Archive for Superleague Greece

The Fiesta We’ve All Been Waiting For

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , on May 5, 2018 by alexaek

A fiesta that we’ve waited 24 years for, a fiesta that has been long overdue, finally Nea Filadelfia was able to celebrate the only way we know how. Flares, chanting, and a party that probably still lingers on the streets hours after the bus carrying the champions passed by.

The celebrations really started after our 1-0 win against Apollon Smyrnis, a game which technically was an away match though in reality was played in front of about ten thousand AEK supporters.

An open roof bus, painted specifically for this occasion, made its way from Rizoupoli stadium to Nea Filadelfia where it was, as expected, greeted by a sea of singing supporters. When I was re-watching some of the live coverage, people were estimating about thirty thousand supporters in the streets, and it certainly seemed that way from the video footage that I saw.

 

Its times like these when I would give anything to have the chance to be back in Greece. Its one thing to watch videos of this thousands of kilometers away but I truly cannot even imagine what it would have been like to be in Athens tonight. I’ve been around for some great moments, such as when we won the cup in 2011, but I have a feeling the atmosphere in Athens tonight would have been pretty unbelievable with the league now over, our basketball team in the Champions League final (tomorrow!) and the stadium on its way to being completed.

Now, as Melissanidis said earlier tonight, we look forward to more championships. With time, we might just be able to celebrate them in our new stadium before we know it!

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Kerkyra 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Euro Cup, Greek Super League, Handball with tags , , , , on April 29, 2018 by alexaek

The Champions of Greece faced off against 2nd Division bound Kerkyra today in a match that was, to be quite honest, pretty lackluster. The game did come to life towards the end as we managed to create some chances but Kerkyra’s keeper was in fine form and seemed determined to not concede.

To be fair to the team, as much as I would have liked to see us close out the season with 2 wins, I can understand the more laid back pace. We have just clinched the title and have a Cup game coming up in a couple weeks which could give us our first double in over 40 years, so I’m not surprised the team weren’t pushing too hard for all three points.

Despite the lack of chances on the pitch, the atmosphere in Kerkyra seemed to be electric from the moment the team arrived on the island. Not surprisingly, the reception for the team was enthusiastic to say the least:

In other AEK news, on top of the success this season for our football and basketball clubs, our handball team has also made it to the final of the EHF Challenge Cup after knocking out Portuguese club Madeira. The final, which will take place against Romanian side Potaissa Turda, will be played over two legs on the 13th and 20th of May.

We Are Officially Champions!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players with tags , , on April 23, 2018 by alexaek

I was two years old the last time AEK were crowned Champions of Greece. Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, we can officially call ourselves champions once again! It’s been a long journey to get where we are today after coming so close to winning the league in 2008, having multiple failed ownership groups, and ultimately falling to the 3rd division. After all that we’ve been through we’ve rebuilt in the best way possible, ultimately ending up with our 12th Championship after one of our more successful seasons in memory.

We can all finally breath a sigh of relief after the decision was announced today, the decision we were all waiting for. As was expected, PAOK were docked three points and handed a 3-0 loss in their game against us which ended up cementing our hold on 1st place with 66 points while PAOK now find themselves in 2nd on 58 points and with no hoping of catching us in the remaining two games.

It’s a shame the decision had to come out today and not yesterday (or sooner for that matter). The celebrations would have been all the more enthusiastic had we been able to cheer with absolute certainty the fact that we were champions after the game last night. Nevertheless, it is what it is and what matters now is that our patience and our willingness to stick with the team through all that its been through has finally paid off. I might not remember anything from the last time AEK won the Championship, but I’ll certainly remember this one.

What this really comes down to for me is so much more than just a championship. When you look at where the team is overall, you realize that this championship wasn’t simply a the ultimate goal for us. Rather, this is just the beginning. We have serious ownership, a great squad to build upon, and a construction site that will, before we know it, become a place we can truly call home. The future for AEK is brighter than it ever has been and I can’t wait to see what we might be able to accomplish in the coming seasons.

