-- First Derby of the Season --
(Matchday 6 Preview)
Matchday 6 of the 2016/17 Greek SuperLeague will bear witness to the first derby of the new season. The AGONAsport Game of the Week is none other than Olympiacos versus AEK. The two title challengers will do battle in Piraeus renewing their longtime rivalry. The last meeting between the two sides occurred last May when AEK defeated Olympiacos 2-1 to lift the Greek Cup.
Both sides tasted disappointment last weekend in league action and will be eager to claim a big win to propel them forward in what already appears will be a close title race this season. Such is the pressure on both sides that a loss could put them into crisis mode, especially concerning Olympiacos, who come into the match on the back of two defeats in their last two matches in Greece and in Europe.
Panathinaikos will look to capitalize on the result of the derby when they take on Asteras Tripolis, the only club without a point after three matches. PAOK will be favored, but should careful in taking on an unpredictable Veria side away.
Surprise team and joint leaders at the top of the standings, Platanias, host a tough home test against Panetolikos. In Thessaloniki, an attractive fixture is on the cards with Iraklis taking on Panionios.
Matchday 6 kicks off on Saturday with Kerkyra and PAS Giannina facing off, to be followed by an evenly-matched fixture pitting Levadiakos against Larisa.
Finally on Monday, Xanthi and Atromitos tangle in a match where both sides will expect points.
*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 - AEK
Olympiacos and AEK square off in the first Greek SuperLeague derby of the season. One of Greek football’s most highly anticipated matches every season has even more weight this at the moment. With Olympiacos looking vulnerable this season, the expectation is that the title race will be wide open with AEK amongst the contenders.
Olympiacos lost their first league match of the season away to Larisa last weekend. Paulo Bento came under heavy criticism for fielding a 4-4-2 against Larisa which was not effective. The call from supporters is for a return to the side for the likes of Kostas Fortounis and Marko Marin. Even though both of those creative influences were in the mix on Thursday evening against APOEL in the Europa League, the Erythrolefki were beaten 1-0. Two losses in the matter of days is considered something of a crisis for a club like Olympiacos and it will be interesting to see how they respond on Sunday versus AEK.
Ticket sales have been brisk for the match at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium and the home support will hope to give their side a lift after an underwhelming start to their campaign. However, a third straight defeat in all competitions would certainly bring out the boo boys and could have Bento on the ropes as far as his job is concerned.
Temur Ketsbaia, like Bento, was also criticized for his team’s performance in last week’s 0-0 draw with Iraklis. With Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, and PAOK all having dropped points, AEK could have been standing alone on top of the SuperLeague with a win, yet the team were uninspired against heavy underdogs Iraklis. The lack of creativity will have caused concern in some quarters as AEK threatened to score on only a couple of occasions.
AEK pair Hugo Almeida and Ronald Vargas look set to miss out on Sunday’s derby. This will be a big blow for an AEK, who showed on Monday they desperately need more attacking incisiveness. The good news for Temur Ketsbaia is the return of Petros Mantalos, who will wear a protective mask due to his nose injury. And a further boost for AEK fans will be the apparent debut of Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. The 29-year-old is set to make his first start for AEK after coming on as a second half substitute against Iraklis.
KERKYRA - PAS GIANNINA
|Kerkyra||9:00 AM||PAS Giannina|
Kerkyra and PAS Giannina start things off on Matchday 6 with an early Saturday kick-off at the Kerkyra Stadium. Two defensive mistakes cost Michalis Georgiou’s side last week as Kerkyra went down to Levadiakos 2-1. A late fightback almost saw the Faiakes come away with a point, but deep into injury-time they were denied by the post.
Giannina meanwhile bounced back from a heavy defeat to Panathinaikos in Matchday 4 to draw 0-0 with Platanias a week ago. It was clearly an improved defensive performance for the Ajax tou Epirou; however they were unable to generate much in attack. PAS will be without the suspended Andi Lila, who was red-carded in last week’s match versus Platanias. Also missing for Giannis Petrakis is Alexios Michail (out until after the international break), though Themistoklis Tzimopoulos returns to the squad this weekend
LEVADIAKOS - LARISSA
Two teams coming off big wins clash in Livadeia as Levadiakos and Larisa meet on Matchday 6. Levadiakos rode a strong first half performance to defeat Kerkyra and claim their first win of the campaign. Now Ratko Dostanic’s side will look to make it two in a row against their opponents from Thessaly.
Larisa produced the shock of last weekend’s matches defeating Olympiacos 1-0 at the AEL FC Arena on a late goal by Nikos Golias. After surrendering meekly to Kerkyra the week before, Larisa’s strong performance certainly surprised. Aggelos Anastasiadis’ team fought well against Olympiacos showing a spirit that they will need to stay in the top flight and perhaps finish higher up the table. Goalkeeper Gennadi Xenodochof has been ruled out for three weeks meaning he will miss the trip to Livadeia
IRAKLIS - PANIONIOS
Iraklis welcome Panionios to the Kaftantzoglio Stadium in Saturday’s late match. Nikos Papadopoulos has changed the view of an Iraklis team that was expected to easily face the drop, but in their first three matches have shown they have what it takes to fight against it. A draw away to Larisa and a narrow defeat against Olympiacos was followed up with a creditable 0-0 draw last Monday away to AEK.
