Archive for Zuculini

Asteras Tripolis 0-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2016 by alexaek

Didn’t get the chance to watch the game since I was at work, but I’ll try to summarize some of the main points from the game based on the highlights and what I read during and after the game.

The good:

  • We managed to at least get a point. Asteras are never an easy opponent, as they proved in the first round, so I guess a point isn’t all that bad. We’re still five points ahead of Panathinaikos and have an easier schedule ahead of us.
  • Cordero managed to get some solid game time without picking up an injury, and Buonanotte also got the chance to play a bit.

The bad:

  • We really could not finish, and that is worrying. Its one thing if we struggle to create chances, but we definitely made some chances today but still never really looked like scoring. As my father pointed out, we have a number of set plays but still Poyet didn’t even give Pekhart a chance as a sub. Personally I feel like today would have been a great game for Pekhart, at least after half time.
  • Djebbour is bad… really bad. I wouldn’t be upset if I never saw him play again to be honest. Mistake after mistake, and an absolutely pointless red card to top off what was a terrible performance. Linking to my previous point, I really have to wonder why Poyet went with Djebbour over Pekhart.
  • Asteras had way too many chances. We were lucky to not concede, very lucky. Based on what I saw from the highlights, I would even say that Asteras looked more dangerous inside the box than we did, and our sloppy defending did little help. Terrible clearances, poor tackles or a lack of any sort of tackle when it was needed, we ended up giving Asteras way more room and time than we should have.
  • We should have had a penalty after Iglesias pulled Lambropoulos down in the box. How neither the ref not the linesmen saw it I really can’t understand.

So not a great game overall. At least both teams managed to create a few chances, but we really could have and should have come away from this game more. Its games like these though that show how desperately we need players with experience, calm nerves, and motivation. Sure we got some big derby wins and theres no denying that our players have the right attitude at times, but we need a team that will walk away from games like today’s with three points and without even struggling to do it. I know everyone always says it, but its games like these that always count in the end. The derby wins are nice, but we absolutely need to get all three points from the smaller games where a team like AEK should always be the favourite.

Not much else to say about the game since I didn’t actually get the chance to watch it, but I will mention the fact that Zuculini was in the stands to support the team, having travelled from Athens to Tripoli with crutches just so he could be there with them. I don’t know whats in store for him, and whether we’ll actually ever see him play for us again, but the fact that hes been attending practices and following games despite still recovering from his injury is quite something. There’s no doubting that he wants to be part of the team and I can only hope that he recovers fully so we can see him action again. I’m sure he still has a lot more to offer.

One final thing to note was that Johansson picked up an injury. Definitely not something I want to hear with playoffs coming up rather quickly, but judging from what I’ve heard, it doesn’t sound too serious. He’ll need some time off, but I’m hoping he’ll be back within a game or two.

Highlights on the NovaSport sight as usual:

http://aek365.novasports.gr

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Atromitos 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Dellas, Greek Soccer, Greek Super League, Injuries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2016 by alexaek

Just like that, our winning streak comes to an end. It was an unfortunate way for us to lose but I’m hoping that the loss at least serves as a wake up call for the team, a wakeup call which we desperately need following our performance today.

So how did we play? Terribly. Did we deserve to lose? Absolutely. Its hard to find one person to blame the performance on since it seemed like there were very few players who came out today to win. Djebbour did absolutely nothing today, Mantalos seemed to have no imagination, Vargas was quieter and sloppier than Djebbour, and our defense had no idea how to handle any counter attack that was thrown at them.

The game started off slowly, but I was sure that it was just our players getting a feel for how Atromitos would be playing. I was sure that by about the 20th minute we’d start to see some life from our players but the whole first half ended up passing by without one solid chance being created.

Part of me wants to blame Atromitos for playing so defensively that we just couldn’t find a way through but I know that the blame falls on us entirely. Throughout the first half we had possession, we were able to keep Atromitos at bay, but could not find any way of getting a dangerous ball into their box. Even corners for us consistently lead to nothing at all with the corners we were taking more often than not landing right in the keeper’s gloves.