As expected, a lot of tributes and congratulations have been coming in throughout Greece and from abroad. I’m seeing supporters of PAO, Aris, and even Olympiakos congratulate AEK on the season we’ve had. It seems that all of Greece, aside from some bitter PAOK fans, have recognized what we have accomplished and the good we have done for Greek football.

There has been endless talk online of everything that happened yesterday and today, but for those of you who have a few minutes, I’d recommend checking out the video that Gazzetta.gr made for AEK, which can be found here. Its not long, but it definitely does a good job of showing just how much this win means for us.

Agonasport.com also posted a nice overview of our 12 championships to date, an article written in English which can be viewed here.

 

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!

At A Loss For Words

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2018 by alexaek

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in Greek football, something happens that makes you realize you haven’t seen anything yet. What unfolded in Toumba today proved yet again that you can really never know what to expect when it comes to this league (though calling it a “league” would be a little too generous… maybe “zoo” would be more appropriate).

It all started with what happened early Sunday morning (or late Saturday night for those of us in North America) as I mentioned yesterday. PAOK’s punishment for what happened two weeks earlier in Toumba were reversed as they were given back 3 points and were allowed to play with fans in the stadium for today’s match. How those decisions were made is beyond me, but what was more important today was the game at hand against the only team that could challenge us for the league.

The game got off to what was surprisingly a quiet start off the pitch. Little fan trouble from what I could tell and no issues in the locker rooms either, though the match itself was a dirty one. Tackles were coming from both sides and as would be expected, it wasn’t the kind of environment that encouraged flowing football. Eventually things settled down and we did see some chances for both sides, including scoring opportunities for Araujo, Livaja, and Bakasetas.

The match was heading for a 0-0 stalemate when at the 89th minute, PAOK scored from a corner. Or did they? Replays showed that a PAOK player was clearly in an offside position and though the referee originally indicated that the goal was a good one, he seemed to track back on that decision. After consulting with his linesman and dealing with pressure from both sets of players, he seemed to reverse his decision (a call which I believe was a good one, though “experts” in Greece seem undecided on whether the goal should have counted or not).

Now you might be wondering, what was so odd about that? A fairly dirty game, a few chances for both sides, and a last minute winner are all to be expected in a derby. Well, it was after the referee changed his mind on the goal that things unfortunately turned ugly. What happened next was honestly something I would never have expected to see, not even in Greek football.

At this point in the game with the score reversed back to 0-0, Ivan Savidis, owner of PAOK, stormed on to the pitch and instructed his players to leave the pitch. I guess he was attempting to protest the refs decision to disallow the goal? In either case, it didn’t help to calm the situation down at all and he faced resistance from his own players after they refused to leave the pitch and insisted on finishing the match. The situation escalated from there as Savidis made his way towards the refs and AEK’s bench, supposedly cursing officials including referee Kominis and a number of AEK staff members.

What made all of this almost unbelievable is one small detail that wasn’t originally shown on TV. Pictures that surfaced not long after all this happened show Savidis walking onto the pitch with a pistol strapped to his waist. Yes, thats right. PAOK’s owner walks on to the pitch and not only does he start threating officials and staff of AEK, but he does so with a gun on him. I can honestly say I’ve seen it all in Greek football now. I don’t know if Savidis thought he was back in Russia, where maybe that kind of thing happens regularly, but I think its safe to say you can understand why AEK players and staff made their way to the dressing room shortly after that.

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After the incident involving Savidis, the refereeing team also made their way to the dressing rooms and it was at this point where the result of the match was completely up in the air. Would the game continue? Would it be ended as a draw? It took around two hours before a decision was made and the decision that was officially declared by the ref was one that not even the radio commentators had ever seen before. Officially, the ref claimed a 1-0 PAOK win and declared the game “called off” because AEK refused to re-enter the pitch. So the goal counted, then was taken back, and was then re-awarded to PAOK after the fact. Yep, I don’t think I’ll ever see a day like this again in Greek Football.

