Archive for PAO

A Return to Better Days

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by alexaek

If you’re reading this, you probably noticed that I never wrote anything about our 2-1 loss to PAOK in the Cup final. Really it came down to not wanting to write anything since that game was a disaster from before kickoff. It started with the terrible organization, with the game almost being cancelled since the seats didn’t have numbers on them. Then came the fighting between “supporters” within the stadium as well as outside of it. Of course we had the game itself, which was a disappointment on every level thanks to our awful performance and the offside game winner for PAOK.

Overall, not the kind of final I was hoping for. Certainly not the kind of final that will be remembered fondly throughout Greece by fans of the sport aside aside from the PAOK fans.

Thankfully, we were able to somewhat put all that behind us with not one great result, but two. It started with our basketball team managing, after nine years, to finally beat PAO. Even better, the win tied up our semi-final series with them at one game apiece. It was a tight game until the end, as many of our derbies have been this season, but a huge win regardless which gives us enormous momentum heading into the third game. The win only ties the series and we still have plenty of work to do, but to finally get past this hurtle and win a game against our cross town rivals shows that its definitely possible. Will it be enough to get us to the finals? Well I hate to say that PAO are still favourites but at this point nothing is guaranteed anymore.

The day only got better from that point on as we headed north to take on PAOK for the first round of the playoffs. We clearly came out seeking to make a statement after the loss to PAOK in the cup and for the majority of the first half we were easily the stronger team. As the commentator on the radio put it at one point, AEK seemed like the home team as we outplayed PAOK throughout the pitch. The breakthrough came early on as Didac, who had a great game along with most of our defense, latched on to a perfect ball from Mantalos and neatly tucked in the finish. His goal would prove to the deciding factor as neither side would find a way to score from then on, but there were certainly chances.

The game was a great way to put everything from the cup behind us as not only does it get us a huge three points away in Toumba, but it puts us first in the playoff table after Panionios and PAO tied earlier in the day (though Panionios were unfortunate not to come away with the win). Its still early but to already find ourselves in first after starting with fewer points than PAOK and PAO is the best outcome we could have hoped for after the first round of playoffs. Our next match is at home against Panionios, a game I feel like we should comfortably take, while PAO host PAOK in Athens. I could personally see that game going either way as PAO will be seeking to get some revenge of their own after being knocked out of the cup while PAOK will be looking to recover lost ground after losing, not to mention they’ll also be out to prove that they were legitimately the better team against PAO in the cup semi-finals.

 

AEK 3-1 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Playoffs with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2016 by alexaek

Huge win for the team today, a win that puts us back in with a shot of getting first in the playoffs. A loss today would have essentially ended all hope for us, but the win now means that if we win both of our upcoming matches, we finish top. I’m feeling pretty confident at this point and if it wasn’t for the fatigue really getting to the players, I would be certain that we could win both games. We play PAOK at home first and as we all know, our home form for the derbies has been pretty solid. The final game of the season is away against Panionios, a game which is never easy but I fancy our chances now given the fact that Panionios has been so poor during these playoffs.

So how did we win today? To be honest, a little bit of luck helped. PAO had two goals called back (though both were the right calls from what I’ve read… still looking for replays though) and they also got a straight red which was supposedly a bit controversial though I have yet to see the replay for that either. Aside from that though, we did everything we needed to get away with the win: taking advantage of set plays and counter attacks. For much of the game PAO controlled possesion but it sounded like they had a harder time breaking through today compared to when we played them on Monday. We were lucky that Leto didn’t get the start since his presence was noticed afterwards when he scored the only goal for PAO.

The two key players for us today in my opinion have got to be Mantalos and Barbosa. Mantalos directly set up our first and third goal while he was also the one to start the counter attack on our second goal. As for Barbosa, well its pretty obvious why I consider his impact on the game today to be so important. Two of today’s three goals were scored by him and both were finished so perfectly that they left Steele with no chance of making the save.

