Archive for derby

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.

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AEK 3-2 Olympiakos!!!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby with tags , , , , , , , on September 24, 2017 by alexaek

What a game! This is what derbies are all about. If there was any doubt prior to this game as to whether this team could legitimately challenge for the Championship, I think its safe to say that the doubt is now gone.

This game had it all. A great atmosphere, some great goals from both teams, some drama on and off the pitch, and one of the greatest AEK comebacks in recent memory. The excitement leading up to the match was huge, and the game lived up to it all.

Its worth remembering that this game wasn’t just about beating the most hated team in Greece. Winning this game means we now sit 5 points ahead of Olympiakos, alone in first place with 13 points.

All the talk leading up to the game was on the demand for tickets and while we might not have sold out OAKA, the crowd definitely made its presence felt. I don’t know the exact numbers but it looked like the crowd was anywhere between 35,000 to 40,000 strong.

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Its safe to say that nothing compares to the atmosphere of a derby. Photo from AEK365.com

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Photo from AEK365.com

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I thought the banner that originals made for today’s game looked particularly sharp. Photo from AEK365.com

 

As for the game itself, well, it was eventful. It had its ups and downs, it was unpredictable, and it was a very real reminder that this AEK team should be taken seriously by anyone who comes up against it. We started really well with plenty of pressure on the Olympiakos defense. It was clear from the get go which team wanted to win this game more and we had numerous chances early on to start the scoring early.

All the wind was taken out of our sails though when Olympiakos scored against the run of play. I’ll give Marin credit, his finish on the goal was real nice, but our defense fell asleep on that one. They should have been far more aware of the danger, especially considering that Marin is not a player to take lightly despite how Olympiakos might be playing. The first goal for Olympiakos came fairly early so we still had plenty of time to get back in the game, but we lost much of the momentum we built up earlier in the first half after they scored. We had our chances again but I started feeling like half time would be a blessing in disguise in the sense that it would give AEK a chance to regroup.

Unfortunately, any regrouping that might have been done during the break was quickly undone as Olympiakos scored again, this time just after the second half started. Again it was a pretty nice finish, but I feel like our defense could have done better then as well. To be fair to Anestis, there wasn’t much he could have done on either goal and he did make a huge save to keep us in the game earlier on as well.

Down 2-0, a lot of teams would have struggled to find a way back into the game. This AEK team is different though. Thankfully, we have a coach who knows how to read a situation well. At the start of the second half, he subbed on Livaja for Klonaridis, a move which proved to be critical. Klonaridis struggled to make any impact for the most of the game but Livaja brought new life to the team almost immediately.

We struggled to find a way past Kapino but eventually the breakthrough came in 64th minute when a beautifully controlled pass by Araujo found Lazaros alone in the box. Lazaros, who was easily the best player on the pitch today, put the shot away with a one timer that would ultimately open the flood gates.

It wasn’t a smooth road to the end however as some disturbances outside the pitch resulted in the police releasing numerous canisters worth of tear gas into the air. The wind carried the tear gas into the stadium itself leading to discomfort among supporters and players. Now I might not know what exactly was going on outside the pitch, and its certainly disappointing that events like that had to take place at a game like the one we saw today. However, it should be pointed out that perhaps the police could have dealt with the situation in a more suitable way rather than releasing large amounts of tear gas with about 40,000 mostly peaceful supporters just meters away.

Naturally, the tear gas resulted in the game being halted in the hopes that the air would clear enough. Thankfully it did and we were able to continue without too much of a break. It still took a little while for our next breakthrough to come but eventually it did in the 80th minute with some more magic from Lazaros. This time, he put the ball in the net from a free kick that was even prettier than the one he score against Rijeka. It was especially far from the area but he managed to take it so perfectly that there was no chance for Kapino to track its movement. We’ve seen many great free kick takers at AEK in the past like Rivaldo and Scocco but I’m not sure we’ll see a free kick more spectacular than the one we see today for quite a while.

At 2-2, I was quite honestly relieved. A draw would have been a disappointment, but at least it would have kept Olympiakos at bay. The team had other ideas though and it was clear they were going all in for the win. There was no reason for them not to though as Olympiakos were clearly stunned by what had happened and werent quite sure how to react. The fact that their manager got expelled from the game might or might not have made things worse for them but their nightmare really became reality when Mantalos tapped in a Livaja cross just before the 90 minute mark. It wasn’t the prettiest goal compared to what we saw earlier in the game, but it got the job done and ultimately sealed the three points and a remarkable comeback. The look on the faces of the Olympiakos players said it all as did the delirium coming from the AEK supporters.

