Archive for Mantalos

Olympiakos 1-2 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2017 by alexaek

On AEK’s 93rd birthday, we were treated to an incredibly important win, one which sees us put a foot into the Cup Finals. As Jimenez said today, the future of this team is bright and what we’ve seen up to and including our victory in Karaiskaki, I see no reason at all for us not to go ahead and win the Cup for a second straight season.

Now I don’t want to get too carried away since nothing in football is certain, especially considering despite the fact that we came away with a win, Olympiakos were still very much in the game. In fact both teams had a few good chances to increase the score throughout the match so we definitely cannot discount Olympiakos at this point. Having said that, with two critical away goals and the next game in an OAKA which I feel will be very close to sold out, I’m pretty confident that we’ll be playing in the final in less than a month’s time. Its also worth keeping in mind that our form against Olympiakos has been surprisingly good with AEK winning four of the last five matches between the two sides.

As I said, Olympiakos did have a couple chances so I won’t sugarcoat our performance and say it was flawless since it clearly wasn’t. We were great going forward, but we did allow a little to much space at times in the back. Overall though, what I really noticed with AEK today was that this was the most confident performance I’ve seen from our team in Karaiskaki since our last 2-1 victory there. Previous matches we’ve played in Piraeus seemed shaky, uncomfortable, and as if we just generally didn’t have a plan. In the past, at least for the last three or so seasons, we tended to play in a way that resulted in us sitting back and hoping for a couple counter attacks. Today, however, was a different story. We played with total control for much of the game, a clear game plan, and a team that didn’t seem to be affected at all by nerves. It was definitely a breath of fresh air and one of the clearest signs yet that Jimenez knows what hes doing with the club.

There was the usual shenanigans that follow an Olympiakos loss, with players and management alike criticizing the officiating. Truth be told, I genuinely don’t even know what they were complaining about today as every handball/penalty they called for were, in realities, clean plays. I guess they need to blame someone though? Although if anyone should complain it would be AEK in this case as Seba should have received a straight yellow for his deliberate trip of Araujo (see video below).

Araujo was, as is pretty much expected at this point, our standout player. Considering the technique and vision he possesses, I really don’t see a way we can keep him past the summer. I would love nothing more than to see that happen, but theres no way Las Palmas aren’t noticing the amazing performances hes been consistently been putting in and while I wish we could offer whatever they would ask for him, I just don’t see any way we could possibly afford his price tag.

Mantalos also put in a great performance and I thought the way he and Araujo linked up on the first goal was just brilliant. Also worth noting was the fact that both Vranjes and Chyrinskiy were in the starting lineup today and while I found our defense to be a little porous at times, they both had great games.

For those who wish to mark it in their calendars, the second leg will take place on the 26th of April. Its still early to say but the crowd will definitely be a sizable one, if not a sell out.

Highlights:

 

The Seba trip:

 

One of the “penalties” Olympiakos called for (I don’t see it either):

 

Another “penalty” they were calling for (maybe if they would just focus on playing the game they wouldn’t be so embarassed in front of their own supporters):

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.

AEK 3-0 Platanias

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Champions League, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2017 by alexaek

With relative ease we’ve booked our place in the semi-finals of the Cup. Can we go all the way from this point on? I see absolutely no reason why we can’t with the form we’re seeing at the moment.

Going into the game I was very slightly worried, if only for the fact that the 0-0 draw in the previous game in Crete left us little breathing room if we failed to score early. Platanias afterall only stand one point behind us in the league and have proven time and time again that they can get results against bigger clubs.

Any fears I might have had though we’re quickly put to rest after we got off to a pretty good start, with Lazaros scoring the penalty that resulted from Mantalos being taken down in the box by Platanias’ Yaya Banana. That same play also resulted in a red card for Platanias which certainly only made things easier from that point on.

