Archive for Djebbour

The Cup Is Ours!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , on May 17, 2016 by alexaek

I try to look at things rationally most of the time. I like to take things for what they are and not take from them something that simply isn’t there since doing so usually just leads to disappointment. Tonight though, I have to make an exception.

I’ll have to start off by saying that I didn’t get the chance to watch the match live since I had things booked from a while back that I couldn’t change at all. At first I wasn’t as upset as I normally would have been about missing the game; afterall, with how long the whole fiasco had been dragged out I was more just hoping it would all be over. Knowing we wouldn’t have any fans in the stands also didn’t help and on top of that, I figured one way or another, someone or something, would have made sure we didn’t get the chance to win.

I knew we already beat Olympiakos once this season, but part of me figured certain influential factors would be at play to make sure Olympiakos getting the double would just be a formality. As we saw when they played Tripolis last year, things seem to happen to make sure games like these go their way.

I guess I didn’t realise that it was possible to have a Cup final in Greece where refereeing didn’t interfere with the game at all. I guess I also didn’t realise that we do in fact have a better team than them. Obviously the rational side of me would still be saying that no, Olympiakos still has a stronger team than us. But tonight, I can’t help but look back at what we did and feel that we are absolutely the stronger team. Twice this season we took them on, shut them out of the game, and took our chances to come away with the win. Maybe we didn’t get the humiliating wins we all would have liked, but we got the job done and that in itself is an accomplishment considering the different budgets involved between the two sides.

I saw the highlights and I must say that we did really well to finish the chances we had. Both of our goals were solid plays, not goals scored through flukes or good luck, which is always nice to see. They might complain that we beat them off a penalty last game, but they can’t say a thing about the goals we scored today, even if certain players and staff might have the nerve to do just that.

 

More importantly than how we played though, is what this game meant for the team, the supporters (including all of us), and Greece in general. Firstly, I can’t imagine a better way of ending our first season back. Sure, the championship would have been nice but that was obviously never an option. To win the Cup though, with players who were not too long ago playing with AEK in the third and second divisions of Greece, is an incredible accomplishment. And not only is it an accomplishment for the team, but it shows that AEK is finally back. Work still needs to be done, we’re nowhere near the level we can be, but the team we all know and love is finally back.

The win also means so much for us supporters of the teams, those of who love the team through the good times and the bad times, through all the wins and all the losses. Supporting AEK isn’t always easy, especially not in a country where everything seems stacked against you but we have no choice since this team means so much to us. We’ve supported this team through all the times we all hoped we would never see and so I have to say that, though this Cup is for the players, I feel like its also ours in a way. We don’t support this team looking for recognition since the support we give is unconditional, or at least I like to think that it is. Still, its nice to see some reward for all that we give whether its going to stadium every week, travelling to away games, waking up at ridiculous hours to watch the games in places like Australia, or just simply being a supporter even when first division football is still two years away.

For those of who had to follow the game away from Greece like I did, the videos in the links below are well worth a watch. They give just a tiny sample of what the atmosphere was like at Nea Filadelfeia tonight as the team bus carried the players through a sea of supporters. I remember being there after we won in 2011 and I would have given anything to have been there again tonight.

http://www.aek365.com/a-458635/kolash-sth-filadelfeia.htm

http://www.aek365.com/a-458654/magike-stigme-apo-th-nea-filadelfeia-fwto.htm

http://www.aek365.com/a-458653/to-epiko-video-tou-soiledh-panw-apo-to-poulman.htm

Greek Cup winners for the 15th time in our history. Take a moment if you can to let that sink in. It seems like just yesterday we were playing in the third division, slowly making our way back to where we belong. Now, after three years, we are finally back with the biggest statement we could have hoped for. Hopefully we’ll have plenty more Cups to celebrate in the years to come. Maybe even a championship or two.

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Asteras Tripolis 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2016 by alexaek

Didn’t get the chance to watch the game since I was at work, but I’ll try to summarize some of the main points from the game based on the highlights and what I read during and after the game.

