Archive for Didac

A Return to Better Days

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by alexaek

If you’re reading this, you probably noticed that I never wrote anything about our 2-1 loss to PAOK in the Cup final. Really it came down to not wanting to write anything since that game was a disaster from before kickoff. It started with the terrible organization, with the game almost being cancelled since the seats didn’t have numbers on them. Then came the fighting between “supporters” within the stadium as well as outside of it. Of course we had the game itself, which was a disappointment on every level thanks to our awful performance and the offside game winner for PAOK.

Overall, not the kind of final I was hoping for. Certainly not the kind of final that will be remembered fondly throughout Greece by fans of the sport aside aside from the PAOK fans.

Thankfully, we were able to somewhat put all that behind us with not one great result, but two. It started with our basketball team managing, after nine years, to finally beat PAO. Even better, the win tied up our semi-final series with them at one game apiece. It was a tight game until the end, as many of our derbies have been this season, but a huge win regardless which gives us enormous momentum heading into the third game. The win only ties the series and we still have plenty of work to do, but to finally get past this hurtle and win a game against our cross town rivals shows that its definitely possible. Will it be enough to get us to the finals? Well I hate to say that PAO are still favourites but at this point nothing is guaranteed anymore.

The day only got better from that point on as we headed north to take on PAOK for the first round of the playoffs. We clearly came out seeking to make a statement after the loss to PAOK in the cup and for the majority of the first half we were easily the stronger team. As the commentator on the radio put it at one point, AEK seemed like the home team as we outplayed PAOK throughout the pitch. The breakthrough came early on as Didac, who had a great game along with most of our defense, latched on to a perfect ball from Mantalos and neatly tucked in the finish. His goal would prove to the deciding factor as neither side would find a way to score from then on, but there were certainly chances.

The game was a great way to put everything from the cup behind us as not only does it get us a huge three points away in Toumba, but it puts us first in the playoff table after Panionios and PAO tied earlier in the day (though Panionios were unfortunate not to come away with the win). Its still early but to already find ourselves in first after starting with fewer points than PAOK and PAO is the best outcome we could have hoped for after the first round of playoffs. Our next match is at home against Panionios, a game I feel like we should comfortably take, while PAO host PAOK in Athens. I could personally see that game going either way as PAO will be seeking to get some revenge of their own after being knocked out of the cup while PAOK will be looking to recover lost ground after losing, not to mention they’ll also be out to prove that they were legitimately the better team against PAO in the cup semi-finals.

 

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AEK Bounces Back with Two Great Wins

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2017 by alexaek

After our unfortunate result against PAO last weekend, the team wasted no time in finding some form again with two impressive results: a 2-0 away win against Platanias and a comfortable 5-0 win against Kerkyra in Athens.

The 2-0 win against Platanias was particularly noteworthy for two reasons, first of which was the fact that not only did Vinicius start the game at left back, but he also played a fantastic game which also saw him score the opening goal. Also worth noting from the game in Chania was the fact that Aravidis came on as a sub and scored yet again. His goal was a beautifully taken one and judging by what Jimenez had to say after the match, I think we might see Aravidis play at least a few more times before the season ends.

Our second game, which took place today, was an all too easy 5-0 win against Kerkyra. Didac, Pekhart, and Bakasetas were the scorers with Pekhart and Bakasetas both scoring two. Definitely a performance which helps boost confidence heading into the homestretch before the playoffs but what I appreciated just as much as the score was seeing Bakasetas hold a Lambropoulos jersey after the game as a show of support for his injured teammate. Hearing the comments that players have made, it sounds like the atmosphere in the locker rooms is more positive than it has been all season which is something that was sorely missing with previous managers, and our performances so far with Jimenez certainly suggest the same.

It was an interesting day in the superleague today with PAOK beating Panathinaikos 3-0 and Olympiakos barely holding on for a 1-1 draw with Levadeiakos. The results don’t chance anything at the top of the table, but it sets up an exciting final two games as far as the 2nd through 5th place teams are concerned.

