Away Tests For Giants Await
(Matchday 4 Preview)
Olympiacos, AEK, and PAOK have away tests this weekend in Matchday 4 of the Greek SuperLeague. Olympiacos is beginning to look like their old selves again and will be visiting the Kaftantzoglio Stadium to face-off against Iraklis. On paper, AEK have the easier fixture as they play against an out-of-sorts Veria team. Asteras Tripolis welcomes PAOK to the Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium on Monday while Panathinaikos is at home against a tricky PAS Giannina team.
Elsewhere, Xanthi and Panionios kick things off on Saturday followed later in the day by Platanias and Levadiakos. Atromitos play Panetolikos and Kerkyra are at home for a second consecutive week, this time against Larisa.
xanthi - panionios
Two teams with drastically different outcomes clash at the Xanthi FC Arena to open up the Greek SuperLeague weekend. Xanthi host Panionios with the home side desperately wanted to bounce back from their 4-1 opening day defeat to AEK.
Great goals and attractive attacking football, that was the result of Panionios’ first game of the season. Vladan Milojevic’s side were superb in downing Asteras Tripolis 3-0. It was a real signal of intent from the Nea Smyrni club with Taxiarchis Fountas in particular looking in fine form. One problem for Panionios will be the absence of center-back Vaggelis Oikonomou who will miss the Xanthi trip due to a muscle strain.
platanias - levadiakos
Platanias were opportunistic in defeating Kerkyra 1-0 away last weekend. However, far from being lucky, the Chaniotes were superb at the back in order to come away with the three points. They host Levadiakos on Saturday in their home opener looking to make it two wins in a row. However, Vitaliy Printeta, the club’s Ukrainian center-back, will not participate due to a muscle pull.
Levadiakos went down 3-0 to Panathinaikos in their first match. While the revamped Prasini looked good on the day, Levadiakos were poor and offered little to no attacking threat while having many holes at the back. It may be early in the season, but supporters of the Livadeia club will be looking for big improvement this weekend. One bright spot for the club is the signing this week of Nigerian defensive midfielder Nwankwo Obioro. Formerly of Inter Milan and Parma early on in his career, Obioro most recently played for Academica and Cordoba.
veria - aek
With loads of confidence, AEK travel to Veria this weekend seeking the three points. Temur Ketsbaia’s team looked very sharp in their 4-1 defeat of Xanthi last Sunday. Hugo Almeida in particular appeared to be every bit the marquee player AEK thought they signed. Lazaros Christodoulopoulos looks set to make his debut on Saturday, however the Kitrinomavri are not in a rush to have him feature until he is 100%. Almeida had a slight knock earlier in the week, but there are no concerns about him on the eve of this match. Andre Simoes was unfit for the Xanthi match, but is available this weekend.
Veria meanwhile will find it difficult not to improve on their opening result of the new campaign. A 6-1 defeat to Olympiacos says it all and Alekos Bosniadis will already be feeling the pressure after that performance. The good news for the club is that they have been officially granted a stay in the top flight after days of uncertainty whether they would be relegated due to the financial uncertainty surrounding the club.
panathinaikos - pas giannina
|Panathinaikos||9:00 AM||PAS Giannina|
One of the weekend’s most attractive ties will take place at the Leoforos Stadium between Panathinaikos and PAS Giannina. The hosts looked a completely different side last weekend in beating Levadiakos than they did in all of last season. There was a confidence and belief in Andrea Strammacioni’s men that has been lacking in previous seasons. The Prasini will undoubtedly face a stern test this weekend and will want to rebound slightly after a disappointing home defeat to Ajax in the Europa League Thursday night.
PAS were fantastic in overcoming Atromitos last week 3-0. The movement of their attacking players was impressive for such an early stage of the season. The team showed quality in the Europa League qualifiers in the summer and on the basis of one display they should be in the European conversation once again this season. Giannis Petrakis will be sweating on the fitness of Themistoklis Tzimopoulos and Noe Acosta amongst the injury concerns.
atromitos - panetolikos
Traianos Dellas saw his Atromitos team suffer a 3-0 loss to PAS Giannina in round three of the Greek SuperLeague. And while the Athens side had some big issues at the back they actually did manage to create some good opportunities, which were ultimately all squandered. Back at home this weekend, the team will need to finish off those sorts of chances to find success and also solidify their backline. While the rest of the team is available for selection there are question marks for Dellas over the fitness of midfielder Javier Umbides. The Argentine is feeling the effects of a quad injury and is doubtful.
PAOK may have only defeated Panetolikos 2-1 on Sunday, however the Agrinio side were below par at Toumba. Giannis Mantzourakis admitted after the match that PAOK deserved to win by a bigger scoreline. There were holes everywhere at the back for Panetolikos and the news that Tasos Papazoglou will more than likely miss out at the weekend will not be what supporters want to hear. Mantzourakis also seems consigned to the loss of Stefanos Papoutsogiannopoulos for Sunday’s match.
kerkyra - larissa
For Kerkyra, points are a must in their second home match in a row as they welcome Larisa to the Kerkyra Stadium. A 1-0 setback to Platanias was a bitter pill to swallow. Michalis Grigoriou’s team was the marginally better side in that fixture, especially in the second half, but a lapse of concentration gifted an early goal.
There will be no Mathias Degra in Larisa’s line-up as they make the trip to Kerkyra. After a big mistake by the goalkeeper that led to Iraklis equalizing the Vissini’s first game 2-2, Degra fell out with major shareholder Alexis Kougias. The result was the cancellation of Degra’s contract after he was hit by Kougias after the match. The events caused quite a stir in Larisa with many supporters questioning the wisdom of having Kougias involved with the team. Besides the departure of Degra, Larisa will also be missing Ximo Navarro for the next month with a fracture.
iraklis - olympiacos
Paulo Bento and Olympiacos will look to keep their momentum going as they travel to Thessaloniki to face Iraklis. After a season that was teetering on disaster, two wins in the space of four days has given the Greek champions renewed confidence. A 6-1 clobbering of Veria on Matchday 3 of the SuperLeague was followed by a morale-boosting 1-0 win against Young Boys away from home. Suddenly, the Piraeus club has rediscovered their mojo. It will be interesting if Bento goes with the same line-up as the last two matches or if the likes of Kostas Fortounis and Tsori Dominguez will get playing time after not featuring against Young Boys.
A 2-2 draw away to Larisa was a good result for Nikos Papadopoulos’ Iraklis team in their first run out of the season. Tabbed by many as relegation certainties, Iraklis showed the sort of resolve against Larisa which they will need to avoid the drop. Papadopoulos has issued a public message for fans to come out in droves to support Iraklis against Olympiacos as he aims to create a daunting atmosphere.
asteras tripolis - paok
|Asteras Tripolis||12:30 PM||PAOK|
After losing to Panionios by three goals to begin the campaign, the problems only seem to worsen for Asteras Tripolis. Makis Chavos’ future at the club has already been brought into question which is never a good sign this early into a season. This weekend the team will prepare to host PAOK. Asteras will be without long-term absentees Kostas Triantafyllopos and Elini Dimoutsos. Another player not in the squad is injured Argentine midfielder Cristian Chavez.
On the other hand, PAOK are enjoying a good start to the season. There appears to be the solidity, creativity, and perhaps most importantly, the depth, that has all been missing from the club for many years. Vladan Ivic has seen his side win their first SuperLeague match of the season and also perform quite well in a 0-0 Europa League draw to Fiorentina on Thursday. It’s these sort of banana-skin fixtures that have undone PAOK title challenges in the past. The objective will be none other than the three points for PAOK in Monday’s lone match-up.