Oh, and speaking of penalties and red cards, the olympiakos press has been going on all night about how we got “helped” by the refs through the calls… Regardless of whether the penalty was the right call or not, the fact that their press has been going on about this, from a game they weren’t even involved in, is something else. Maybe they’re using it to get their supporters more fired up in case they play us once again in the Cup? Can’t say I mind, it would make any meetings between us in the Cup that much more enjoyable. I still find it incredible that supporters of that team can have the nerve to complain about another team receiving a call like that from a ref…

Back to our game though: I think its safe to say that after the first goal and the red card for Platanias, pretty much anyone following the game would think that the win was pretty much guaranteed for AEK at that point. Rightfully so too, as we continued to score with goals from Araujo (his third in the cup so far) and a beautifully taken finish by Johansson.

Its also safe to say that with a little more luck, the score could have easily ended around 5-0 as we hit the post and had a number of excellent chances missed throughout the game. Regardless, its the win that counts, an important win that books us a place in the semi-finals of a Cup which I genuinely believe our players want to win. It helps too having a coach who has won this cup before and knows how good it would feel to raise it again.

Its obviously too early to tell who we’ll face in the next round but Panathinaikos will definitely be there. I’m pretty confident PAOK will make it to the next round too, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the Atromitos-Olympiakos game. Its very possible we could end up seeing Atromitos joining us in the semi-finals considering Olympiakos’ recent form in Greece.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news today as Chyrgrynskiy had to be subbed off after just a few minutes into the game for what seemed like an arm injury. I’m not sure how bad it is at this point but I hope it doesn’t keep him out for too long.

 

As great as our football team has been lately, our basketball team also deserves some credit after not only beating PAOK over the weekend, but also beating Monaco yesterday in the Champions League round of 16. It was only a one point win, but its definitely a promising result going into the return leg in France. Its also promising to keep in mind that there will be at least 500 AEK supporters present in the rather small arena in Monaco, not to mention the number of Marseille supporters who will also make the trip to support AEK.

AEK 1-0 Olympiakos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football, Jimenez with tags , , , on February 20, 2017 by alexaek

A promising start with Manolo has gotten even better after we beat Olympiakos at OAKA for the third time in a row. Not only was yesterday’s result a satisfying one because we beat a team that has proven itself to be run by hypocritical sore losers, but it also put us back in playoff spots after months outside of the top 5.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly worried before the start of the game. I mean, you can never know how a derby will turn out but I felt like there was no reason we couldn’t come away with a good result. We’ve shown the past two times we played them in OAKA that on any day Olympiakos are a very beatable team, especially when the officiating isn’t skewed in their favour.

Aside from a few brief spells in the first half, AEK were visibly the team that wanted the result more. I read before the game that Manolo had focused on getting the team to play a high pressure game, with a focus on giving Olympiakos as little space as possible, and it seemed clear to me that the players got the message. The pressure from the team was relentless and on a number of occasions we were able to easily regain possession after Olympiakos players were caught standing like pylons.

Aside from being the team that showed more pressure and drive, we were also the far more organized team along with being the team that was ready to risk a bit in order to get some attacks started. Mantalos and Araujo were especially dangerous going forward with but overall we seemed eager to get bodies in the box. With a bit more luck we could have come away with a couple more goals too.

Our defense was pretty solid too with Lambropoulos having the game of his life. His positioning was perfect and the commentators commented that he had a very “smart” game overall, making challenges when it was the right time to do so, but holding back when it was appropriate too. It was great to see considering he hasn’t always had the best of luck in previous derbies.

We still have a lot of work to do, but yesterday’s win is the perfect way to lead us into the playoffs. With the way we played yesterday, and perhaps a bit more discipline in front of net, I expect us to into our remaining derbies with Panathinaikos and PAOK confident that we’ll get three points from each of those games, as we ended up doing last season. We have some other tough games coming up as well including against Platanias and Panionios, so we’ll need to be in the best form we can possibly be in as there is still a very real chance that we can drop some points and risk our spot in the playoffs. But with yesterday’s result, we’ve proven that we should be able to get close to the maximum possible points from our nine remaining games.

The atmosphere was, as it always is during these derbies, fantastic. We even received compliments from the refs who, aside from a few notes about flares, mentioned no troubling incidents. A few Olympiakos officials though (most notably a typically whiny Savvas Theodoridis) of course had plenty of complaints about the officiating, claiming that it was a disgrace for Greek football. There are a number of videos on YouTube showing previous favourable calls that Olympiakos has received in past derbies, but I guess he instead choses to turn a blind eye towards those and instead focus on yesterday’s game.

