Archive for MANOLO JIMENEZ

Champions Again, 24 Years Later!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , , on April 22, 2018 by alexaek

I know, I know, its not official yet as we’re still (!) waiting on the court case regarding the PAOK-AEK match in Toumba. But, its hart to not feel like we’re champions following the scenes that were a result of our 2-0 victory over Levadeiakos.

In front of 70,000 cheering and chanting supporters, we practically sealed our 12th Championship in history, and our first since the 1993-1994 season. Bakasetas was the hero today as he scored both goals, including one from the penalty spot. The highlight of the game though is when Mantalos made his way onto the pitch, 172 days since he last played a match for AEK after recovering from a serious knee injury.

Its amazing to think we’ve finally achieved this considering where we were playing not that long ago. As Tzanetopoulos said, the team has been dreaming about this moment from when they were playing in the 3rd division and it has finally happened!

Theres a lot that can be said about what happened today in Athens, but I’ll let some video footage do the talking.

I was relieved to see that the supporters in the stands didn’t cause any trouble during and after the match. I was sure that just a few flares or a few fans storming the pitch afterwards would have had some teams demanding some kind of punishment for AEK.

Instead of causing any trouble in the stadiums, our supporters left the more “rambunctious” celebrations for the streets of Nea Filadelfia.

The celebrations inside the locker room meanwhile were equally enthusiastic:

Theres not much that can be said really after a day like this. All I can say is that this team deserves credit. The players, the staff, Jimenez, Melissanidis, everyone has done an incredible job to get this far. We’ve all but won the league, we’re in the Cup Final, we were undefeated in the Europa League, its hard to remember a better time to be an AEK supporter in recent memory. Lets just hope the court case goes favorably for us so that we can well and truly host a fiesta like we did back in Nea Filadelfia!

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AEKARA!! (Olympiakos 1-2 AEK)

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2018 by alexaek

Greek derbies… you gotta love them! You never know what can happen and with the way AEK has played this season, expecting anything but the unexpected is just foolish.

So when AEK were down 1-0 in Karaiskaki, with under ten minutes to go, all one had to do was remember our 3-2 come from behind win earlier this season to get some hope that the same thing could happen again. Sure enough, as we had already seen from our previous league encounter with Olympiakos, this AEK team won’t give up when it matters most. With league standings on the line and a huge psychological advantage over our Cup opponents up for grabs, AEK had everything to play for and they did just that.

Jimenez’s timing with his substitution of Giakoumakis for Bakasetas proved to be a stroke of genius as the Cretan played a role in our first goal (which was ultimately scored by Chygrinskiy) and scored the game winner with his first Superleague goal for AEK. If he was looking for his chance to make an impression, he certainly took advantage of it today.

The team in general handled the game pretty well. Tsintotas was brilliant overall in nets, making some big saves to keep us in the game. To be fair to him there was nothing he could do on the goal we conceded.

Our defense was decent overall, but their sloppiness at times almost cost us. Overall though they did what they had to and for the most part limited Olympiakos’ chances of scoring. In fact prior to their goal, they hadn’t even had a genuine chance at scoring for the first 30 minutes of the 2nd half.

Our midfield was pretty good overall too. It took a little while but once the game settled in, they were able to take control for much of the game. One thing I would have liked to have seen more was moving the ball forward. We tended to hold on to it without actively looking for space up ahead, but in an away derby against Olympiakos, it makes sense that we wouldn’t want to risk too much. It was a physical game with over 50 fouls committed by the two sides so our midfielders had to grind out much of the game. It didn’t help that the ref was letting so much slide resulting in a constant barrage of dangerous tackles.

Offensively we were pretty effective. We might not have created many chances for ourselves, but the ones we did create often resulted in great chances. One such chance came from a Masoud header that was just cleared off the line by Olympiakos defender Cisse.

Its hard to describe just how good a result like this feels. Derby wins are always so special on a number of different levels, but this one might just be one of the best ones recently. Not only did we beat them in their own home, with a last minute game winner, but we now leap frog them into 2nd place. The top 3 in the league is now PAOK with 46 points, AEK with 44, and Olympiakos with 42. A loss, or even a draw, would have almost put 1st place out of reach but now we’re one win away from being top again. We should also keep in mind that we only have two derbies left while PAOK still have three, including a game against us which we could easily win.

One of my favourite parts about winning a derby is that its not just the win itself, but what comes after it for us supporters. Needless to say, the celebrations in Athens were pretty crazy. The reception the team got at their hotel was pretty crazy, and its making me wonder what the scenes will be like if we manage to win the league this year.

The scenes inside Karaiskaki meanwhile were far less celebratory. Rioting quickly ensued after the game and from what I’ve heard it wasn’t pretty. Begs the question, will Olympiakos be punished? A game or two without fans is the least they should face, with a point deduction being totally possible here as well. Will it happen? I won’t hold my breath.

Oh I forgot to mention that on its approach to the stadium, AEK’s bus had a window smashed with a rock. Classic Greek scenes… oh well, I’m sure the Olympiakos fan who threw the rock feels great about his team now. Meanwhile a broken bus window is the last thing on our minds right now 🙂

AEK 0-1 Atromitos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos with tags , , , on October 23, 2017 by alexaek

After managing a rather respectful result in Milan last week, we got this week started off with an embarrassing result in Athens. A win today would have put us back in 1st but instead we find ourselves in 3rd with 3 other teams even on points.

It was a game we should have won on paper and judging from the stats, we really should have found a way to put at least one goal in the back of the net. 65% possession for AEK and 17 chances, 11 of which were on target? I don’t care how good Atromitos might have defended, theres no reason for AEK to not be able to score a single goal on Atromitos with 11 chances on net.

Its frustrating because we’ve seen this story with AEK before. Earlier this season we had the chance to go 1st but instead put in a disappointing performance to lose to Tripolis. Even during the 2007-2008 season we had the chance to seal 1st place and the championship but we lost games we really should have won and gave up points that we couldn’t afford to lose. We need to do something to make sure we can get this season back on track, even if that means making some more singings over winter. The simple fact is that the league is just too close this year to be able to risk anything or take any chances. How close? Two points separate 1st place and 6th place. There is absolutely no wiggle room and any points dropped at this stage are extremely costly.

All in all a disappointing result but to be honest, I was kind of expecting something like this to happen. We have a big chance to make a bit of an impact on the standings when we face Panionios this weekend and PAOK next weekend, but on the flip side those are two games which could see us slip further behind in the standings. The trouble is that we aren’t playing terribly in the sense that we’re creating chances. Just watching the highlights from today’s game shows just that. Our finishing is clearly whats hurting us though. Today’s game could have easily resulted in a win had we been a little more accurate which is frustrating to say the least, knowing that we were so close. A lot of it comes down to our attackers under performing, especially Araujo. We signed him with the expectation that he would finish most of the chances hes been having but hes been pretty disappointing on a number of occasions.

Oh well, nothing we can do about this one other than hopefully learn from our mistakes. I’m sure Jimenez will have the team working on their finishing because clearly we need to start seeing some improvement. 1 goal in our last 3 league games is simply not good enough if we realistically expect to challenge for the title.

AEK Set To Face CSKA

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Jerseys with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2017 by alexaek

The day many of us have been awaiting patiently (more likely rather impatiently) has finally arrived. In less than 24 hours from the publishing of this post, AEK will have finally played a Champions League game, the first in essentially a decade.

Our opponent for this 3rd qualifying round match is the Moscow based club CSKA. Most sources are understandably listing CSKA as the favourites, not least because their season has already been underway. AEK, on the other hand, have yet to play a competitive match with many of our new singings but that doesn’t worry me all that much. We’re expected to have a good crowd supporting the team in OAKA as ticket sales have been pretty steady over the past week and the team will definitely have enough motivation to put in a good performance. In fact I’ve just read that 15,000 tickets have been sold, plus the approximately 7,000 season tickets. That puts us at a crowd of around 21,000 though that will surely increase more throughout the day tomorrow.

AEK365 is reporting that Anestis will get the start in nets after Barkas sustained a rather serious injury that could see him sidelined for up to three months. In front of Anestis we can expect to see Bakakis, Chygrynskiy, Vranjes, and Lopes. Simoes will likely be paired with either Johansson or Galanopoulos with Livaja a little further up the pitch. Completing our attack will be Mantalos and Lazaros with Klonaridis expected to be up front if he is match fit.

Its not a bad lineup with some pretty good Greek representation. Its reassuring to see that Jimenez isn’t afraid to play Greeks when they deserve the spot since those are more often than not the players that the club will be built around.

Tomorrow’s match will take place at 8:30 PM Athens time which is 1:30 PM New York time or 3:30 AM Sydney time (on the 26th of July). I can’t really say what to expect from CSKA as I’m not at all familiar with the club, but they did just come off a 3-1 loss in the league against Lokomotiv Moscow. Having said that, they’re still undoubtedly a strong side but a positive result for AEK in Athens is more than possible. Its supposed to be a warm afternoon in Athens with a high of 32°C which could play in our favour as Moscow seems to be averaging mid to high 20s around this time of year. 

