The Eternal Rivals Do Battle
(Matchday 10 Preview)
The biggest match on the Greek soccer calendar takes place this weekend when Olympiacos and Panathinaikos lock horns at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. The ‘Eternal enemies’ meet for the first time this season and the result could have major ramifications for the way the title race will swing.
PAOK, fresh off their big derby win against AEK last week, face a tricky trip away at Panionios on Sunday. Two key matches in the bid to avoid a relegation battle also take place on Sunday. Panetolikos host Larisa, who will make the away trip with new manager Sakis Tsiolis. Kerkyra will welcome Veria and both sides will expect nothing less than the three points.
Matchday 10 kicks off on Saturday with a trio of matches. High-flying PAS Giannina begin the weekend when they await the arrival of Asteras Tripolis. Levadiakos and Xanthi tussle in Livadeia and in the late kick-off, AEK and Atromitos clash at the Olympic Stadium.
Monday’s match sees an Iraklis side desperate for points facing a must-win against Platanias.
*For the full SuperLeague schedule click here or visit the Greek SuperLeague home page for more. For TV Listings of this weekend's games (and more) in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Greece visit our TV Listings's page.
GAME OF THE WEEK: OLYMPIACOS - PANATHINAIKOS
The AGONAsport Game of the Week is none other than Greece’s Clasico, Olympiacos vs. Panathinaikos. Both teams have had rocky patches this season and they enter this intense derby clash in different form.
Olympiacos had a disastrous summer which saw two managers come and go as the team crashed out of the Champions’ League. Paulo Bento’s team also endured some early inconsistency in the league which had many observers wondering if the defending champions were finally going to cede their crown. In the last month however, Thrylos have put together a string of impressive results and improved performances. Derby wins over AEK and PAOK have certainly aided in the cause and now four points clear at the top, the Erythrolefki are once again the team to beat in the title race.
Panathinaikos started the campaign in blistering form, not only winning games, but doing so with style and confidence. The belief was that a settled squad which was enhanced by some good business in the summer transfer window was ready to challenge for the title. Early leaders in the standings, in recent weeks the Prasini have faltered time and time again. Not only is there a four-point gap at the top to recover, but supporters are visibly frustrated with the team’s current slump. There was clear evidence of this in the 3-0 home defeat to Standard Liege on Thursday night in the team’s Europa League match. At the end, fans hurled abuse at the team and demanded a response in this weekend’s derby.
Ahead of the big match, Olympiacos’ main injury concern centers around influential midfielder Andre Martins. He picked up a knock in the 1-1 draw away to Astana in the Europa League and will have to wait until the weekend to see if he can recover quickly enough.
For Panathinaikos, there is a huge injury blow as Marcus Berg has been all but ruled out of this derby. The Swedish striker limped off after 30 minutes against Standard. His absence will be officially be decided by late Friday or Saturday. Christopher Samba will also not be fit in time to feature, but Berg’s injury deals a huge blow to the Panathinaikos attack.
PAS GIANNINA - ASTERAS TRIPOLIS
|PAS Giannina||9:00 AM||Asteras Tripolis|
Surprise package of the season PAS Giannina take on Asteras Tripolis in the match that will kick-off Matchday 10 on Saturday. Giannis Petrakis’ Giannina group enjoyed another superb outing on Monday when they came from behind to defeat Panetolikos. PAS lie in 3rd place in the league standings, though they have a game in hand over 2nd place Panathinaikos. Asteras are conversely at the other end of the table after a stuttering start to the season. There are positive signs emerging though they have won two of their last three matches.
David Nadales will miss this match for Giannina. The Spanish wing-back looked set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but it has been discovered that his injury was not as serious as first thought. The good news for the club is that Andi Lila will return for this match as will Noe Acosta who has been missing since the first weeks of the season.
In injury news for Asteras, this weekend will mark the return to action for attacker Cedric Gondo. There are question marks over a trio of players including Aleksandar Stanisavljevic, Dimitris Kourbelis, and Walter Iglesias
LEVADIAKOS - XANTHI
One of the matches that flies under the radar this weekend will be between Levadiakos and Xanthi. There is importance though for this result. A win for either side could be crucial as Xanthi try to push up past midtable and Levadiakos attempt to put distance between themselves and the relegation spots. Xanthi are 8th and are coming off a 0-0 draw against Kerkyra. Levadiakos meanwhile are 12th, just a point above the drop zone and are returning home after a 1-0 defeat to Asteras on Matchday 9.
Levadiakos have plenty of injury headaches. Konstantinos Pappas, Zisis Karahalios, and Chahir Belghazouani remain unfit to train while Chumbinho is back in Brazil trying to regain fitness. Nwankwo Obiora is still a long-term injury victim.