 

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

PAO 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, Derby, football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by alexaek

A point from the first derby for our new coach is not a bad result at all, even if we could have come away from this game with all three points. Considering he has only had two practice sessions to get familiar with the players, he did a fairly decent job in my opinion, even if I personally would have liked to have seen a couple different changes. We were set up pretty well defensively but it was our midfield set up which allowed us to keep the game from getting out of our control. The pressure we applied throughout prevented PAO from ever getting really comfortable in the middle of the pitch both when attacking and defending, forcing them to attack from the wings quite often (something which they weren’t too good at today). When they did manage to get an attack to end up in the center of the pitch, they were only ever able to get an effort on goal via long shots, shots which very rarely threatened us except for one shot from Berg which hit the cross bar.

Offensively, we were able to get the ball to transition quite quickly, with Johansson, Simoes, Barbosa, and Galo doing well to move the ball around and control the centre and the wings. Unfortunately though, we were clearly lacking in the final third of the pitch, with Chrisantus not providing the attacking options that he should have and Vargas not being dangerous enough aside from a couple chances.

I’ll have a go at some of my own player ratings for today’s game. For once in as long as I can remember, I had a stream which did not skip or cut out once for the entire match so I was able to get a good sense of how we were playing.

Baroja: He was solid, positioning himself perfectly and making the saves he had to. Could not ask for any more from him really, did the job he had to and did it with confidence. Definitely something we were missing last year with Anestis.

Galo: Provided a lot of energy to the match, did well offensively and defensively. He did make some mistakes, but his pace meant he was often able to make up for them. He also came close on a free kick.

Lambropoulos and Kolovetsios: They were both pretty solid in the back, stopping PAO from getting too close to our net whenever they had the chance. They were decent on the set plays and generally managed to handle whatever PAO had to offer. Had this been a stronger PAO team, perhaps things would have different, though that would be impossible to tell. Either way, a solid centre back pair that Poyet should definitely consider sticking with.

Didac: Also did a pretty good job defensively and offensively. He didn’t have as much to work with defensively as PAO had fewer attacks come down our left wing, and he also did not provide the kind of runs that Galo would, but he still ventured forward and offered support whenever needed. He did make a few mistakes though.

Johansson: WIthout him, this may have been a very different game. I know I’ve said this before, but he is without a doubt one of the best singings we’ve made in the past three years. Always such a calm and assuring presence in the middle of the pitch, he is able to win balls well and hold on to them until the right pass can be made. He doesn’t stand out the way a player like Barbosa or Simoes does, but I would say his contribution to our performances is possibly more important than any other player on the pitch.

Simoes: He had a good game, though I’m not sure I would give him the 9 out of 10 that AEK365 gave him. He linked up well with the rest of our midfield and provided options and runs when needed.

Vargas: Had a phenomenal chance early on, but he seemed to be quiet for large periods of the game. In fact, I often saw Chrisantus coming back to link up with our central midfielders often when Vargas was nowhere to be found.

Mantalos: Had some very good runs and was key to any attack we had down the left, but unfortunately his crosses and set play deliveries were very poor today. What makes Mantalos such a critical player is the way he can get balls into dangerous places so well, and when he isn’t doing that as was the case today, the whole team suffers. I know he can do better, and I’m confident he will in our next game, assuming the injury he picked up today does not turn out to be too serious.

Barbosa: Probably the best attacking player for us today, showing a lot of ambition going forward. His effort was unfortunately more often than not wasted as we had no attacking presence in front of the PAO goal, but he was involved whenever he could have been and with a solid striker or two, he can end up being one of our most important players. Unfortunately, he was not linking up well with Chrisantus today.

Chrisantus: I’ve heard a lot of negativity towards Chrisantus, though I still have to say that I disagree. Is he my first choice for striker? Of course not, but with the way we played today, it hardly mattered what strikers we had up front. With so few good balls being played into the box, there was only so much he could do. It got to the point where he was playing deeper and deeper into midfield as the game progressed, looking to help create something up front. His presence in the box on set plays was not the best, but neither were the balls being played in so again I don’t feel like he is to blame. He will definitely need to calm down when he was possession though. Far too often he looks uncomfortable and nervous when he has the ball, and it was definitely a reason he was making so many poor passes. I truly believe that if he learns to calm down a bit when he’s playing, he can be a very effective player upfront.

