Archive for Livaja

AEK 4-0 Aris

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2018 by alexaek

After putting behind the disappointing loss to Bayern behind us, we managed to get back on track with a fairly easy 4-0 win over Aris. I wasn’t able to catch the game but what I’m reading so far is that we were actually fairly unimpressive in the first half before opening the game up in the second. Boye opened the scoring early on for us before Ponce added two more in the earlier part of the second half. Livaja finished off the scoring with a fairly routine finish.

While we may have scored a comfortable four goals, Aris seemed to have had their fair share of chances too. Had their finishing been a bit more clinical they could have tied the game up which would have made things a little more interesting. In either case, it was a vital three points in front of an empty stadium that keeps us within reach of PAOK. PAOK meanwhile have to face Panathinaikos tomorrow, a team that has been in surprisingly good form this season. While PAOK are still favourites for the match in my opinion, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if PAO pull off the draw, a result which would keep us at four points behind PAOK. Meanwhile, Oly are still three points behind us though they face Apollon Smyrni tomorrow, a team that has yet to win a game this season. Having said that, Oly played OFI last week and lost 1-0, granting OFI their first win of the season, so anything is possible at this point. Who knows, Apollon might be desperate enough for points that they may just throw everything they have at Oly.

All in all it was a good result for us, and one that we badly needed  considering we’re up against PAO next week. I’m definitely impressed and surprised by how well PAO are managing so far this season, but I’d like to think that the extra maturity and experience on our team should be enough to see us manage a win, even if we’re playing in PAO’s home.

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Apollon Smirnis 0-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Greek Football with tags , , , on October 21, 2018 by alexaek

The last Superleague win for AEK came on the 29th of September when we beat OFI 3-0. It was a bit of a relief to see us return to winning ways then when we beat Apollon 2-0 yesterday through goals from Mantalos and Livaja. The match itself wasn’t as straight forward for AEK as I was expecting it to be. We were clearly the stronger side though Apollon were fairly tight in defense and managed a few attacks of their own. Our biggest downfall though was our decisiveness in front of goal, something that has been affecting us for the past month or two. We’ve got a good defense and our midfield is up to the task as well but it seems like we’re still missing one key ingredient up front.

Mantalos’ goal was a beauty and Livaja’s came as a huge relief since up until that point, I was slightly worried Apollon might snatch a last minute draw just like we did against Olympiakos a couple weeks back. Thankfully they didn’t, and we managed to grab an important 3 points. Olympiakos lost early today which keeps them near us in the standings though PAOK managed to win the Thesaloniki derby which unfortunately sees them move further ahead.

As some of you may have noticed already, we were recently docked 3 points for some fan incidents during the AEK – Olympiakos match. AEK’s appeal was rejected however the team is now taking the case to the CAS court with hopes of the punishment being deemed inappropriate. Olympiakos fans were also involved in some incidents following their loss to OFI today, so it will be interesting to the see how the League handles that, and whether they give them the same punishment as they did to us ( 3 point deduction and two games with no supporters). Many eyebrows will be raised if Olympiakos somehow manage to come away without any form of punishment similar to what we received.

 

AEK 1-1 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2018 by alexaek

While last season was one of our best on record when it came to derbies, this season is shaping out to be anything but…

To be honest, I didn’t have the highest hopes as the game started. We always have a good shot against Olympiakos, particularly when playing at home, but having both Mantalos and Ponce out of the lineup was always going to be a huge blow to us. Surprisingly though, we quite easily controlled the pace of the match for almost the entire first half. In fact, it was safe to say that Olympiakos didn’t really look like threatening at all until the 44th minute when they hit the post.

Despite controlling the pace and possession for most of the first half, we struggled to make anything come of it. We did hit the post once ourselves but the team seemed lost in the final third of the pitch. It didn’t help that not only was Mantalos missing, but Simoes was having a particularly bad game. Usually we see Simoes all over the pitch, getting involved any chance he could, but he was nowhere to be seen on Sunday. Bakasetas tried to get some offense going, but Livaja and Klonaridis weren’t doing much to help out. Funny enough was the fact that Hult was probably our most dangerous player going forward aside from Bakasetas.

As I could almost anticipate, Olympiakos made us pay for our lack of scoring in the first half when Fourtounis managed to put one in the back of the net out of Barkas’ reach. With Olympiakos up 1-0 from early in the second half, the game looked more and more like a lost cause as time wore on until Bakasetas was able to sneak one in for us in the dying minutes of the game, leveling the score at 1-1 and salvaging a valuable point.  With seconds left in the game, Olympiakos had the easiest of chances to make it 2-1 in their favour when Fetfatzidis failed to put away a shot from point blank range.

