We’ve already played Xanthi away this season and while we didn’t end up scoring, we weren’t exactly outplayed either. With Mantalos on form, I’m sure we can get the win.

I’m without a doubt worried about the PAO game away, but PAO lost 3-1 today to PAOK, and derbies can always go either way. PAO’s form is nothing exceptional, and I actually don’t think they have a particularly great team this season. They’ll have  the advantage of playing at home, and they definitely have a few solid players, but I think if we play well then we can definitely compete pretty evenly with them.

For those who haven’t been following the news lately regarding our coaching situation, we are supposedly pretty close to signing Gus Poyet as our next manager. I’m not entirely familiar with him, but I know he has some experience in the Premier League which can’t be a bad thing. I know some people were hoping for a manager with more experience, but perhaps having someone younger with some Premier League experience might benefit us more in the end, especially as far as attracting new players is concerned. I’m hoping something will be wrapped up in the next few days, but on the other hand I like what Manolas did for our game against Iraklis (even though it was quite similar to the team Dellas was fielding) so I wouldn’t mind seeing him continue until just past the PAO game. I’m a bit worried that having a new coach come in now before such important games might affect the players a bit.

http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/sport/football/sunderland-afc/sunderland-ex-manager-gus-poyet-wanted-by-aek-athens-1-7533800

Olympiakos 4-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by alexaek

Its always painful loosing a derby, and more so when you lose by so many goals. But what made this loss sting even more was the fact that Olympiakos played like garbage. Absolute garbage, but we still could not beat them.

If we had the AEK of five, ten, of fifteen years ago, when we had players like Scocco, Blanco, Liberopoulos, Dellas, Papastathopoulos, Zikos, Katsouranis, Tsiartas, Demis, etc… This Olympiakos team of today would not have stood a chance. If we had a team that compared to the teams we had in the past, we would have clinched the title before the league even started. Instead, despite having just started a new chapter in our history, and having an owner with extremely deep pockets, all we can hope for with our current team is a chance of finishing in the playoffs and maybe qualifying for Europa League this year.

These ambitions might be okay for a team like Iraklis, Atromitos, or Panionios, but they are not the ambitions we should have for AEK. Unfortunately though, its all we have at the moment and I can’t help but put a lot of the blame on Mellissanidis. We lost the yesterday’s game on our own yesterday. Was the officiating horrible? Of course it was (who was expecting otherwise). We had three offsides called against us that shouldn’t have been called, we got cards for non-fouls while Olympiakos we’re pulling our shirts and dragging us down left, right, and centre without even getting a talking to. Not to mention the fact that their first goal was a clear foul on Didac…

None of this matters to me though because we hardly deserved much from this game at all. The players are to blame for sure since they created far too many mistakes, wasted far too many chances, were not composed when they needed to be, and had no idea what was going on tactically for much of the game. However, there is only so much they can do. They aren’t a bad team, but they’re clearly not great either, and also far too unexperienced for high pressure games (two terrible performances and two losses in our first two derbies clearly shows this). Like I said earlier, Olympiakos were not great either, and we managed to create chances and hold onto possession for much of the game. But the difference between the two sides, aside from the refereeing, was that Olympiakos we’re able to finish the chances they had when they needed to.

I’ll also have to blame Dellas for our loss. It’s been mentioned a lot online already, but the moment that really changed everything for us was when Dellas took Simoes off and replaced him with Buonanotte. I don’t feel like putting Buonanotte on was a bad choice, but Barbosa should have been taken off, not Simoes. Simoes was one of the few players who was helping us keep possesion in the middle while Barbosa was doing very little all game. I know Barbosa has had some decent form lately and maybe Dellas was hoping he would work some magic, but he clearly took a risk that didn’t pay off as almost immediately after the substitution, we completely lost any control of the game that we had before.

Having said all of that, there is one person who I hold more responsible for yesterday’s result than anyone else. For the past two seasons we’ve finally had an owner that could bring some stability to the team. He brought hope to the team, promises of a stadium, and he was not afraid to say what he had to say to stand up for us. He promised AEK would return strong, he said Olympiakos and PAO would fear us, he said he would clean up the league, he said he would build a stadium, he said this, he said that. What has he actually done though? I was happy to see someone who was willing to speak up, who made us confident that good times we’re coming again, but I’m starting to quickly realize that Melisanidis is all talk and little else. Its early still, and I want to give him a chance, but he has done hardly anything for the team until now and its doing us no good at all.

For someone with the money he has, why have we not yet built a good squad? Why couldn’t we go after some solid players, maybe someone like Scocco instead of Djebbour. Why do we still have to count on Aravidis and Chrisantus to score goals for us. Why are we relying on inexperienced centre backs like Tzanetopoulos? I have nothing but respect for Aravidis, Chrisantus, and Tzanetopoulos, but these guys alone are not the level of players we need to be able to field a solid, championship worthy team. These players will never be able to compare to previous AEK teams, not on their own at least. Is that bad thing? Not if we were Panionios, or Iraklis, but we are AEK. We don’t manage to get 70,000 supporters in a stadium to watch a team that is good enough for fifth place. We haven’t had previous generations of AEK teams build a legacy only for us to get where we are now, and we certainly didn’t go through so many embarassing seasons, only to end up in the third and second division, to become a fifth place First division team.