The good:

  • We managed to at least get a point. Asteras are never an easy opponent, as they proved in the first round, so I guess a point isn’t all that bad. We’re still five points ahead of Panathinaikos and have an easier schedule ahead of us.
  • Cordero managed to get some solid game time without picking up an injury, and Buonanotte also got the chance to play a bit.

The bad:

  • We really could not finish, and that is worrying. Its one thing if we struggle to create chances, but we definitely made some chances today but still never really looked like scoring. As my father pointed out, we have a number of set plays but still Poyet didn’t even give Pekhart a chance as a sub. Personally I feel like today would have been a great game for Pekhart, at least after half time.
  • Djebbour is bad… really bad. I wouldn’t be upset if I never saw him play again to be honest. Mistake after mistake, and an absolutely pointless red card to top off what was a terrible performance. Linking to my previous point, I really have to wonder why Poyet went with Djebbour over Pekhart.
  • Asteras had way too many chances. We were lucky to not concede, very lucky. Based on what I saw from the highlights, I would even say that Asteras looked more dangerous inside the box than we did, and our sloppy defending did little help. Terrible clearances, poor tackles or a lack of any sort of tackle when it was needed, we ended up giving Asteras way more room and time than we should have.
  • We should have had a penalty after Iglesias pulled Lambropoulos down in the box. How neither the ref not the linesmen saw it I really can’t understand.

So not a great game overall. At least both teams managed to create a few chances, but we really could have and should have come away from this game more. Its games like these though that show how desperately we need players with experience, calm nerves, and motivation. Sure we got some big derby wins and theres no denying that our players have the right attitude at times, but we need a team that will walk away from games like today’s with three points and without even struggling to do it. I know everyone always says it, but its games like these that always count in the end. The derby wins are nice, but we absolutely need to get all three points from the smaller games where a team like AEK should always be the favourite.

Not much else to say about the game since I didn’t actually get the chance to watch it, but I will mention the fact that Zuculini was in the stands to support the team, having travelled from Athens to Tripoli with crutches just so he could be there with them. I don’t know whats in store for him, and whether we’ll actually ever see him play for us again, but the fact that hes been attending practices and following games despite still recovering from his injury is quite something. There’s no doubting that he wants to be part of the team and I can only hope that he recovers fully so we can see him action again. I’m sure he still has a lot more to offer.

One final thing to note was that Johansson picked up an injury. Definitely not something I want to hear with playoffs coming up rather quickly, but judging from what I’ve heard, it doesn’t sound too serious. He’ll need some time off, but I’m hoping he’ll be back within a game or two.

Highlights on the NovaSport sight as usual:

http://aek365.novasports.gr

Atromitos 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Dellas, Greek Soccer, Greek Super League, Injuries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2016 by alexaek

Just like that, our winning streak comes to an end. It was an unfortunate way for us to lose but I’m hoping that the loss at least serves as a wake up call for the team, a wakeup call which we desperately need following our performance today.

So how did we play? Terribly. Did we deserve to lose? Absolutely. Its hard to find one person to blame the performance on since it seemed like there were very few players who came out today to win. Djebbour did absolutely nothing today, Mantalos seemed to have no imagination, Vargas was quieter and sloppier than Djebbour, and our defense had no idea how to handle any counter attack that was thrown at them.

The game started off slowly, but I was sure that it was just our players getting a feel for how Atromitos would be playing. I was sure that by about the 20th minute we’d start to see some life from our players but the whole first half ended up passing by without one solid chance being created.

Part of me wants to blame Atromitos for playing so defensively that we just couldn’t find a way through but I know that the blame falls on us entirely. Throughout the first half we had possession, we were able to keep Atromitos at bay, but could not find any way of getting a dangerous ball into their box. Even corners for us consistently lead to nothing at all with the corners we were taking more often than not landing right in the keeper’s gloves.

Games like this really make me wonder why Poyet refuses to give Buonanotte more of a chance. Could it be that he thinks he lacks the physicality to be able to hold his ground? Does he something at practice that we aren’t able to experience ourselves? Its possible, but could playing Buonanotte really be any worse than playing Djebbour and Vargas? On games like today’s, with Atromitos parking so many men in front of the net, we need players who can dribble a ball in to the box rather than relying on long balls which will always be defended with ease from one of Atromitos’ eight defenders. Playing Buonanotte from at least half time would have really given us far more options, options which we just did not have otherwise. Even the addition of Platellas in the second half added a bit of life to the team but it still wasn’t enough.