Panionios travel to Thessaloniki on the back of a frustrating Matchday 5. After impressing mightily in their first two matches of the season, the team self-destructed, losing to a previously pointless Veria side 2-1. Panionios have a difficult run of matches in the coming weeks and a win against Iraklis could see them regain confidence. There is good news for the club this week in that defender Vaggelis Oikonomou has signed a new contract that will see the 29-year-old remain at the Plateia until 2020
VERIA - PAOK
A rejuvenated Veria side await the arrival of PAOK in Sunday’s early kick-off. New manager Thomas Grafas will take his place on the bench for the first time for Veria after interim boss Apostolos Terzis oversaw last weekend’s 2-1 win over Panionios. Pablo Vitti’s brace in that match was the difference and the hope for Veria is that he can bring that form into the Veria Stadium against PAOK.
The Vasilissa tou Vorra has had a difficult start to the campaign with fixtures against Olympiacos, AEK, and Panionios already. PAOK will be another big test for Veria as the Thessaloniki giants aim to rebound from last weekend’s disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Xanthi. Vladan Ivic’s men endured a frustrating afternoon against their northern Greek rivals and could not find the goal that would make the difference. PAOK looked much better against Slovan Liberec on Thursday in Europa League play. O Dikefalos tou Vorra won 2-1 away and have made a solid start in the Group Stage of the continental competition.
PLATANIAS - PANETOLIKOS
Platanias are enjoying the best SuperLeague start in their history with seven points after three matches. They will do well to win on Sunday as a tough Panetolikos come to town. Panetolikos were successful in stymieing the Panathinaikos attack in their last match earning a 0-0 draw with the current league leaders. It’s clear, even in the early days of the season, that Giannis Mantzourakis is focused on having a well-drilled side keen on not giving anything away.
Platanias were themselves involved in a 0-0 match against PAS Giannina. On a terrible pitch at Zosimades, both teams had difficulties in creating anything noteworthy for most of the match. Despite losing Ousmane Coulibaly to Panathinaikos, arguably the team’s most important player last season, Platanias have been superb thus far. Giorgo Paraschos’ bunch, at the same stage last season, had zero points. With such a strong start, surely supporters will have hopes of a best-ever league finish, beating out the 2014-15 season when the club finished 7th in the SuperLeague
PANATHINAIKOS - ASTERAS TRIPOLIS
|Panathinaikos||11:15 AM||Asteras Tripolis|
Panathinaikos aim to stay atop of the standings when they welcome Asteras Tripolis to the Leoforos Stadium. With Olympiacos and AEK set to clash this weekend, Andrea Strammacioni’s team could put some distance between themselves and two of their main challengers for the title. Panathinaikos were disappointed in last weekend’s 0-0 with Panetolikos. The Prasini did create plenty of opportunities, but they were guilty of some wasteful finishing. It remains to be seen the effect of Thursday’s Europa League loss to Celta Vigo by a 2-0 scoreline. This was Panathinaikos’ second straight defeat in Europe after opening up with a loss to Ajax. Sebastian Leto is out through injury for PAO with the Argentine slated to return to full fitness after the international break.
The Dimitris Elefteropoulos era begins Saturday for Asteras Tripolis. The former Olympiacos, Roma, and AC Milan goalkeeper has been appointed as new manager taking over from the sacked Makis Chavos. Elefteropoulos takes over a side mired at the bottom of the Greek SuperLeague standings, without a point from their first three matches. ‘Ele’ couldn’t have picked a more difficult start to his time at Asteras as his new team make the trip to take on a much-improved Panathinaikos. Asteras will be without the suspended Matias Iglesias for this match.
XANTHI - ATROMITOS
Two teams seemingly on the up tangle in Monday’s lone match as Xanthi play host to Atromitos. Having lost their first two matches of the season, Xanthi faced a daunting trip to Toumba last weekend to face PAOK. Razvan Lucescu witnessed his team produce a battling display that earned them their first point of the season in a 0-0 draw. Xanthi will miss Dorde Lazic for this match after the Serbian midfielder was given a red card last week versus PAOK.
Traianos Dellas lost his job after Atromitos suffered defeats in their first two matches of the campaign. Last weekend, under caretaker boss Giorgos Korakakis, the team bounced back to defeat Asteras Tripolis 1-0 thanks to the SuperLeague goal of the week from Javier Umbides. While many managerial names have been rumored for the vacant full-time position, there appears to be growing calls for Korakakis to be given an opportunity. A positive result in Xanthi could go a long way in securing Korakakis the permanent job.
Image Source: inpaok.com
by: Giorgos Tsitsonis. Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org