I’m not certain which kits we’ll be wearing but they’ll definitely be different than last season’s kits as new kits were released earlier in July. The First kit is similar to last year’s striped one, but with a slightly different style. Its not radically different but I still quite like it:

Its also possible we could wear our Third kit, one which I must say is quite gorgeous. I’m not convinced that it works as a jersey really simply because the details get lost when watching in the stands or on TV and it ends up looking like a plain black training kit. As something that I would want to purchase and wear myself though, it is stunning. Maybe a little more yellow around the edge of the Dikefalo would have helped make everything stand out a little more though:

Its an exciting day tomorrow and while I’m disappointed that I’ll have to be at work, I’ll definitely try to follow it as much as possible. Fingers crossed one of the Greek TV channels I have on TV will also be showing it so I can watch it after work. Either way theres a lot to look forward to and if we can come away with a positive result tomorrow, anything will be possible. Forza AEKara!

Transfers So Far

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Champions League, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2017 by alexaek

With the team having recently arrived in Poland for pre-season training, there have already been moves taken with the hopes of strengthening the squad for our return to the Champions League.

In my opinion the biggest move we’ve made so far was the re-singing of Jimenez. There was some uncertainty about a month or so ago regarding whether we’d hold onto Jimenez for at least another season but the team has cleared that up after a new deal was agreed. As far as I’m concerned this is exactly what we could have hoped for. We saw how quickly he managed to turn the team around last season after he re-joined us, I can only imagine what he could do with a full pre-season as well. It has been far too long since we had a serious and experienced coach for a pre-season so having him here from the start will really see us start in the right direction if we hope to progress at all in the Champions League.

As far as players are concerned, we have made a few singings so far with the first notable singing being that of Helder Lopes. The Portuguese left-back joins us from Las Palmas, the same Las Palmas which currently owns the rights to Sergio Araujo. Haven’t personally seen much of him so I can’t really comment on what he brings to the team, but we’ve had pretty decent luck lately with Portuguese players like Barbosa and Simoes so I can only hope that trend continues with Lopes.

 

We’ve also officially completed the deal to bring over Giakoumakis from Cretan club Platanias. A deal had already been agreed with the players last season but the deal was only able to be finalized this pre-season.  Hes a very promising player who is coming off a couple strong seasons with Platanias. Considering Aravidis was released from the club not too long ago, its a nice to see us strengthen our attack with another promising young Greek.

 

Arguably the biggest singing for the club this season so far though has been the re-signing of Klonaridis. Klonaridis, who became the first player to go from AEK, to PAO, and back to AEK, was picked up for a bargain of a price at a reported 800,000 Euros. Not bad for a player who has already proven himself in this league. Don’t get me wrong, hes not the greatest Greek to wear our jersey by any means, but especially for the price, hes a great addition to the club. He genuinely seems pretty excited to be back at AEK to which I like to see and I have a feeling he could play a big part in any success we have this season.

In addition to our recent singings, we’ve seen a few players released with the most recent being Vargas and Kolovetsios. Its unfortunate to see them both leave as they both brought a lot to the club. Kolovetsios had been with us for a few years by now and had been a great member of the club, causing very few issues along the way. He was always ready to be called upon when needed and though we have solidified our depth in the centre-back position, its too bad we couldn’t find a place for him in the team. Having said that, it was pretty clear his playing time would be limited this season and he still has many years ahead of him so from his point of view this was the right thing to do. On the right club, he could easily become a key player.

Vargas was also an unfortunate loss for us. I’m not sure why exactly his playing time dropped so much under Jimenez, if it was simply a matter of him not fitting the system or if there was something else behind the scenes, I couldn’t say. What I can say though is that I’ll never forget the many moments these past two seasons where he came up big when we needed it. Afterall, how can we forget the player who scored the game winner in our home derbies against PAO, PAOK, and Olympiakos all in one season.

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.

 

Atromitos 0-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Greek Football with tags , , , , on March 20, 2017 by alexaek

The Jimenez run continues, extending our undefeated run to 13 games since we swapped coaches. Maybe not with the emphatic scoreline we would have hoped for, but considering the last time we beat Atromitos in Peristeri was 2009, I’ll gladly take the three points however they come. The game winner came courtesy of Mantalos in the 57th minute, though we also had a goal wrongly disallowed for offsides while Araujo hit the post with another fantastic effort.

To give our recent form some context, its worth keeping in mind that Olympiakos have now lost four of their last five games after their 1-0 loss to PAO yesterday. Our recent form has, aside from being impressive in its own right, also helped secure our spot in the playoff race. The season is far from over but considering earlier in the year I wasn’t even sure we’d get back into fifth, I’d say we’re starting to look a little more comfortable. With the way we’ve been playing, I’d say theres no reason for us not to stay 5th at least. On top of that, we have a great chance to slip into 4th with a win over PAO in our upcoming match.

Something else worth noting is that the draw for the Cup semi-finals is due to take place tomorrow after last week’s draw was called off because of a bomb threat. I’m excited since we’re pretty much guaranteed a good game. For the first time in 68 years, AEK, PAO, Olympiakos, and PAOK are the final four teams so I think its safe to say we might see one of the more interesting Cup finals that we’ve seen for the past few years.