Aside from the awful performance by players such as Djebbour, Vargas, and Arzo, what hurt us most today was the absence of Simoes and Barbosa. Without Simoes today, Johansson was forced to do most of the hard work himself with Zuculini also providing support either beside or behind him. On top of that, the shaky performance from our defenders meant that Johansson and Zuculini had to stay back often to provide defensive support while not being able to contribute to creating any solid attacking plays. Unlike previous games where Johansson and Simoes were able to hold on to the ball and bring it into the half where they could distribute to one of our attacking players, we instead had to rely on Mantalos and Aravidis coming back to set up plays to Djebbour and Vargas (a set up which really did not work well).

Overall we seemed tired, unimaginative, and perhaps even a bit complacent. Of course we were on a good roll, but at no point can we take any match for granted. I hate to say it, but we are nowhere near the level where we can be considered clear favourites against any team in the league. Hopefully the players were reminded of that today because if they play the way they did today against Olympiakos next week, we’ll be in for quite the embarrassment.

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w62qG02W9s

By the way, the standings from AEK below are: AEK with 42, Panathinaikos with 38, and PAOK with 34. Both PAO and PAOK lost over the weekend meaning today’s game would have been a huge chance to go 7 points clear of PAO and 11 clear of PAOK… Unfortunate that we couldn’t take advantage of that. To make things worse, there was some trouble after the match involving our supporter’s after the match which means we possibly face bans for our fans, and even point deductions. Its unclear whether we’ll have fans in the stands for the game against Olympiakos next week, but it seems quite likely that we’ll be facing PAO in an empty OAKA…

 

AEK Through to Cup Semi-Finals

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Draw, Greek Cup, Greek Football, PAOK with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2016 by alexaek

It wasn’t the easiest of wins for us today as Iraklis proved to be quite determined for a goal, but we managed to do enough for a 0-1 win. Of course, this now puts us at 9 wins out of 9 games so far in 2016, a stat which I find reassuring going into four very difficult league games.

Today’s win was very much a formality as we almost all but guaranteed our progress to the next round, but I was glad Poyet took the time to give our new signings some playing time. Zuculini started the match and from what I read did a pretty decent job for his first appearance of the season. Generally, we were holding back quite a bit in the first half so there were only so many opportunities for him to get involved but judging from the commentary I was following, he looked promising every time he was involved with a play.

Pekhart also got some time on the pitch, though he came on as a sub for Buonanotte later in the match. Hard to say how he looked since he came on so late, but hopefully we’ll be seeing more of him this weekend.

Our only goal was scored by Mantalos, the second goal in a row for him now. The finish was well taken but what really made the goal one worth watching is the passing that led up to it. Its the kind of passing that I feel really highlights why we’ve been doing so well under Poyet. Both Buonanotte and Djebour, the two involved with setting up the goal, took the extra second to seek out the better pass rather than simply passing the ball forward and hoping it leads to a chance. If we can play like this against Olympiakos and PAO, we can definitely do some damage.

Unfortunately, we did not really manage to make our mark on the game despite creating some chances, though its understandable. We had the game wrapped up before it started and we have some big games coming up so I understand if Poyet wanted the team to take it easy and not go all out if they didn’t have to. It was too bad to see Soiledis be subbed off so early though with what seems to be a pulled muscle.

We finally got to see Baroja return to action as Poyet decided to give Anestis a well earned break, and I found this promising to see. It gives me the impression that Poyet really does take Anestis seriously and considers him an option for starting keeper, something I was worried wouldn’t happen.

All in all we got the result we needed and we’ve booked our place in the semi-finals of the cup. Still to early to tell who we’ll be facing in the next round as the draw isn’t until next week, but there’s definitely the possibility we could be facing either PAOK, PAO, or Olympiakos. At this point I can’t see Olympiakos not making it to the final and even though I don’t want to get ahead of myself, there’s nothing I would love to see more than us get our revenge against them in the final. We’ll find out for sure either way at the draw next week.

