PANATHINAIKOS-PAOK IN CRUCIAL DERBY
(Matchday 13 Preview)
Matchday 13 of the Greek SuperLeague features some important matches both for the top and bottom of the table. Two teams in relative crisis, Panathinaikos and PAOK will square off in the AGONAsport Match of the Week. Both sides have endured difficult starts to their respective campaigns, culminating in the last week where Panathinaikos saw manager Andrea Stramaccioni leave the club and PAOK were embarrassed by losing a 3-1 lead over Atromitos last week.
Leaders Olympiacos attempt to get back to winning ways when they take on an improved Levadiakos side. AEK travel to take on a Kerkyra side who shocked observers last week as they held on for a 0-0 at Olympiacos.
Platanias and Panionios start things off in Chania in Saturday’s early kick-off. That match is followed a couple hours later by the meeting of Veria and Panetolikos, a match both sides will see as a must-win.
Elsewhere, red-hot Xanthi welcome Asteras Tripolis to town while Larisa entertain visitors Atromitos.
This week’s Monday night game pits winless Iraklis against surprise second-placed PAS Giannina.
*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: PANATHINAIKOS - PAOK
The AGONAsport Match of the Week can be none other than the derby between Panathinaikos and PAOK. This season’s edition could be called ‘the Crisis Derby’ as both sides enter the fixture in pretty awful shape.
Panathinaikos only managed to snag a point at the death against Panionios last weekend having been outplayed for the majority of the match. That was followed by another disheartening performance against OFI in the Greek Cup which led to a 2-1 defeat. That loss spelled the end of Andrea Stramaccioni’s tenure as Trifylli boss and Marinos Ouzounidis has been installed in his place.
The question is whether it is too little too late. 8 points off the pace in the league and now looking at a possible early elimination from the Cup competition, Panathinaikos have seemingly lost out on their two main goals this season. If Ouzounidis can get a result in his first match however, it could go a long way in convincing supporters to give him and his new players time to get it right.
Things in Thessaloniki with PAOK are not much better. After giving up a 3-1 lead in the 4-3 loss to Atromitos last week, Vladan Ivic promised changes with Giorgos Tzavellas being demoted to the reserves following some off-the-pitch issues. Supporters are fuming as the team have also been knocked out of the title race before the season has really taken off. 11 points behind Olympiacos, there does not appear to be a way back unless Olympiacos self-destruct.
In Greek Cup action, PAOK managed only a 0-0 draw against Trikala midweek in one of their worst displays of the season. Certainly, Ivic must begin to mend this team with rumors of dressing room discontent running rampant. After receiving a vote of confidence from the chairman, Ivic seems to have the capacity to make changes and do things his way. Ultimately, he like all other managers will be judged on results. A positive one at Leoforos on Sunday could help to turn the tide.
PLATANIAS - PANIONIOS
Panionios make the trip to Crete on Saturday to take on hosts Platanias in Chania. The visitors are coming off a fine performance against Panathinaikos last weekend, however there was disappointment in the way Panionios gave up the equalizer in the dying moments of the match. Now, Panionios will have only the three points on their mind against a Platanias side who is struggling recently.
Giorgios Paraschos’ side put up a good fight against AEK last weekend, but ultimately succumbed by conceding three times in the final 13 minutes of the match. That game typified Platanias’ recent form which has been abysmal. The Kritiki are winless in their last six matches and will be eager to start turning the tide as they have fallen down near the relegation zone.
Panionios will be boosted by the return of Spyros Risvanis and Manolis Siopis who both missed the Panathinaikos match. Yaya Banana and Vanderson are still injury doubts for Giorgos Paraschos, though their chances of playing a role on Saturday have improved.
VERIA - PANETOLIKOS
Veria are in desperate search of points on Saturday against Panetolikos. Thomas Grafas’ side are enduring a miserable start to the campaign. The Vasilissa tou Vorra, who are a mere three points ahead of bottom-side Iraklis, have won only one of nine matches this season, and have the worst offensive record in the SuperLeague with four goals in scored in nine matches. Last week Veria went down to PAS Giannina 2-0 away, which is no shame, however they must begin picking up points or else this season could become unsalvageable very soon.
Panetolikos lost an exciting fixture to Xanthi last weekend, but Giannis Mantzourakis’ team did rebound midweek by defeating Panthrakikos 1-0 in Greek Cup action. That win was the Agrinio club’s first Cup victory in over three years.
Whether that win can be carried into their league form remains to be seen. Certainly there is quality within the side, the question is whether they are only capable of a midtable finish or something better this season.