I haven’t really found any decent quality highlights on youtube but you can check out the goals at the following link: http://www.novasports.gr/match-center/match-center-agonas/match/1021/aek-panathinaikos/#.V0ewlTdrhD8 You’ll just need to go down to the live goals section down the page, and watch each goal individually. The third by Barbosa is especially worth taking a look at.

So where does today’s result leave us? Well PAOK are still first in the playoffs with 10 points, followed by AEK with 8 points and Panathinaikos with 7 (Panionios have only managed to pick up one point until now). Really, its still very open at the top with two games left to play so anything could happen.

AEK 1-0 PAOK

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Dellas, Derby, football, Greek Football, Keepers, PAOK, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2016 by alexaek

After three attempts this season we’ve finally managed to win a derby, and an important one too. It was a scrappy game, one where we certainly could have done a lot of things better, but the three points against PAOK could not have come at a better time.

The win puts us at 39 points, 4 points ahead of PAO and 6 ahead of PAOK. Considering both those teams have been shaky at best lately and we seem to have found some good form since the start of the year, we have now put ourselves in a great position to make sure we get the best start we can to the playoffs… assuming we can continue to get the results like we have been lately.

The game was our sixth win in a row for 2016 (including cup games) and while it has given us a lot to celebrate, including yet another game without conceeding and the first time this season that we managed to get a win against a team in the top five, it also showed we still have a lot to worry about. Normally I have a hard time narrowing down where exactly I should start when bringing up the negatives, but for yesterday’s game, the biggest concern was clear: Arzo.

I remember I wasn’t the only one who wondered why Dellas never really gave him much of a chance, but people were always suggesting that Dellas of all people would know whether a center back was good enough to play or not. While I admit Dellas may have not been perfect, it seems he was certainly right about Arzo: I wanted him to be given a chance, but yesterday’s game proved he just isn’t good enough. One website even sarcastically, though fairly accurately, said that he was PAOK’s best player. It seems as though he just can’t think fast enough when the pressure is on him, leading him to either take too long to make a decision or, when he does decide to act quick enough, leading to sloppy plays which more often than not result in lose balls which PAOK attackers were able to latch onto all too quickly. With some teams, his poor decision making is less apparent as the players are simply not good enough to latch onto the errors he makes. Against PAOK however, that simply wasn’t the case. Rodriguez, easily PAOK’s most dangerous player offensively, was quick and aggressive in attack and was able to pressure Arzo throughout the game forcing mistakes or sloppy clearances. Bottom line is as a center back, someone playing in a role where you need to be solid and sure of what you’re doing as the last line of defense, he simply was not anywhere near good enough yesterday. It does not help that all other center back options we have are relatively young and unexperienced.

We were also pretty sloppy in attack unfortunately, and it made for a rather dull game with few solid chances. Sure we managed to move the ball forward often enough, and we certainly showed enough attacking intent, but in the final third we couldn’t get anything to work. Chance after chance near or in the box was ruined due to a poor pass or a poor finish, something which I can’t help but feel must be related to a psychological issue that seems to be affecting the team as a whole. I’m hoping yesterday’s win will help with our derby performances in the upcoming games, but it still seems as though whenever we have a big game, our concentration and nerve take a big hit.

Simoes got the man of the match award, and he certainly deserved it. Time after time he came back and provided the much needed cover for our defenders, making some critical tackles and constantly covering our half of the pitch. Without him, I’m not convinced we would have come out of the game without conceding from PAOK’s attacking surge towards the last twenty minutes of the game. Anestis was also phenomenal and has proven yet again to Poyet and the fans that he deserves to be considered for the starting lineup, even when Baroja returns from injury. He was solid during one on one situations, handled the far shots well and, most importantly, was able to keep calm during corners and free kicks.

Overall not the best game but I’m certainly relieved we got the points. I’m really hoping this win will give us the confidence we need to face the next two derbies (Olympiakos three weeks from now and PAO at the end of February) since I genuinely see no reason we can’t win against PAO and at least get a draw against Olympiakos.

Highlights as usual for our league games can be found on the Novasports page for AEK.

