Archive for Lazaros

One Step Closer to the Double

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Cup, Greek Super League with tags , , , , on April 21, 2018 by alexaek

AEK took huge two steps towards “the Double” this past week after beating Platanias 1-0 in the league and beating Larissa by the same scoreline for the Cup Semi-Final 2nd leg.

The scoreline for the game against Platanias might seem disappointing at first glance, but we did have our chances and Platanias, as would have been expected, played a rather defensive game. Our lone goal was scored by Lazaros, one of the players currently approaching the end of their contracts. It must be said that between the game against Platanias and the cup game against Larissa, hes making a valid case for a contract extension.

Disappointing scoreline or not, it was yet another huge result with regards to our title chase. We’re currently two points ahead of PAOK, but keep in mind a court decision hasn’t yet been reached so we are still very likely to end up being further ahead than that.

The nicest part about the win in Crete against Platanias is that it sets us up to be in the position to win the league tomorrow, at home against Levadeiakos (assuming the court decision goes our way). With this in mind, AEK fans from across Greece, and indeed from across the world, have picked up tickets to the game with the hopes of seeing AEK clinch our first Championship since 1994. From what I’ve been reading, its looking like OAKA might actually sell out which would, as I’m sure we could all imagine, lead to a great atmosphere come kick off.

The Cup game was a rather tense one for me to follow online as with each passing minute, our chances of going through to the final were getting slimmer and slimmer. As the 90th minute approached and the officials signaled for 5 minutes of extra time, it became increasingly clear the some kind of “miracle” was needed for us to get that crucial goal which would put us through to the final. Of course, who other than Lazaros would find a way to get the winner, and with yet another gorgeous goal.

The goal was the talk of Greece the next day, and rightfully so as it was a beauty. It sets us up for a final against PAOK for the second year in a row and all I can hope for is that the result isn’t as disappointing as last year’s result was.

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AEK 2-0 Lamia

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2018 by alexaek

And just like that, were back in the race. Thanks to our 2-0 win against Lamia and Olympiakos’ 1-1 draw in Tripolis, only two points separate 1st and 3rd. As it stands, we currently sit 3rd with 41 points, behind Olympiakos on 42 and PAOK on 43. Its safe to say we haven’t seen a top 3 that was this close in as long as I can remember and it certainly sets up a high stakes encounter when we face Olympiakos in Karaiskaki this coming weekend.

Wasn’t able to catch the game myself as I was away for the weekend, but our goals came courtesy of Lazaros and, unsurprisingly, Livaja. Livaja now sits on 7 goals this season, even with Araujo. Lazaros meanwhile isn’t too far behind either with 5 goals thus far. His goal particularly was a pretty one, not so much for the finish but for the play that lead to it.

The result over the weekend wasn’t anything noteworthy on its own, but it is worth noting that prior to Saturday’s win, we hadn’t scored a goal in two games. Thankfully we managed to get the job done seeing as a loss would have seen us sit 5 points out of 2nd place. As things currently stand, we could very well see ourselves leapfrog Olympiakos into 2nd place, something which I genuinely think we have a chance at doing. Is it likely? No, it never is when you face them in their own stadium, but at the moment I’d say we’re pretty even with them and if the Cup game was anything to go by, we definitely have what it takes to grind out a result. If anything, I would argue that we are even more prepared having just faced them in their own grounds less than a week ago.

 

 

 

Panetolikos 1-4 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2018 by alexaek

Well its certainly nice to be back! Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, and getting back to work and the daily routine that comes with it wasn’t all that exciting but hey, if theres one good thing to take from this time of year, its the fact that we get to watch AEK again!

This year especially is an exciting time since for the first time in as long as I can remember, we start a new year with a legitimate chance at a Championship. Its still far too early to make any guesses as to what might happen come the end of this season, but our game yesterday against Panetolikos was certainly an indication that this team means business.