AEK - ATROMITOS
AEK will attempt to rebound from derby disappointment when they play host to Atromitos on Saturday evening. Jose Morais’ men were pegged back in Thessaloniki against PAOK last weekend as they lost 1-0. The sour taste left by conceding the decisive goal deep into injury time could only be washed away by a win this weekend.
Atromitos will be no easy side to brush away though and proved to be a very difficult test for Olympiacos last weekend as the Piraeus side won narrowly. That was a first defeat for manager Giorgos Korakakis since he took over two games into the campaign. Since then Atromitos are back up the table in a tie for 6th place and the aim will be undoubtedly to maintain that spot and push on for a shot at Europe.
Missing from the AEK squad will be Tasos Bakasetas and long-term absentee Joleon Lescott who is continuing his recovery. The surprise for AEK fans is the inclusion of Patito, who was at first considered to surely miss the match.
For Atromitos, Martin Tonso is likely to miss this match while Nicolas Diguiny is also unavailable.
PANETOLIKOS - LARISSA
Larisa travel to Panetolikos on Sunday in a game that coincides with the return of Sakis Tsiolis to the Vissini. Aggelos Anastasiadis was given the sack earlier this week despite his former side coming up with a credible 2-0 victory Panionios in his last match in charge. Tsiolis returns to the AEL FC Arena five months after he was left the club.
Giannis Mantzourakis will want his side to become more consistent with what on paper will be deemed a must-win fixture against AEL. Winless in their last five matches, Panetolikos were another team who came flying out of the gates, but as of late have struggled.
Larisa won’t be able to count on Brazilian Dodo and Nikos Anastopoulos this weekend. Also not available is Pol Hurtado due to suspension. For Platanias it’s all about who is back. Marko Markovski and Miguel Rodrigues are healthy again while Giorgos Mygas and Stefanos Papoutsogiannopoulos are also set to feature.
KERKYRA - VERIA
Kerkyra and Veria meet in an intriguing battle between two relegation threatened teams. Kerkyra are coming off of a draw away to Xanthi. Michalis Grigoriou’s men have some major injury issues facing them. Diogo has been ruled out as has Mathieu Gomes. In a race to be fully fit, Vladimir Dimitrovsky is also doubtful for Matchday 10.
Veria are not without their concerns as well. Pantelis Kapetanos may not feature on Sunday, though there is positive news for Veria supporters. Stelios Marangos, Giannis Papadopoulos, Manolis Papasterianos, and Jeffrey Sarpong are all back.
Kerkyra now occupy 12th in the SuperLeague table on 7 points while Veria would do well to climb out of their current of 15th on 10 points.
PANIONIOS - PAOK
Panionios and PAOK square off on Sunday in Nea Smyrni. Panionios want to get back to winning ways, while PAOK want to keep their league form going well while forgetting about their European disappointments this season.
What a difference a few days makes and PAOK witnessed this in negative fashion this week. First off was a derby against AEK where the home side finally grabbed the winner in the 95th minute. Unfortunately, the rest of the week didn’t go as planned. For starters, PAOK lost in the Europa League to Qarabag (1-0), which put a severe dent in their hopes of a place in the knockout rounds. Vladan Ivic’s side must once again refocus on their domestic duties and continue climbing up the table.
Panionios need a good result to bring the feel-good factor back to Nea Smyrni. A few matches into the new campaign and this was the club everyone was raving about. A month or so later, Panionios have dropped down to 5th and are suffering from a rash of injuries.
Panionios must make do without Taxiarchis Fountas (suspension), Jerome Guihoata, and Michael Olaitan for this game. PAOK won’t be able to count on Djalma Campos who is not slated back on the pitch until after the international break. Panionios are 6th place in the table, a single point behind PAOK (11), with 10 points.
IRAKLIS - PLATANIAS
Iraklis will be seeking a break from the chaos when they face off against Platanias on Monday. Giannis Amanatidis was given the sack after just two league matches in charge on the back of last weekend’s defeat to Panathinaikos. In his place is Savvas Pantelidis, who last coached two years ago before he left Levadiakos. The hope for Iraklis supporters is that this move will help turn a frustrating season around. Pantelidis has lots of work to do with his new team the clear favorites for one of the two relegation spots. With only 2 points thus far, Iraklis need any points and very quickly.
Platanias have cooled considerably after a fast start to the season. The Chaniotes have lost three on the bounce and are winless in their last five matches. Certainly, they will need to rediscover their early season form if they are to maintain their midtable standing.
Ognjen Gnajtic looks likely to miss the journey to Thessaloniki for Platanias, while Huanderson is still out for Iraklis.