All in all it was a disappointing outing for us, especially considering we had more than enough time to put ourselves ahead earlier in the match. Realistically there wasn’t much Ouzounidis could do from the bench considering key players like Simoes, Klonaridis, and Livaja simply weren’t having the best of games. The league isn’t a lost cause yet (far from it really) but a win would have put us just one point off of first place. As it stands, we’re currently tied for 3rd with Olympiakos, level on 13 points.

CL Group Stage Bound! (AEK 1-1 MOL Vidi)

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Draw, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2018 by alexaek

Twelve years since our last appearance in the Champions League group stages and we are finally heading back! It might not have been pretty but ultimately the team managed to accomplish what they set out to accomplish so far.

By most accounts it actually wasn’t a great game on our part. We managed to find our way ahead thanks to a well taken Mantalos penalty shot but Vidi managed to equalize not too long after and for much of the remainder of the game, we were left wondering if Vidi might even find a way to force the game to extra time. Without a strong performance from Barkas, Vidi could have definitely found the back of the net yet again.

Luckily though, we managed to hold onto the draw in front of nearly 40,000 rain drenched supporters. Unfortunately however, we didn’t escape unscathed. Not only did we lose Lopez towards the end of the match with a red card, but Livaja also received a red card after the final whistle had blown. Of course, this means we’ll be without two key players for the next match at least although it looks like there might even be the chance of Livaja receiving a further one or two game ban. This would be, to say the least, a huge blow for us considering how huge a role he has played for us in terms of offense. I guess the one bright side is that it might give one of our recent singings a big opportunity but its definitely not a great situation to find ourselves in.

Regardless, we’ve done it. For the next few months at least we will be watching AEK play against some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The draw for the Group Stage will take place this coming thursday and as expected, we might be drawn against some big names. Looking at the list of possible opponents, its hard to really find one that I would prefer to play against over another. Of course there are the typical favourites but every possible opponent could be a huge challenge. The total list of possible teams in our group is as follows.

First pot: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Juventus, PSG, Manchester City, Lokomotiv Moscow

Second pot: Dortmund, Porto, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Napoli, Tottenham, Roma

Third pot: Liverpool, Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Salzburg, Ajax, CSKA Moscow, Eindhoven

As you can see, from the first pot all the way to the third, theres nothing but tough opposition. I honestly can’t even chose a single team out of that list that I would consider an “easier” opponent aside from possibly Lokomotiv or Salzburg but even those two sides will be extremely tough to play against. Regardless, it will still be great fun in either case and considering our strong form in Europe lately, I see no reason to not be up for the challenge.

AEK 2-0 PAS Giannena

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League with tags , , , on August 25, 2018 by alexaek

Goals from Livaja and Ponce ensured that AEK got off to the best start possible for this season’s Championship campaign. Had luck been on our side, the score could easily have been higher for us especially considering a fairly clear penalty wasn’t called in our favour. In either case, it was a solid outing from the team and the expected three points were exactly what we needed to ensure our run of good form continues.

Livaja had a noteworthy day today after not only scoring the second goal, but doing well to set up the first one. Ponce also looked particularly promising, scoring the opener but also finding himself involved in a number of other chances. If Ponce and Livaja continue to link up well as we saw today, we might see the start of a great attacking pairing. Memories of the Livaja-Araujo attacking duo? I’m definitely seeing it so far.

Defensively the game went as expected. PAS made their way forward from time to time but never really managed to look particularly threatening. Overall there was very little to complain about with the team but its safe to say the first true test of the league will come next week when we head south to Tripolis. Of course before that we face Vidi for the second leg of our Champions League qualifying tie early next week. We can’t take anything for granted, but I see no reason for our run of form to end against the Hungarian side and if all goes to plan, we’ll be celebrating our return to the Champions League group stages by next Tuesday evening!

AEK 2-1 Celtic (3-2 Aggregate)

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League with tags , , , , , on August 14, 2018 by alexaek

Well there we have it, after two close encounters AEK are through to the playoff round of the Champions League qualifiers. It wasn’t always easy as Celtic definitely tried to create something offensively but we managed to hold on when it mattered most to come out with the win.

It was the perfect start for AEK, going up 1-0 following a rather straight forward finish from Galo. Just as last week in Glasgow, the Celtic defenders offered us way too much space in their own box and Galo didn’t hesitate to take advantage after latching onto Hult’s ball in.

Celtic’s defending then let them down again when they failed to handle a set play from AEK just five minutes into the second half. Galo was involved again, sending the ball into the box which Lambropoulos managed to head towards an open Livaja who managed to ease the ball into the back of the net. 2-0 for AEK at this point and the match was almost all but settled.

Some tense moments did follow though as Celtic managed to pull one back. At this point one more goal for them would have put them ahead on Aggregate and through to the next round but just as in Glasgow last week, the team managed to soak up the pressure while failing to succumb to multiple Celtic attacks.

It was yet another huge night and a sign that things might be going our way again this season, even if its still early. One nice fact to take away from the game is that our unbeaten streak in Europe continues for at least another two games following our good run in the Europa League last year.

Of course, the work isn’t all done yet. We still have to get past Hungarian side before we can cement our place in the Group stages. Needless to say, our confidence will be high heading into the encounter with Vidi and we will most likely head into the two matches as favourites to progress.

It was a good night for Greek football overall as PAOK also progressed through to the playoff round. Unfortunately their path to the group stages will be considerably tougher as they will have to overcome Benfica to make it through, but that doesn’t mean its impossible. I can’t confirm if a date and time for our first match against Vidi has been confirmed but I believe it will most likely take place next week, on the 21st of August.

I know its still early, but I’m starting to get excited at the prospect of seeing AEK in the Champions League group stages again. Hopefully more nights like these are to come:

A Busy Spring So Far

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Friendlies, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by alexaek

Usually at this point, things are relatively quiet. Players are still on vacation, trade rumours are starting to pick up steam but not really amounting to anything, and more often than not we’re just left with the typical sports tabloid gossip.

Things have different this spring. In fact, it seems like every three or four days, another piece of news seems to surface which drastically affects the outlook for next season. I’ll try to recap the main highlights of the off-season so far, in order of significance:

  • The first piece of news worth mentioning happens to also be the most recent. Just a few days ago, Jimenez was supposedly given an ultimatum: accept AEK’s offer within 48 hours or the offer would no longer be valid. The 48 hours passed and it seemed like Jimenez was still no closer to signing with us. Instead, things started to change when he began suggesting that he was hoping to return to Spain rather than continue with AEK. This became evident when I woke up to the news that not only had Jimenez not accepted our offer, but we acted quickly to secure Marinos Ouzounidis for next season. It was kind of a shock, and a move that came out of nowhere for me, but I’m kind of happy about it. Afterall, Jimenez had already given us a Cup and a Championship after his two stints with the team, and he also brought us on a decent run in Europe. Realistically he gave us all he could and while I’m grateful for how he turned the team around, I think its fair that he was looking for a new challenge in Spain. On the other hand, Ouzounidis is an experienced coach in Greece, someone who seems down to earth and prefers to stay out of the spotlight, and a coach who in all fairness did pretty well to keep PAO afloat despite all the challenges they faced these past two seasons. I think if he continues to receive the backing that Jimenez received, he could do very well for us.
  • Lazaros ditched us and signed for Oly. This one also came as a shock to me though in hindsight, I guess it shouldn’t have since it sounds like hes left teams on bad terms in the past as well. The move didn’t make sense to me from his perspective: he had just finished possibly the best season of his career, with a championship winning team, and destined to play Champions League qualifiers next season with a chance at even making the group stages. Instead, he leaves that behind and goes to a team that can play Europa League at best and has a management group that is as volatile as ever. I guess the money was too good to say no to as far as he was concerned, but it makes you realize that loyalty just isn’t a concept that exists to certain players, especially when you become the first player in history to play for PAOK, PAO, AEK, and now Oly… He gave us some great moments, especially this season, but I would love to see the look on his face if AEK manages to finish higher than Oly yet again.
  • While those last two pieces of news were quite shocking, this one wasn’t quite as much. It was, however, a great move on our part: AEK agreed to pay the buyout clause for Livaja, set at 1.8 million Euros. Its not what I would call cheap, but I would call it a bargain considering how reliable he was for us this season. I can’t remember if a deal has been put in place between Livaja and the club but either way, its great to know that he is ours now, and theres no risk of him being snatched back by Las Palmas.
  • Araujo, on the other hand, has been all but confirmed to be going back to Las Palmas. This doesn’t surprise me really, as I was surprised we even managed to get him back on loan last season. He had a great season as well and definitely showed that he deserves a chance to feature more prominently with the Spanish side.
  • Despite Notingham Forest being interested in promising Greek striker Christos Albanis, AEK were able to secure him before anyone else could. To be honest, I’m not too familiar with him yet, but from what I’ve been reading it sounds like he should be quite the prospect for us. I guess we’ll start to see in the friendlies which should be taking place in about a month or so.

I think that pretty much covers the majority of what has been going on so far this offseason, but please do let me know in the comments section if I forgot anything!

PS: I’m wishing nothing but a speedy recovery for Salah! As someone who doesn’t have a country to cheer for at the World Cup this summer for the first time in my lifetime, I was really hoping to see Salah have a good run in the tournament. Huge shame what happened to him today against Madrid, but hopefully he makes it back in time. Hes proven himself to be a class act all season long and definitely doesn’t deserve to be on the sidelines after the season he has had so far.