Highlights for the game can be watched below:

PAS Giannina 0-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Dellas, Derby, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Keepers, PAOK, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2016 by alexaek

Our fantastic start to 2016 got even better after we got an important three points away against in cold and wet Northern Greece. Conditions for the match were less than ideal as the rain that had fallen the previous couple of days meant the pitch was in terrible shape, but our players handled the situation very well. In fact, with how well they were moving the ball around at times I often forgot that there was even anything wrong with the pitch.

It was a good game from most of the team though there were certainly a few players who never really managed to get into the game. From what I could see, Djebbour especially stood out. From the moment he came on in the second half, I rarely saw him make any effort. I hardly even saw him run as he spent most of his time taking jogging slowly and idly around the pitch, almost as if he wasn’t even really aware of what was going on around him. He  can play, we all know it, but the effort he gives, especially beside someone who never stops like Aravidis, is disappointing. I know he’s always been like this, but it seems to be getting worse, to the point where its really not worth playing him. I’d much rather we call up someone from our academy or make a cheap singing of another striker from the Superleague rather than play Djebbour when he’s being a spectator the way he is.

Another player who disappointed me yet again was Vargas. Sure he scored the goal, but I hardly see him contribute aside from scoring. When he has players like Simoes and Johansson around him, players who are constantly getting involved, he really has to carry his weight some more. Otherwise, it just ends up holding Simoes and Johansson back and ends up giving them one less option, options we desperately need when we play against a team that defends like PAS.

Defensively I thought we were mediocre today, not terrible but we certainly still allowed PAS far too much time near our goal. PAS do have a good team for sure, but we need to be able to hold back teams a lot better than we do. We need to be able to apply more pressure but without leaving ourselves too vulnerable, something we can’t quite do yet with the centre backs we have. It too often seems to be one or the other; either we apply some pressure and end up leaving ourselves vulnerable and open at the back, or we hold back but then end up giving our opposition too much time on the ball and too much time to form an attack. Hopefully we sign a more experienced centre back soon to help us a bit, its been far too long since we had players like Dellas or Kyrgiakos back there.

Players who stood for me were Johansson (is anybody surprised?), Simoes, and Barbosa, all players who seem to have settled very well into the positions Poyet is playing them in. However, most of my credit and praise has to go to Anestis. For the second game in a row he saved a penalty, a penalty which could have tied the game for PAS. He also managed to keep a clean sheet again (in fact, in the five games we’ve played in 2016, hes only conceeded once) and just generally had a solid game. I saw one corner where he seemed a bit shaky but otherwise, he did everything he had to which is all we can ask of him at this point. Without a doubt his confidence is skyrocketting and I can only hope he continues to keep it up. Of course, his real test will be next weekend against PAOK, a game we absolutely must win.

All in all it was a good performance. By no means was it perfect, but we did what we had to, getting the three points away at a difficult team. The three points meant even more after PAO dropped points at home to Panionios, drawing 0-0. That draw now means we are four points ahead with 36 points while PAO have 32. PAOK also have 32 (though they’ve also played a game less), so a win for us in the derby next weekend will mean we keep our distance between us and PAOK as well.

Highlights, as usual, can be found on the NovaSports site here: http://aek365.novasports.gr

 

Unfortunately, our basketball team had a far more disappointing weekend. We played PAOK away, a game I was worried about. We’ve already beaten them this season, and I feel we have a slightly better team, but an away game against PAOK will never be easy.

The game started off well, almost too well. I woke up about a quarter of the way through the game to find that we were not only winning, but we were winning by 20 points. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I quickly got out of bed and set myself up with a stream in time to catch the third and fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it was then that things took a very quick turn for the worse. Just like that, PAOK had managed to close the gap. All of a sudden they were outplaying us, and we could hardly handle them. Too make things worse, our shooting (which was pretty good for the first two quarters) became terrible, with three pointer after three pointer missing the target. It was painful to watch, seeing us miss all these three pointers rather than just trying to go for the safer two pointers. I could quite tell if the team was told to go for three, or they just couldn’t break PAOK’s defense enough to be able to get close enough for any safe two pointers. Either way, it was not nice to watch. Sure enough, with just a couple minutes to go, PAOK managed to claw their way back into the lead for good, winning the game 79-75. We’re still in third place but with Aris’ loss and a win over PAOK, we would have been able to put some good distance between us fourth place. It was a terrible game to watch, but I’m hoping the team can learn something from it.