Theres been lots of promise and hype surrounding AEK this season and this game validated a lot of it. As many people have said, it was one of the best derbies of recent years, up there with the 4-4 Cup final. We saw beautiful goals, nice flowing football, a great crowd, and even the officiating was pretty good (though I feel like Olympiakos could have received a red card earlier in the game). The icing on the cake is the fact that this game has also turned the situation for Olympiakos from bad to worse. Their coach has officially been fired and their collective mental state could not be any worse now going into their game against Juventus.

For us AEK supporters however, this game might be a glimpse of whats to come for AEK this season. If all goes well, we’ll see much more of what we saw today and if thats the case, this might very well be the best season AEK has seen since the early 90s. With a new stadium on its way and progress being made on the construction every day, its pretty safe to say that these are good times to be an AEK supporter. The supporters in Nea Filadelfia certainly thought the same after the game today:

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):

AEK 2-3 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, football, Greek Football, Greek Soccer with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by alexaek

Well I guess all good things must eventually come to an end. After going undefeated for so long with Jimenez as coach, we finally faced our first defeat in months after a heartbreaking loss to PAO.

I was away for the weekend so I didn’t get the chance to watch the game live, but I did record it so when I get the chance I’ll try to catch a bit of it. From the sounds of it though, it seemed like it was quite the entertaining match. The result was definitely not what I had hoped for and to be honest, not what I was expecting. Unfortunately though, you never know what to expect when getting back to action after long international breaks. These breaks often seem to come at a terrible time, as they did for us these past two weeks when we seemed to have some momentum. I was afraid we’d come back a little hesitant and it seems like we did.

Thankfully, we’re still in a playoff spot but had we managed to hold on to the draw rather than concede in the last minute, we would have been only two points off of PAO. Our schedule from this point on though is, in theory, a comfortable one so I imagine we’ll manage to stay in fifth until the end of the season.

I won’t comment much on the game since I didn’t see it, but I will mention that it looked like, once again, our supporters put on quite the show. Although I will say I was a bit disappointed by the size of the crowd.

One final word though, with regards to some interesting news out of Greece last week. It was announced that, for the first time since the playoff format was setup in the Superleague, next season’s champion will also take part in the playoffs. I was never a big fan of the playoff format but having 1st through 5th play for the title at least makes a lot more sense, in addition to hopefully making the playoffs a whole lot more interesting in seasons to come.

On a basketball related note, today was the anniversary of our famous win against Slavia, when our basketball club became the first Greek side to win a European trophy. That famous result of course happened in 1968, and to see some pictures of the team honouring the event, check out this link.

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.

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.

Olympiakos 3-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Dellas, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , on October 2, 2016 by alexaek

So, that was painful. Not really able to write out a longer post at the moment, but if you would like to see some of the painful highlights, you can see them at the link below  (scroll through the videos to see the different goals. I’ll try to post a full highlight video when I find one afterwards.

http://www.novasports.gr/match-center/match-center-agonas/match/1282/olumpiakos-aek/#.V_G1qjRrge0

Just a few brief points about the game:

-This game could have been won by us. Olympiakos deserved the win, but we simply didn’t show up to play. Had we came with a different mentality and game plan, we would have seen a completely different result.

-Ketsbaia lost this game for us from the first minute with his choice of playing Lambropoulos in Simoes’ place (again). I know its not Lambropoulos’ fault, midfield just really isn’t his position. Dellas tried it before and it failed terribly, and now Ketsbaia seems fixed on the idea as well. He simply doesn’t have what it takes at the moment to exert any sort of influence in the middle of the pitch, especially not in a match of this caliber.

-We were far too passive defensively and going forward. There was no attempt to get in Olympiakos’ way, no idea of how to stop them and break up their play, and no idea of how to get our own plays going.

-For once in quite a while, we can at least finally say that we alone lost a game, rather than any influence from the refs or other factors. Like our derby in Karaiskaki last year, its an eye opening match that shows we still are nowhere near the level we seem to think we are at. Olympiakos lost to Larissa last week, and APOEL (at home) earlier this week, why the team wouldn’t be able to give Olympiakos a run for their money today is beyond me.

 

Anyways, thats all from me for now. Going from potentially being alone in 1st last week to now being 5th behind Panionios and Platanias isn’t really where I expected us to be at this point this season, but its still early. I’m curious to see how we rebound from this next game in two week’s time. Won’t be easy as we’re playing Larissa away, but it will be a good test at least to see if we’ve managed to change some things from our performances against Iraklis and Olympiakos.