Melisanidis needs to stop talking, and he needs to realise with the current atmosphere and mindset supporting the team at the moment, we’ll never be where we need to be. Maybe he doesn’t want to spend the money, which I can understand, but then why make us become a third division team, why talk the way you do, only to not actually give us the support we need? I’m hoping this result and the one against PAOK are wake up calls…

And to make one thing clear… I know there was talk before the season about how management didn’t want to spend too much money on what was our first year back in the first division, and I understand that. We’re AEK, but of course we need to build up again. BUT, we didn’t need lots of money thrown at the team. We just needed a better plan and a few solid players, players who could really make the difference. Yesterday’s game was one that we could have taken so easily with a few more experienced players. It really would not have taken much to have built a team that could take Olympiakos, PAO, and PAOK this season. Each one of those teams are weak this year, and we’re just a bit weaker…

I don’t know what to say, but I really hope we’re going to see some sort of change, at least come january. We’ve clearly lost the championship already, but I would love to at least see an AEK that can go into these derbies knowing what they have to do to win. Unfortunately, we didn’t even know how to play in order to take the game, even if we had the players to do it…

To see some video of the horrible officiating, check out this link.

PAOK 2-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, Derby, PAOK, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by alexaek

I want to start off this post on a positive. Sure the loss in a derby never sits well with me, and I definitely expected more from the team, but this result is a badly needed wake up call for our team. Do we have some talented players? Absolutely? Do we have a good team? I think so. Is our team ready to be a top three team in this league? I’m afraid not. Yesterday’s loss exposed a lot to the fans, the players, and Dellas and while its unfortunate that it happened against PAOK, I’d rather it happen early in the season against PAOK, rather than later in the season against a team like PAO or Olympiakos.

I didn’t get to watch the game again, but I managed to follow it and the commentary the entire time just kept getting worse and worse. I really can’t say what was to blame the most. Was it the pressure of playing a derby in Toumba, was it a little too much confidence going into the game, was it Dellas’ formation and player choices? Who knows. I personally am not going to place much blame on Dellas. From what I was reading on the commentary, our players were capable of pretty much nothing on the pitch compared to PAOK. We barely won any 50/50 balls, we were sloppy defensively, we couldn’t hold on to possesion, and when we did manage to get the ball we weren’t able to do anything with it going forward.

What scares me a lot is all this sounds a lot like how we were in our 0-0 draw to Xanthi earlier in the season. I certainly hope not. This is not the 2nd or 3rd division anymore. Every sloppy game we play, we will get punished for it.

What I’m struggling to understand from our performance yesterday is how the entire team, aside from Baroja (I shudder when I think about what the final score would have been had we had a different keeper in nets), could all simultaneously have such a bad day. Even Johansson, who is normally such a rock for us in central mid, was doing nothing at all. When the entire team is off there game, I can’t help but feel like there is some overall psychological factor at play here. Sure it was our first real derby, but I can’t really see how that is any excuse. Many of these players here played during our 1-1 against Olympiakos in Karaiskaki, and those who hadn’t would have played derbies in other leagues at some point in their careers.

I can’t imagine over confidence being a factor either since to be honest, the team really has no reason to be overly confident in themeselves. Sure they’ve had a few decent performances against the smaller teams of the league, but they’ve yet to really prove that they have what it takes to be in the top three of the league, let alone the best.

I don’t know, I’m lost for words really. But, like I said above, its a good wakeup call for the team, and I’m sure we’ll rebound from it. I know we have a defense capable of being organized and stopping any attack in this league, I know we have a midfield that can break up plays and start them, and I know we have the attack required to score a few goals. I’m not worried, I’m really not. If we have a few more games like this, maybe I will start to worry a bit. But we’re still a new team, a team that’s still trying to figure things out.

Unfortunately the highlight video on nova’s website doesn’t seem to be working, so I’ll post a video of the goals here from youtube in the meantime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXj9WDgeRLs

A couple things worth noting from the video: 1), as the commentator mentioned, before our goal we had only three chances, all of which came from set plays. Shows just how lackluster how offense was. 2), we wore our alternate kits today, and I gotta say they look pretty gorgeous in my opinion. Nike is definitely a keeper as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather they keep things simple but with good colours, the way they seem to be doing so far, compared to the overly complicated and ultimately unconvincing designs Puma gave us a couple seasons.

Something else to note from the game is that Simoes seems to have picked up an injury. Not sure how serious it is yet, though I do know that he missed today’s training session. I’m really hoping its not too bad, losing him would be a pretty big blow to the team.