Now its worth pointing out that despite the fact that we comfortably outscored Panetolikos, it wasn’t always an easy match. They certainly came close a few times but some brilliant goal keeping from Tsintotas kept us in the match. Having said that, our performance offensively was really enjoyable to watch. We saw some great ball movement, brilliant finishing, and it seemed clear to me that not only were the players well rested, but they seemed confident in what their approach to the match should be.

Our first goal came from Bakasetas, a long range effort off of a free kick. It was a beautifully struck shot that had just the right mix of power and dip. Our second goal came from the penalty spot after Lazaros tucked his penalty shot in the lower corner of the net. The penalty was won by Bakasetas after he was taken down in the box. I don’t think there was any doubt that it was a penalty after watching the replays.

Our third goal was the result of some composure on the part of Araujo, who did well to put the ball in the back of the net after a great effort by Bakasetas. Starting to see a theme here? Three of our four goals were either scored by Bakasetas, a result of a penalty he drew, or directly from an assist of his. AEK365 were justified in giving him a 10 out of 10 rating as it was quite easily his best match with AEK in my opinion. His assist on the third goal is worth watching multiple times as it really is quite brilliant. In fact, everything about that goal from the build up to the finish was beautiful to watch.

Our fourth goal was also quite a special one to watch. Not only was the one time football leading up the goal played out perfectly, but the goal itself was scored by the substitute Lopes who had come on less than a minute earlier.

Great stuff overall and though our defense did slip a bit at times, I couldn’t ask for a better start to the new year.

Over the holidays, we made two singings that could help provide some depth to the squad. One of the singings is Erik Moran, the Spanish defensive midfielder we bought from Spanish side Leganes. In addition to that, we also acquired Masoud Shojaei from Panionios, an Iranian midfielder who has played many years of his career in Spain, as well as with the Iranian national team. He had a good season and a half with Panionios and I was personally quite happy to see the singing go through.

Moran didn’t feature in yesterday’s game, but Masoud did. He came on in the 52nd minute and though he had less than half a game to make an impression, he certainly seems to be off to a good start with the club. He played a huge role in our fourth goal and generally showed some composure along with some great ball distribution. Its still a little early to say for sure but I think he could fit in very well with this team.

 

Back To Winning Ways

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2017 by alexaek

After a less than ideal weekend, our football and basketball teams got back to winning ways in the Cup and Champions League respectively. For our football side, it was a 4-0 away win against Panaitolikos that all but secures us a place in the next round courtesy of goals from Lazaros, Bakasetas, Galo, and Giakoumakis.

A win for AEK was always going to be the more likely result, but it was nice to also see the team get back to goal scoring ways after they struggled so much over the weekend against Apollon. It was a pretty strong lineup that Jimenez fielded today with only Galanopoulos being the non-regular. Otherwise it was a lineup similar to what we’ve been used to seeing this season which I didn’t mind considering the team will have a couple weeks to rest before they return after the break. One noticeable player missing was Simoes, who was recently diagnosed with an injury that should keep him sidelined for about 3-4 weeks.

All in all a good result which should give us a chance to rest some key players when the next match takes place in early January. I’m reading up on the match and watching the recording as I write this, but from what I’m seeing it looks like we were clearly the stronger side and generally played some fairly attractive football. That’s a relief to see considering how poor we looked over the weekend. Its promising to see that the team was able to turn things around quickly and not dwell on what happened last weekend for too long, and its also nice to see Barkas get the cleansheet. Considering we don’t really know what will happen with regards to Anestis’ contract, we’ll need all the goaltending we can get from Barkas and Tsintotas.

 

It wasn’t only our football club in action today as we also had a basketball game against Venezia for the Champions League. I had mixed feelings going into this game about whether we’d pull off a result considering we managed to beat them in Italy, but we also didn’t look too great against PAOK over the weekend. Luckily, our basketball team was also able to put their disappointing result behind them and come away with a 84-64 win.

The win was a huge one for us as it puts us 3rd place in our group and in a good spot for qualification to the next round. Green finished the night with 19 points and 10 assists while Mavroeidis also had 19 points complimented by 6 rebounds. Other noteworthy performances came from Sakota who finished with 10 points and Harris and James who both finished with 8 points.