What he was complaining about I’m not entirely sure. The red card for Botias was entirely reasonable, and I noticed very few questionable calls from the officials for either side, apart from one instance when the linesman allowed Araujo to continue a run which was offside. Anyone without red tinted glasses would have noticed that Olympiakos simply weren’t good enough yesterday, but I guess its easier to criticize a few officials than it is to get your team to play the way they need to.

Anyways, enough commenting on them. There’s been enough of that going on in Greece today…

Highlights:

Behind the scenes:

And the goals just keep coming..

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Football, Jimenez with tags , , , , , , , on February 5, 2017 by alexaek

AEK 6-0 Veria

Just a few days after beating Levadeiakos 6-0 in the Cup, our attacking form carried over to our league game today against Veria. Thats right, two 6-0 games in a row, bringing our total goals scored to 15 after the first five games for Jimenez. Not only that, but we’ve managed to not concede a single goal since he took over, an impressive feat considering we were conceding a little too easily prior to his time with the team.

Aside from the game against Tripolis, we’ve faced pretty weak opposition since hes been in charge. Regardless, the change is evident and whether we’re able to compete consistently with the teams above us remains to be seen doesn’t take away from the fact that the team has seemed to have found confidence and understanding on the pitch that simply wasn’t there before.

Today’s lineup featured some changes from the lineup against Levadeiakos but it seemed to work just as well. Notably, Bakasetas wasn’t in the starting lineup today as our attacking midfield instead consisted of Mantalos, Araujo, and Christodolopoulos. Also of note was the fact that Pekhart was the striker with Araujo instead playing a support role today. From what I was hearing on the radio, it seemed to work quite well, even though surprisingly enough, both Pekhart and Araujo did not end up on the scoring sheet.

The MVP of the match was, without much surprise, Christodolopoulos. He opened the scoring with a fantastic finish and finished the match up with the final goal just before the whistle. Our other scorers were Lambropoulos and Mantalos, while Veria also scored an own goal.

Overall it sounded like the entire team played well today. Veria might not have pressured us very much at all throughout the game but it didn’t sound like we had a weak link out there, something which I’m not used to seeing with this team so far this season.

I’ve posted a YouTube video of the highlights below but seeing as the quality is quite awful, you can also see higher quality highlights on the NovaSports site: http://aek365.novasports.gr

 

EDIT: I completely forgot to mention the goal by Vranjes. He has been pretty solid for us and as others have commented online, our defense when he is finally paired with Chyrgrynski will be pretty impressive.

AEK 2-0 Asteras Tripolis

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by alexaek

Good start for Jimenez

As I mentioned in my last post, rumours were floating around saying that Manolo Jimenez was on his way to Athens for his second stint in charge of AEK. The next day, those rumours turned out to be true as Jimenez signed a contract which will keep him with the team until at least the end of the season.

Thankfully for both Jimenez himself as well as the team, the Spaniard’s first game in charge ended with a comfortable 2-0 win over a team that has given us a hard time these past couple seasons. Goals from both Pekhart and Mantalos (both now have five goals this season) were enough to seal the win though by all accounts it sounds like it was a solid team effort all around. Even players like Simoes and Johansson, players who have been having mediocre seasons compared to what we’ve come to expect of them, turned up and played a phenomenal game. In fact, Johansson ended up with the MVP award for the game, something which I pretty much felt he deserved every game last season compared to the current season.

I’m not sure if its just because of the change, or if Jimenez has already managed to bring some positive change to the team. I feel like theres definitely something about Jimenez that can really give the club a boost for the rest of the season: hes passionate, he knows the team, and he has some solid experience. On top of that, I feel like he would be a much more motivating figure in the dressing room than someone like Ketsbaia was.

Apologies in advance for the poor quality highlights, they were all I could find on YouTube from the game.

