- Top Six Aim to Stay Perfect -
(Matchday 5 Preview)
Matchday 5 of the Greek SuperLeague sees six teams putting their perfect records on the line. This is the first time in SuperLeague history that the ‘Big 4’ (Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, PAOK, and AEK) have all won their first two matches. Add to this the likes of Panionios and Platanias and it has been a remarkable start for these six teams in the new campaign.
It may be too early to draw conclusions, however it already seems as though it will be a closely contested battle in the top half of the table. This weekend Olympiacos and Panathinaikos both have tricky away tests to negotiate while PAOK and AEK return home for their matches. Olympiacos travel to Thessaly to take on Larisa, while Panathinaikos are in Agrinio to face off against Panetolikos.
PAOK will be massive favorites against a struggling Xanthi side who are point-less. AEK host Iraklis in hopes of making it three in a row.
In what appears to be one of the most evenly matched games of the weekend, PAS Giannina and Platanias clash at Zosimades.
Elsewhere, Panionios take on Veria with the Nea Smyrniotes heavily favored to pick up their third win. In a battle of two teams without points, Atromitos and Asteras Tripolis meet up in Peristeri. Atromitos are looking for a new manager after Traianos Dellas became the first SuperLeague managerial casualty of the season this week. Finally, Levadiakos will be aiming for their first points of the season when they play Kerkyra on Sunday.
*For the full SuperLeague schedule click here or visit the Greek SuperLeague home page. For TV Listings of this weekend's games (and more) in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Greece visit our TV Listings's page.
PAS GIANNINA - PLATANIAS
|PAS Giannina||9:00 AM||Platanias|
At Zosimades, PAS Giannina host Platanias to open up Matchday 5. Platanias have been one of the early stories of the season having won their first two matches. Giorgos Paraschos’ side were highly impressive in the first half of last weekend’s match versus Levadiakos as they raced out to a 3-0 lead. However, a lax second half performance allowed Levadiakos back into the game before Platanias eventually held on. The Chania club will be without the services of defender Vitaliy Pryndeta this weekend as he continues his attempt to reach full fitness.
Giannina will be without Noe Acosta for the next six weeks. One of the team’s most influential players, Acosta was injured last week against Panathinaikos. Also missing for the Gianniotes will be goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis who was red carded for handling outside the box in that same match.
PANIONIOS - VERIA
Besides Platanias, Panionios have been the feel good story of the new SuperLeague season. Playing some great football, Vladan Milojevic’s team have maximum points after two matches. Talk of a European place may be somewhat premature at this early stage, however the performances suggest this is a side that could really impress this year.
Panionios will be the heavy favorites this weekend against a Veria side who has had plenty of early season struggles. Veria have had to play Olympiacos and AEK in the first two matchdays so their start to the new campaign has certainly not been an easy one.
PANETOLIKOS - PANATHINAIKOS
Panetolikos return home this weekend after securing their first ever win in Attica following last week’s triumph over Atromitos. An in-form Panathinaikos side come to Agrinio though and the hosts will have it all to do in order to keep their winning ways intact. Giannis Matzourakis will be without the injured trio of Tasos Papazoglou, Stefanos Papoutsogiannopoulos, and Stathis Vasiloudis.
The Prasini also have some late injury worries. Sebastian Leto will miss out after pulling his hamstring at the end of Thursday’s training session. Niklas Hult is also set to miss the match with a groin strain. Lucas Villafanez left the same training session, however it is expected he will be included in the squad. Panathinaikos striker Marcus Berg signed a new contract this week which will certainly be a lift to everyone around Paiania.
PAOK - XANTHI
If PAOK didn’t have a three point reduction, they too would be in a six-way tie atop the SuperLeague standings. Regardless, the signs from Vladan Ivic’s side have been promising in the early days of this campaign. O Dikefalos tou Vorra are coming off a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Asteras Tripolis, a traditionally difficult place for the Thessaloniki club to come away with points from.
PAOK take on an embattled Xanthi team on Sunday at Toumpa. Chants of discontent emerged from the home fans last week as they watched Xanthi go down 2-0 to Panionios. Razvan Lucescu is already under pressure a mere two matches into the season. Another defeat could spell trouble for the Romanian boss for sure.
ATROMITOS - ASTERAS TRIPOLIS
|Atromitos||11:15 AM||Asteras Tripolis|
Two sides desperate for their first points of the season clash at the Peristeri Stadium. A home loss last weekend to Panetolikos left Atromitos without a single point this season and cost Traianos Dellas his job. Dellas became the first SuperLeague boss to be sacked this season and Atromitos are rumored to be looking for a foreign replacement.
Coming to Peristeri on Sunday is another side feeling the heat. Asteras Tripolis are reeling from defeats to PAOK and Panionios in the last two weeks. For a team tabbed to challenge for a European place, Asteras have disappointed mightily thus far and manager Makis Chavos is under the microscope in this match.
LEVADIAKOS - KERKYRA
Levadiakos will have to step up their defensive game if they are to find success against visitors Kerkyra this weekend. Ratko Dostanic has seen his men give up three goals in both of their first two fixtures. That type of rearguard action is sure to keep the Livadeia side from getting points and the improvement needs to be very fast otherwise a relegation battle is on the cards.
Kerkyra performed quite well in last week’s 2-0 win over Larisa. Micahlis Grigorious set his team out in a very organized manner as his side bounced back from a disappointing opening day defeat to Panetolikos.
larissa - olympiacos
Larisa host Olympiacos at the AEL FC Arena in Sunday’s late match. The Vissini are experiencing some growing pains in their return to the top-flight. Aggelos Anastasiadis was critical of his team’s defensive performance against Kerkyra last time out. In truth, Larisa offered precious little in attack and never threatened to get back into the match after going down 2-0 in the first half.
It won’t get easier this weekend either as defending champions Olympiacos come to town. Paulo Bento saw his team undergo a first 45 minutes of struggle last weekend against unfancied Iraklis. However, a good second half response propelled the Erythrolefki to a comeback 2-1 win. The absence of Kostas Fortounis from the match squad caused some discussion, though it appears as though the Greek international will be recalled for this match. Bento is ready to ring the changes for this match as the likes of Alaixys Romao and Sasa Zdjelar rumored to feature for the first time this team.
aek - iraklis
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos is set to make his debut on Monday when AEK welcome Iraklis to the Olympic Stadium. Injury has kept Lazaros from appearing in the yellow and black thus far, but he has regained fitness and should feature. Temur Ketsbaia’s team have had a solid start in their first two games and are coming off a 2-0 win away to Veria. They will however not be able to count on Petros Mantalos. The Greek international broke his nose this week and will surely miss the Iraklis match and it will be a race against the clock whether he can play against Olympiacos next weekend in the first major derby of the season.
Iraklis were expected to be sure relegation candidates by most observers ahead of the season. Thus far, Iraklis only have a point from two matches, however the performances from the team have been spirited. An unlucky moment from a handball that led to a penalty undid Nikos Papadopoulos’s team last weekend against Olympiacos. Though the club is in financial limbo and few players were brought in during the summer, there has been a willingness to fight and the Giraios have shown they will be no pushovers regardless of the problems off the pitch.
Image Source: inpaok.com
by: Giorgos Tsitsonis. Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org