Despite the result and the fact that we find ourselves in 3rd place, the group is still very tight with 3rd to 6th all tied on 14 points. Its worth remembering that the top four teams from each group advance so we’re safe where we are at the moment, but any poor results going forward could be the difference between qualifying and going home early.

Asteras Tripolis 2-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Superleague with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2017 by alexaek

We suffered our first loss over the weekend and though we might be lucky to still be in 1st, we chose an awful weekend to drop so many points. Why you might ask? With PAOK drawing and Olympiakos losing at home, we had a golden opportunity to increase our lead in 1st to 4 points. Instead, we find ourselves lucky to still be in 1st after Lamia beat Panionios earlier today.

It could be worse for sure, but its disappointing still. Its especially disappointing since it feels as though this loss could have been avoided. I missed this match too unfortunately but I followed it and was surprised to see some of the decisions Jimenez went with. What really surprised me at first was the fact that we started with Tsintotas in goal. Now I’m not saying that he was to blame for any of the goals (to be honest I haven’t even seen the highlights yet), but why start with him in possibly our most important game of the season so far? He hasn’t even played yet in the league this season afterall.

We also started with Giannoutsos and Vinicius in defense and it seems as though neither of them had a great game either. Giannoutsos specifically was making his Superleague debut in a high pressure game and Vinicius was apparently largely to blame for the opening goal. It just doesn’t make sense why Jimenez would risk so much in a game like this. I understand that the players were tired, we saw this clearly in our Europa league match earlier this week, but we have two weeks until our next game and plenty of time for the players to rest before then. It seems very odd that Jimenez would make these moves; maybe he thought it was a risk worth taking. Its safe to say that the result was not what he was hoping for so the best we could expect is that he might not take such big risks in the future.

It didn’t sound like the most exciting game and it seems as though when both Livaja and Lazaros are not in the starting lineup, then we really struggle to create genuine chances. Whats really alarming when looking at the stats is that we had 2 shots inside the box while Tripolis had 6. A porous defense and an attack that could hardly create anything worthwhile, definitely not what we like to see. To make things worse, this is the 3rd game in a row now where we concede just after half time, with Tripolis’ opening goal coming in the 47th minute. Its a weird trend if I may say so myself but after seeing it happen three games in a row, I’m starting to wonder if its more than just coincidence.

Overall a disappointing weekend, but like I said we’re still 1st with 13 points while PAOK are closely behind us on 12 points. Its worth noting that after their loss, Olympiakos 7th with 8 points, only 2 points ahead of PAO who got off to an awful start this season. Its definitely an interesting start to the season and while its a little too close for comfort from an AEK supporter perspective, it definitely has more potential to be one of the more exciting championships we’ve seen in a while.

AEK Alone in First

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on September 19, 2017 by alexaek

Lamia 0-1 AEK

A late (and somewhat fortunate) penalty turned out to be the difference for AEK after a game which saw many chances but few goals thanks to some great goalkeeping by Lamia’s Papadopoulos.

It wasn’t a great game but it did provide some entertainment as both sides had their chances to score. Lamia deserve credit for the game because despite being outplayed they still managed to look dangerous at times and were well disciplined defensively. While we did come away with the win, the game gives Jimenez something to think about as we play Lamia again two days from now in our first cup game of the season.

Anestis had a good game, dealing with whatever was thrown his way and our defense was also pretty solid in the centre though I feel like our left wing was left exposed a little too often. Offense wise, it wasn’t a consistent effort from the group. On the one hand, players like Mantalos, Araujo, Livaja, and Lazaros all had pretty good games while both Bakasetas and Klonaridis contributed very little to our attack. I would be a bit worried if I were Bakasetas or Klonaridis because its only a matter of time until Araujo and Livaja are considered for the starting position. On top of that, Giakoumakis should be returning from injury at some point which will create even more competition for spots in our offense.