 

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.

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

AEK 84-78 Apollona Patras

Posted in AEK, Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2015 by alexaek

Another league win for AEK, bringing our record so far this season to six wins in six games (our second best record since the modern league started). The win puts us first with 12 points, although both PAO and Olympiakos both play tomorrow. Decent game for most of our players, though Sakota had a hard time settling in today. He has been pretty solid the past few games so its understandable that he’ll have a hard time occasionally. Our top scorer was, unsurprisingly, Mavrokefalidis with 16 points followed by Kalabokis and Hairston with 12 each.

If anyone wants to catch the game, it can be watched in its entirety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVK2xPa3jVU

AEK 5-1 Iraklis

Posted in AEK, Greek Cup, Manager, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by alexaek

Despite all the events of the past week, AEK managed to rebound in the best possible way. Not only did we manage to get the three points from the win, but we did it by playing some great football and scoring the most goals we’ve scored in one game for many years now.

I was somewhat nervous about the game for a few reasons. First of all, regardless of the fact that Iraklis also just came up from the second division, they are a team that can never be taken lightly. Plus, having just lost our coach, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction the players were going to have. I’m very happy to see they were able to respond positively since I feel that it shows that the team definitely has some character. To come back from a heavy loss to our rivals and having your coach resign two days later, to come back from all that and play some of the best football they’ve played yet this season shows that there is definitely something good to build on with this team.

I only managed to have a working stream for part of the second half so I unfortunately missed all of our goals as they happened. I was able to follow the commentary online and on the radio though, and while it certainly helped that Iraklis were clearly not having a great day, there was no doubt that our attacking play was quite good. We seemed to have a lot of players who all found their form at once such as Barbosa and Vargas, but the key to this game was Mantalos. He didn’t manage to score a goal himself (though he did come close on a nice shot from far out), but he was heavily involved in almost all of the goals we scored. The game showed us just how important a role he can play when he is fit and in form and while it gives me some relief knowing we can make and finish chances, I also feel like we have such a wasted opportunity. With a player like Mantalos, who is able to read and set up plays so well, its such a shame that we did not invest a little more in some solid strikers, people who could latch on to the balls he sends in and finish consistently.

I’m not too sure how we looked defensively, partly because Iraklis had so few opportunities to create anything dangerous in our own ends. Kolovetsios played instead of Tzanetopoulos for the game, so I’ll be interested to see if Manolas sticks with Kolovetsios for the cup game this week as well.

Our next two games are a cup game away to Xanthi, and PAO away. Two tough games, but I’m actually confident we can get anywhere from four to six points of the two games. Xanthi will be tough but I feel like something special clicked last game and I certainly hope we can carry the momentum through to that game too. We’ve already played Xanthi away this season and while we didn’t end up scoring, we weren’t exactly outplayed either. With Mantalos on form, I’m sure we can get the win.

I’m without a doubt worried about the PAO game away, but PAO lost 3-1 today to PAOK, and derbies can always go either way. PAO’s form is nothing exceptional, and I actually don’t think they have a particularly great team this season. They’ll have  the advantage of playing at home, and they definitely have a few solid players, but I think if we play well then we can definitely compete pretty evenly with them.

For those who haven’t been following the news lately regarding our coaching situation, we are supposedly pretty close to signing Gus Poyet as our next manager. I’m not entirely familiar with him, but I know he has some experience in the Premier League which can’t be a bad thing. I know some people were hoping for a manager with more experience, but perhaps having someone younger with some Premier League experience might benefit us more in the end, especially as far as attracting new players is concerned. I’m hoping something will be wrapped up in the next few days, but on the other hand I like what Manolas did for our game against Iraklis (even though it was quite similar to the team Dellas was fielding) so I wouldn’t mind seeing him continue until just past the PAO game. I’m a bit worried that having a new coach come in now before such important games might affect the players a bit.

http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/sport/football/sunderland-afc/sunderland-ex-manager-gus-poyet-wanted-by-aek-athens-1-7533800