Comfortable win for basketball team as well

Our basketball team played earlier in the weekend against Apollonas Patras and came away from the game with a convincing 88-69 win. As has been the case for most of the season, the win means we still sit comfortably in third, one point behind PAO and two behind Olympiakos.

Well That Was Painful…

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2016 by alexaek

AEK 2-2 Atromitos

So far this season we have played four games at home for the league. These games were against respectable but seemingly beatable opposition: Xanthi, Iraklis, Panionios, and Atromitos. Aside from the first game, when we beat Xanthi 4-1, what do the last three home games have in common? They all ended in draws..

While a draw at home against a weaker team is never easy to swallow, today’s draw was really something else all together. I didn’t watch it (thankfully?), but the game got off to a phenomenal start with Mantalos scoring early. We played well from that point on and though Atromitos had some chances, it was finally looking as though the team was finding some confidence. We were rewarded for playing so well when Patito added a second for AEK with a beautifully placed shot that left the keeper with no chance.

At this point I was pretty happy. It sounded like we were playing well, we were so close to grabbing a crucial three points, and it started to look as though we might have just found some good form heading into our derby with PAO two weekends from now… Ah but this AEK were talking about after all. If this team has been consistent with one thing all season, its the fact that we so often find a way to make things more difficult for ourselves.

At around the 72nd minute I looked at my phone to check the score and I see that Atromitos had scored to make it 2-1. I wasn’t worried at this point, although I realize now that was a mistake. A few minutes later I check again expecting to see the same score, or even possibly 3-1 for AEK but instead I see 2-2. Surely I think to myself “we couldn’t possibly have let a 2-0 lead vanish at home?” but then I read AEK365’s description of the second goal and it all makes sense. Yep, another completely avoidable error by Anestis.

Coming into this season I had no problem with us keeping Anestis as our starting keeper. Sure he made some very costly errors the years before but he had finally started to show some maturity with his playing. I felt as though he might have been learning from his mistakes, improving his decision making, that sort of thing. Then Atromitos’ second goal today makes me have to question all of that. The goal he let in simply should not ever have happened. Not in a friendly, not in a Cup game where we were winning by a few goals, and certainly not in a league game where we have a fragile one goal lead and desperately need all the points we can get.

All in all I really don’t know what to feel about this game. Its a terrible result, but we did play quite well for 70 minutes. If Anestis never lets in that second goal and we finish the game with a 2-1 win, there would be a very different mood among the team and the supporters back in Greece. Instead, we now go into an extremely difficult derby with the fans doubting the team and perhaps the team doubting itself.

It has to be said that Anestis does not deserve all the blame (well, maybe he does). Afterall all the hype that surrounded Almeida after the first goal this season, what exactly has he done to contribute to the team this season? I want to see him succeed as much as anyone, but it sounded like he missed goals today that he really should not be missing. He is not a cheap player to keep on the team and I can’t help but feel as though perhaps there might be some young Greek talent out there that we could have on the team in his place at times. Experience helps, but it can only go so far when it isn’t actually contributing to results on the pitch.

Well, thats my “rant” for the day. It didn’t help that the hockey game I was at today saw the home team I was rooting for (the Ottawa 67s) go up 2-0 only to lose the game… 2-5. Thankfully the score for AEK’s game today didn’t quite end the same way, but seeing a 2-0 lead quickly diminish in front of my eyes while the same thing was happening with AEK in Athens was not exactly how I was hoping to spend my saturday…

Highlights, as usual, on the Novasports site (worth watching for Patito’s goal… and the Anestis blunder if you want something to make you chuckle). http://aek365.novasports.gr

At Least Our Basketball Team is Still Doing Well

What would I do if the basketball team was in the same shape our football club is. Its never easy being an AEK supporter, but its nice knowing that the basketball team can go into almost any match and expect to be competitive.

Today’s match, which ended in a 80-62 win over Rethymno was our fifth win from five games so far this season. It was another crucial win and one which puts us in first, for now at least, with 10 points. Next weekend is a huge one for us as take on PAOK up in Thessaloniki. It won’t be easy, but I’m confident we can, if anything, give PAOK a run for their money. A win in Thessaloniki would go a long way in confirming that we are on the right track.