Much of the talk in the press over the past couple of days revolved around the fact that our penalty should have only been a free kick, and there is definitely some truth to that. I’ll be the first to admit that I think it was a bad call, but if I remember correctly, Lamia’s Pito also should have received a red card so it wouldn’t exactly be right to claim that only AEK benefited from the officiating. Either way the result is what it is and because of it we now find ourselves in first place with 10 points. After four games we are still yet to concede a goal and its looking more and more like we’ll have a very good chance against Olympiakos this sunday. A win on sunday would put us five points clear of Olympiakos which would be an amazing position to be in this early in the season. Its worth noting that Olympiakos play Juventus in the Champions League just a few days after they play us so its safe to say that game might be on their minds which will hopefully affect how they prepare for us. Its also safe to say that their form is anything but stellar after a home loss in the champions league and two straight draws in the Championship.

AEK 3-0 Brugge

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2017 by alexaek

Back in the Group Stages After Six Years

Its been six years since AEK last played in the group stages of the Europa League but that droubt will soon be coming to an end. After a dominant performance in Athens, AEK have confirmed their return and they made sure to make a statement with today’s match.

Reading the comments of supporters all morning leading up to the game, I could sense the optimism right away. From all accounts it sounds like the atmosphere in the stands was fantastic, as if the fans knew right away that there would be a happy ending to today’s match. Sure enough they weren’t disappointed as not only did we come away with the result we were looking for, but we did it in such a confident way. I was listening to the radio as I was walking home from work just after the game had finished and commentators had mentioned that this was possibly one of the more impressive displays they’ve seen from AEK in a European game.

Credit first of all has to go to Jimenez as it sounds like he got the lineup just right today. Defensively it sounds like we gave Brugge very little space and the lack of quality chances they had attests to that. Equally impressive was how we handled our attack as we were able to create numerous high quality scoring opportunities. Lazaros had a fantastic game which was capped off with his opening goal from the penalty spot. Simoes also had an equally great game with AEK365 going as far as giving him a 10 out of 10 rating. They say that this was possibly the best game of his career and I can see some reasoning behind the enthusiasm. Afterall, he scored two goals and was responsible for drawing the penalty that lead to our first goal.

Klonaridis and Mantalos were also extremely effective along with the rest of our attack but one attacking player who stood out even more was Almeida. Its been a while since we’ve seen a genuinely strong performance from him but today he seemed to give it his all as he set up some close calls and also came awfully close to scoring a goal or two himself. Its clear his technique and awareness on the pitch is still there if he choses to apply himself.

Overall the whole team deserves credit from what I’ve been reading. One commentator said its one thing to get the win but its another to go all out and continue searching for goals even after going a goal or two up. People online were worried at half time, noting that we had to be careful not to get too comfortable and to not give Brugge too much space, which was a very valid point. PAO were leading Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at half time last week and ended up losing 2-3. Having said that, not only did we not give Brugge too much space, but we continued to push forward and were rewarded with a third goal to all but seal the win.

Of course, its from this point on that the going really gets tough. Brugge were never expected to be an easy team, and it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, but what lies ahead is where things start to get interesting. The list of teams that we could possibly get drawn against from the first pool almost seems like a pool of teams for a Champions League draw. First pool teams include: Arsenal, Lazio, Milan, Lyon, Villareal, and Athletic Bilbao. Of course there are a few “easier” teams too but the majority of teams in the first pool are all names that would make most teams in Europe worry. Fortunately the second and third pool consist of teams who I think we should, on paper, be able to compete with. Everton is a possible team from the second pool and while they would be a tough match, I would love to see us get some revenge for the last time we played them. I remember living in Athens at the time and going to the game where we lost at home against Everton and one of my teachers at school was a big Everton supporter. He never let me forget it for a week… all I can say is that I would love to look him up if we do come across them in the group stages and manage to get a win.

The draw takes place tomorrow at 2:00 PM Athens time. I’m not certain but I believe a live stream is usually available for those who wish to watch it. If there is a stream, it would most likely be available on UEFA’s website.