KERKYRA - AEK
Kerkyra stymied Olympiacos last week en route to a valuable point in a 0-0 draw at the Karaiskakis Stadium. Now they will take on another Greek giant as AEK are set to make the trip to the island this weekend. Kerkyra have won three matches this season with all those coming at home. Certainly racking up points inside their own stadium is necessary if Michalis Grigoriou’s men are to remain in the SuperLeague. A midweek draw against Lamia in the Greek Cup may have been a letdown, but this is a side that does have enough weapons to cause problems even against the division’s best sides.
AEK labored through most of their game on Matchday 12 against Platanias before finally making a breakthrough and exploding for three goals in the last quarter of an hour. Consistency is still lacking for Jose Morais and company though as was indicated by a 2-2 Greek Cup draw on Wednesday against Karditsa after the Kitrinomavri went up 2-0 early. A second league win in a row would begin to take some of the enormous pressure off this club. Dmytro Chygrynskiy should return to the side in this match-up though the likes of Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Juan Manuel Diaz, and Vangelis Platellas are still out through injury.
OLYMPIACOS - LEVADIAKOS
Olympiacos and Levadiakos face off in Piraeus with Paulo Bento’s men keen on taking the points at home. That is something Thrylos failed to do last week as a very well-organized Kerkyra team kept them at bay for 90 minutes. Bento has rotated his players this week as a mix of first-team and reserve players featured in the 4-0 win against Chania.
Though Olympiacos could only pick up a point against Kerkyra, other results worked out for them as Panathinaikos, and PAOK failed to win. With one or both of those teams set to lose points this weekend, Olympiacos could continue to build on their lead atop the standings against those clubs that had been previously been classified as title challengers.
Levadiakos won’t be pushovers and will bring some great form into this fixture. Since the international break, Ratko Dostanic has led his team to two wins and a draw. In that stretch, the team played three times in seven days, drawing with PAS Giannina, defeating Iraklis as well as Panserraikos in the Greek Cup. Another win against Olympiacos and it would be considered a real streak. If the club can continue this sort of form, a climb into the European places would be possible, if still unlikely. The team must improve their away form though as they have only a single point from their matches away from Livadeia.
LARISSA - ATROMITOS
Though they were a man down for the majority of the match, Larisa showed some resilience last weekend as they took a point away at Asteras Tripolis. Sakis Tsiolis’ charges now come back home to take on Atromitos. Nico Varela is still out for the Vissini and Borislav Jovanovic misses out as well due to his red card suspension from last week.
If Larisa were resilient to come away with a point against Asteras then Atromitos were downright heroic last week against PAOK. Down 3-1 with 20 minutes to play, a loss looked certain for Giorgos Korakakis and his players. What transpired after PAOK were reduced to 10 men on 73 minutes was a comeback for the ages. Atromitos scored three times in the final 17 minutes to record a memorable victory in Toumba. Now 5th in the table, with only one defeat in their last six matches, Atromitos are playing some good soccer and have real aspirations to continue pushing on for a European spot.
XANTHI - ASTERAS TRIPOLIS
|Xanthi||10:15 AM||Asteras Tripolis|
Razvan Lucescu’s improving Xanthi side entertain Asteras Tripolis on Sunday. Lucescu has issued a rallying cry to supporters to turn up and support his side. While Xanthi have rebounded superbly from a poor opening to their campaign, the club remain winless at home in three attempts. Last week saw the team pick up an impressive 3-2 win away to Panetolikos to move up to 7th in the standings. Xanthi’s unbeaten run is now at seven matches.
While Asteras are not doing as well as Xanthi, Dimitris Elefteropoulos has overseen a drastic improvement in his team’s performances and results since he took the job. In the last six matches, Asteras have amassed 10 points, winning three of those six games. That is even more impressive when you consider they lost their first three games of the season. In team news, the Tripoli side will welcome back Cristian Chavez to league action. The Argentine attacker played a half against Aris in the Greek Cup in a 3-3 draw and will give a boost to his team by being available this weekend.
IRAKLIS - PAS GIANNINA
|Iraklis||12:30 PM||PAS Giannina|
PAS Giannina look to keep their good run continue when they take on winless Iraklis in the Monday night match. Giannis Petrakis was able to rest 7 first-team regulars in the 1-0 Greek Cup victory over Agrotikos Asteras so his squad will be fresh as they make the trip to Thessaloniki.
PAS recorded a comfortable 2-0 over Veria last time out in the league and have been one of the stories of the season thus far with their 2nd place standing.
Iraklis on the other hand could barely be in worse shape. On their third manager of the season already in Savvas Pantelidis, o Giraios has a paltry three points this season, all from draws. Last week they kept it close against Levadiakos for nearly 75 minutes before giving up three goals in the latter stages en route to a 3-0 loss. As the weeks pass the need for points becomes greater especially at home where they have managed only one point and one goal scored in four matches this season.