Overall, neither team looked very dangerous. Overall PAO created the better chances, but there were spells when they were non-existent such as when they lost Lagos to injury early on. We had our chances to, but as with PAO none of the chances we created were very convincing. In fact, if it were not for PAO’s cross bar, I would say that both teams were equally dull offensively. As far as midfield is concerned, we were able to take control with far more confidence than PAO, but I would have to say that PAO overall played a better defensive game than we did, but only slightly.

It was an unfortunate result since a stronger AEK would have taken this game with ease. But the reverse could also be said about PAO. If they had the teams they had in the past, I would have to say that they would have walked all over us. Its unfortunate that both teams are so weak compared to what they used to be because if that were not the case, Olympiakos’ lead at the top of the table would have been far smaller at this point.

In terms of coaching, as I mentioned above I felt that Poyet had us set up quite well. Possibly the only thing I would have done differently (and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way) would have been to put Buonanotte in far earlier. I possibly also would have taken Mantalos out earlier and put Platellas on to replace him. Poyet’s decision to put Cordero one however was a very good one since it was a move that allowed us to keep our control of the midfield at a time when it was starting to slip away from us.

Surprisingly, I felt the ref had a pretty good game. It was a pretty high contact game but he made the right choices for the most part as far as calling fouls, and he stayed away from the cards when he was able to. It was quite refreshing actually to see a derby played where the ref wasn’t a key factor. The same can’t be said for Olympiakos’ game with Veria yesterday, but what else is new…

At the moment, the only highlights I can find are on NovaSport’s site here: http://aek365.novasports.gr

AEK 1-0 Atromitos

Posted in AEK, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2015 by alexaek

An unconvincing scoreline to accompany a similarly unconvincing performance for AEK. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but we certainly didn’t play the best football I’ve seen from the team.

If one thing is clear from today’s game, its the fact that we desperately need some more attacking presence up front. Our midfield did well today to create some chances since Atromitos was determined to shut us down outside their box, but despite all our efforts, it was not until Chrisantus came on as a sub late in the game when we were finally able to break the deadlock.

I have no complaints at all about Aravidis, and despite Chrisantus’ lack of goals scored, I can’t complain about him too much either, but those two are simply not enough of a threat up front. We were so badly lacking the finishing touch today, and sooner or later, not being able to finish our chances will really make the difference when we need it most. Aravidis can’t be expected to do it all on his own, and while Chrisantus seems to contribute overall when hes on the pitch, his goal scoring record certainly needs some improvement. Of course we have Djebbour, but even in the past he was anything but reliable, and to be honest I wouldn’t mind if we got rid of him altogether considering he has hardly proved he deserves a spot, and his attitude seems to be as much of a problem as ever. I’m really worried that our lack of strikers is going to lead to more close matches for us, matches we should be winning with fairly convincing scorelines.

Aside from our offense today, our defense was also quite unconvincing. Galo and Didac did well on the wings, particularly going forward, but Lambropoulos and Tzanetopoulos in the centre seemed unorganized quite a few times (this was particularly a problem since Atromitos seemed to prefer attacking through the centre). Fortunately, our midfield did a fairly decent job of moving the ball around, but with an easily undone central defense and a lack of finishing up front, we’re going to have a tough time in Karaiskaki next week.

It was nice to Cordero come on towards the end of the match. Hopefully he’ll be able to stay healthy for a while as its been quite a long time since we’ve really had the chance to see what he can do.

Overall I can’t say I was too happy with what I saw today. I was never worried about us not finishing with the three points, but the team never really seemed to gel at any point during the game. We were limping through the entire match, and I’m not sure if it was complacency, nerves for next week, or us just being in a poor psychological state in general. Either way, we are now six games in and if the team is going to start showing some truly promising signs, it has to happen now. We have a three point cushion in third at the moment, but with two more big derbies coming up before the winter break, we’ll definitely need to see more from the team if we can expect to comfortably make the playoffs.

For highlights, as usual, check our novasport page: http://aek365.novasports.gr