AEK 2-1 Xanthi

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, football, Greek Super League, Keepers with tags , , , , , , , on January 9, 2016 by alexaek

A good Saturday for AEK with wins for both our football and basketball teams (Arkadikos 74-78 AEK).

We played well today, especially offensively. We managed to get most of our attacking players quite involved with Barbosa, Cordero, Mantalos, and Aravidis all constantly playing some sort of a role in our attacks. Its been especially nice to see Cordero back as a starter since he has for two games in a row now been one of our better players. He plays a similar role to Johansson when we’re attacking in the sense that he can hold on to the ball well and pick out the right pass rather than just getting rid of it first chance he gets.

With a little more concentration and organization up front, possibly another striker playing alongside Aravidis from the start, we would have quite possibly ended the game with a much higher score for us. We made chance after chance but we just failed to create the right options inside the box. Personally for today, I would have gone with Aravidis and Djebbour as strikers from the start, and would have kept Vargas on the bench. I know Vargas scored last game (in our 0-1 win against Levadeiakos for the cup), and he did provide the assist for our second goal today, but I just felt like he dissapeared for far too long at a time. There were stretches of time when I would forget he was even playing until I heard the commentator mention his name. Especially considering we had Simoes, Cordero, Barbosa and Mantalos all providing attacking options, I think we would have been alright holding Vargas off until possibly the end as a sub. All I know is that I really feel we could have benefited from having another attacker playing alongside Aravidis.

Defensively today we weren’t too great. Galo and Didac both provided a lot of options down the wings when we were attacking, but our entire back four seemed to be caught off guard on a number of Xanthi’s attacks. Personally, I’m really not too happy with Arzo. He seems slow, especially when facing a quick counter attack, and just generally does not provide the kind of energy we need to be seeing from him. Thankfully, despite our defense not being on their best form, Anestis had a great game in goal. He made one poor clearance which could have resulted in a chance for Xanthi, but otherwise he was pretty solid. He positioned himself well, made good saves both from set plays and live play, and on top of all that he saved a penalty which ultimately allowed us to hold on to the win. He got the MVP award of the game and personally I feel that he deserves it. I know he has constantly made mistake after mistake, but a couple games like this will do wonders as far as helping boost his confidence and giving him the chance to keep the mistakes to a minimum. He’s a good keeper and when he’s not making stupid mistakes, he can be very reliable. He just needs the chance to get a few good games under his belt to prove to himself and the fans that he can be relied on when he needs to be.

Highlights for the game can be seen either here or on youtube for poorer quality. Our second goal by Barbosa was absolutely beautiful.

Platanias 0-3 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , , on January 4, 2016 by alexaek

First off, I hope anyone reading this enjoyed their holidays. I managed to escape the cold of Canada for a couple weeks which is always a good thing..

I’m still recovering from a flu I got over the holidays, so I’ll just make a quick post today. Two important games worth noting though from yesterday. Obviously, we got a convincing three points from our game against Platanias in Chania, but we also played PAO in basketball. Unfortunately, the result wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but the team definitely put in a good effort and ended up just barely losing 64-67. For much of the game we were ahead and had we just made a few less errors, or scored a couple more three pointers, we could have come away with our biggest win of the season. Unfortunate loss, but the team is on the right track and as the commentator on the radio said during the game, its nice to finally see a real derby between AEK and PAO.

As far as our game against Platanias, our scorers were Barbosa and Djebbour with Barbosa scoring the first two. His first goal is especially worth watching. Unsurprisingly, since its happened to us before this season, we had a perfectly good goal called back for no valid reason, but the match was never really too much in doubt for it to matter all that much. The win ensures we stay in second place, with 30 points, though PAOK and PAO are still awfully close.

Highlights can be found here: http://www.aek365.com/a-435254/to-magiko-1-0-tou-mparmposa-video.htm