Now, at this point the match might be awarded 1-0 for PAOK but I think its safe to say that this is far from over. This will definitely be taken to court, and AEK will have a strong case for having the result reversed in some way. I’m sure it will be a couple weeks at least until we know what officially the outcome of this match is. Its also worth noting that there is talk of the government shutting down the league, indefinitely or for the remainder of the season. I’m sure the headlines of newspapers throughout Greece will be pretty interesting…

Atromitos 1-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Derby, football, Greek Football with tags , , , , on February 26, 2018 by alexaek

So as you may have seen already, and as was mentioned in a comment in a previous point, the all important PAOK-Oly game was never played. I’m sure it comes as no surprise too that the reason was once again fan trouble from the PAOK fans.

Why would I bring this up in a post about a game between AEK and Atromitos? Well the possible implications in our hunt for the title could end up being decisive. Nothing is determined for sure yet but it seems quite possible that PAOK could have 3 points deducted, and will likely play a couple games without supporters. The 3 point deduction is huge as it drops PAOK 2 points below us and places us alone in 1st. Whats frustrating about today’s game is had we managed to hold on to our 1-0 lead, we would have had the chance be even further ahead of PAOK before we play them in a game where they likely won’t have any home support. Its a huge opportunity lost but at the end of the day I can’t say I’m surprised. Atromitos are never an easy team to face and afterall they were the last team to beat us in all competitions back in October of 2017. It didn’t help that fatigue has clearly started to get the best of us, resulting in a game where we often failed to control the pace for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately the disappointment didn’t end with the result itself. Livaja picked up a yellow meaning he will have to miss two of the next four games: Panionios, PAOK, Panathinaikos, and Platanias. On top of that, Araujo, Simoes, and Hult all picked up injuries during the game but I’m not sure yet whether any of them are particularly serious.

Highlights of today’s game are below, featuring Araujo’s goal to make it 1-0 for AEK and Warda’s beauty to tie it for the home team.

 

For something a little more uplifting, even if today’s result isn’t the end of the world, take a look at this video showing the progress being made in Nea Filadelfia. Its an exciting time to be an AEK fan as things are actually starting to come together regarding the stadium.

Xanthi 1-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Europa League with tags , , , , , , , on October 16, 2017 by alexaek

After our first loss of the season to Tripolis a couple weeks ago, its safe to say we were all hoping for a bounce back win to get our title push back on track. Well, all we got instead was a rather disappointing 1-1 draw. The point helps keep us within reach of PAOK as we only sit one point behind them in 2nd, but a win would have been just enough to keep us in 1st.

It was a frustrating game to watch to say the least, as the stats clearly suggest. Possession was 65% in our favour and we more than dominated in terms of creating chances: 4 for Xanthi and 18 for AEK (with 6 chances on target). Zivkovic was great in nets for Xanthi and it was just one of those days where the ball just didn’t want to go in the back of the net. It doesn’t help that Araujo clearly still hasn’t found some good form. I’m not sure if its the pressure of the expectations of last season, or if theres something else but I was expecting him to find some form by now. If he doesn’t find it soon we could be in trouble since hes naturally a big part of this team.

At the end of the day I can’t say I’m too surprised with the result. Xanthi is one of those towns along with Tripolis where we often seem to struggle. You just have to look back at our past games in Xanthi dating back to 2012 season and the results dont paint a very promising picture: One win, one loss, and four draws. All in all its not the end of the world for us just yet as we still have a three point buffer between us and Olympiakos, but we wont be this lucky for much longer. Olympiakos got their first win this weekend since the 26th of August but if past seasons are anything to go by, its only a matter of time until Olympiakos get back to winning form one way or another. We’ll also have to be weary of PAO who have managed to put together 2 consecutive wins for the first time this season and while they might not seem like a threat at the moment, they can’t be discounted quite yet.

 

As dissappointing as that result was, hopefully the team can put it behind them and focus on the upcoming match against AC Milan at the San Siro. We’ve never beat Milan away from home, and I’m sure they’ll be coming out to strong to make a good impression after their derby loss to Inter over the weekend. I know we have a good team, but I’m not expecting the three points here. Having said that, Rijeka managed to give them a hard time in Milan a few weeks ago, so perhaps they have some weakness we can take advantage of.