Games like this really make me wonder why Poyet refuses to give Buonanotte more of a chance. Could it be that he thinks he lacks the physicality to be able to hold his ground? Does he something at practice that we aren’t able to experience ourselves? Its possible, but could playing Buonanotte really be any worse than playing Djebbour and Vargas? On games like today’s, with Atromitos parking so many men in front of the net, we need players who can dribble a ball in to the box rather than relying on long balls which will always be defended with ease from one of Atromitos’ eight defenders. Playing Buonanotte from at least half time would have really given us far more options, options which we just did not have otherwise. Even the addition of Platellas in the second half added a bit of life to the team but it still wasn’t enough.

Aside from the awful performance by players such as Djebbour, Vargas, and Arzo, what hurt us most today was the absence of Simoes and Barbosa. Without Simoes today, Johansson was forced to do most of the hard work himself with Zuculini also providing support either beside or behind him. On top of that, the shaky performance from our defenders meant that Johansson and Zuculini had to stay back often to provide defensive support while not being able to contribute to creating any solid attacking plays. Unlike previous games where Johansson and Simoes were able to hold on to the ball and bring it into the half where they could distribute to one of our attacking players, we instead had to rely on Mantalos and Aravidis coming back to set up plays to Djebbour and Vargas (a set up which really did not work well).

Overall we seemed tired, unimaginative, and perhaps even a bit complacent. Of course we were on a good roll, but at no point can we take any match for granted. I hate to say it, but we are nowhere near the level where we can be considered clear favourites against any team in the league. Hopefully the players were reminded of that today because if they play the way they did today against Olympiakos next week, we’ll be in for quite the embarrassment.

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w62qG02W9s

By the way, the standings from AEK below are: AEK with 42, Panathinaikos with 38, and PAOK with 34. Both PAO and PAOK lost over the weekend meaning today’s game would have been a huge chance to go 7 points clear of PAO and 11 clear of PAOK… Unfortunate that we couldn’t take advantage of that. To make things worse, there was some trouble after the match involving our supporter’s after the match which means we possibly face bans for our fans, and even point deductions. Its unclear whether we’ll have fans in the stands for the game against Olympiakos next week, but it seems quite likely that we’ll be facing PAO in an empty OAKA…

 

AEK Through to Cup Semi-Finals

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, Draw, Greek Cup, Greek Football, PAOK with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2016 by alexaek

It wasn’t the easiest of wins for us today as Iraklis proved to be quite determined for a goal, but we managed to do enough for a 0-1 win. Of course, this now puts us at 9 wins out of 9 games so far in 2016, a stat which I find reassuring going into four very difficult league games.

Today’s win was very much a formality as we almost all but guaranteed our progress to the next round, but I was glad Poyet took the time to give our new signings some playing time. Zuculini started the match and from what I read did a pretty decent job for his first appearance of the season. Generally, we were holding back quite a bit in the first half so there were only so many opportunities for him to get involved but judging from the commentary I was following, he looked promising every time he was involved with a play.

Pekhart also got some time on the pitch, though he came on as a sub for Buonanotte later in the match. Hard to say how he looked since he came on so late, but hopefully we’ll be seeing more of him this weekend.

Our only goal was scored by Mantalos, the second goal in a row for him now. The finish was well taken but what really made the goal one worth watching is the passing that led up to it. Its the kind of passing that I feel really highlights why we’ve been doing so well under Poyet. Both Buonanotte and Djebour, the two involved with setting up the goal, took the extra second to seek out the better pass rather than simply passing the ball forward and hoping it leads to a chance. If we can play like this against Olympiakos and PAO, we can definitely do some damage.

Unfortunately, we did not really manage to make our mark on the game despite creating some chances, though its understandable. We had the game wrapped up before it started and we have some big games coming up so I understand if Poyet wanted the team to take it easy and not go all out if they didn’t have to. It was too bad to see Soiledis be subbed off so early though with what seems to be a pulled muscle.

We finally got to see Baroja return to action as Poyet decided to give Anestis a well earned break, and I found this promising to see. It gives me the impression that Poyet really does take Anestis seriously and considers him an option for starting keeper, something I was worried wouldn’t happen.

All in all we got the result we needed and we’ve booked our place in the semi-finals of the cup. Still to early to tell who we’ll be facing in the next round as the draw isn’t until next week, but there’s definitely the possibility we could be facing either PAOK, PAO, or Olympiakos. At this point I can’t see Olympiakos not making it to the final and even though I don’t want to get ahead of myself, there’s nothing I would love to see more than us get our revenge against them in the final. We’ll find out for sure either way at the draw next week.

Highlights for the game can be watched below: