Second Half of the Season Kicks Off
(Matchday 16 Preview)
The second half of the 2016/17 Greek SuperLeague begins on Wednesday as Matchday 16 commences around Greece. The match-ups will feel quite familiar with teams playing just two weeks ago against the same opponents due to the delayed Matchday 1.
On Wednesday, leaders Olympiacos face a big test in Tripoli when they take on an Asteras side in good form. Second place Panionios and Xanthi will want to take advantage of a potential slip-up at the top during the midweek fixtures. Panionios will have a difficult test away to PAS Giannina. Xanthi are the favorites to overcome bottom side Iraklis at home.
A big match with regard to the relegation zone is on tap for Wednesday when Veria host Larisa. Struggling AEK head to Panetolikos hoping to improve on recent results. Also on Wednesday, Atromitos welcome Kerkyra to Peristeri.
Two matches are slated for Thursday. PAOK host Levadiakos while Panathinaikos await the arrival of 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: ASTERAS TRIPOLIS - OLYMPIACOS
|Asteras Tripolis||12:30 PM||Olympiacos|
Asteras Tripolis look to claim another big scalp as they take on Olympiacos in Wednesday’s late kick-off. This has all the ingredients for a banana skin for the league leaders, who are coming off a 2-2 draw away to Platanias. Asteras’ home form is amongst the best in the league. Dimitris Elefteropoulos’ team have won only once in eight away trips this season, but at home the story is very different. Asteras have lost only once in seven matches at the Theodoros Kolokotronis. Their latest win was a 4-1 thumping of Panetolikos which was preceded by a 3-2 win over AEK. The Arkades have enjoyed a solid start to 2017 and will offer a big test to Paulo Bento’s team.
The 2-2 draw against Platanias seemed more like two points lost than one point gained for Olympiacos. The Erythrolefki raced out to a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes, but were pegged back by a battling Platanias side who ended up earning the draw. A 10-point lead at the top suggests Olympiacos are in a comfortable position, but more dropped points could see a little bit of doubt creep into the Piraeus side heading into the second half of the campaign. Karim Ansarifard looks set to feature in Tripoli with the new recruit showing his readiness in training this week.
ATROMITOS - KERKYRA
Atromitos will attempt to bounce back from disappointment last time out as they take on Kerkyra. The 2-1 defeat to Panionios at the weekend was not embarrassing, but Giorgos Korakakis did believe his players were not up for the match. The manager will want his men to respond in kind against Kerkyra. A victory will keep alive aspirations of a playoff spot.
Kerkyra did not play at the weekend due to the postponement of their match against Iraklis. Certainly, Michalis Grigoriou’s bunch will be well-rested, however they will also be missing a key cog in their team. Brazilian forward Thuram misses out on this fixture as he has been given a three-match ban due to violent conduct that earned him a red card against this same Atromitos side on Matchday 1.
PAS GIANNINA - PANIONIOS
|PAS Giannina||8:00 AM||Panionios|
Vladan Milojevic’s Panionios seek to make it two big away wins in a row when they travel to take on PAS Giannina. Panionios managed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Atromitos on Sunday which saw them maintain their hold on second place. It was further evidence that this team is for real and that a top 3 finish is a realistic target.
PAS Giannina’s form has been patchy as of late, but overall a strong season thus far sees them currently occupying 5th place in the standings. The question now being whether Giannis Petrakis and company can hold off the likes of AEK, PAOK, and even Platanias for a spot in the playoffs. A 2-0 loss to Xanthi was put down in part to bad luck by Petrakis. There are questions over the state of the pitch at the Zosimades Stadium which was snow-covered still on Monday.
PANETOLIKOS - AEK
Jose Morais must be pulling for his AEK side to put some victories together ahead of their visit Panetolikos on Wednesday. The Portuguese manager is certainly feeling the pressure at the moment and only a winning run will bring his job security back to stable. The 0-0 draw away to Panathinaikos in Sunday’s derby was not seen as negative result, but many AEK supporters lamented to lack of creativity and verve in the team. Those same fans will expect nothing less than victory against Panetolikos.
The big news coming out of Agrinio ahead of Panetolikos taking on AEK is that Giannis Mantzourakis has been let go as manager. After 15 months in charge, the veteran Greek boss was given the boot as the club have entered a difficult stretch. The team’s poor form doesn’t suggest a relegation battle just yet, but the board took the decision so as to reverse the team’s fortunes and solidify a midtable finish.
VERIA - LARISSA
Veria and Larisa meet for the second time in two weeks on Wednesday with both matches viewed as extremely important with regard to their respective SuperLeague fortunes. Larisa were victorious two weeks ago at the AEL FC Arena in a 2-1 comeback victory. Veria bounced back in their next match to grab a win so now they trail the Vyssini by only two points. A win over the visitors would then see Veria leapfrog them and climb to as high as 12th in the table.
Conversely, Larisa could take a giant step toward safe with a victory of their own. Claiming the three points would put them five ahead of Veria and allow themselves some breathing space. It’s difficult to keep up with all the transfers Larisa have made this January. The club have brought in a whole host of new players with some squad members having been off-loaded. Whether these wholesale changes will have the desired effect remains to be seen.
XANTHI - IRAKLIS
Xanthi will be confident of taking care of business as they welcome Iraklis on Wednesday. Razvan Lucescu’s have lost once in their last 13 league matches heading into this one. That lone defeat came at the hands of Olympiacos ten days ago, but there was a rebound win against PAS Giannina this past Sunday. Xanthi really look to be a solid unit this season with some creative attackers making them a real threat going forward.
Iraklis were not in action due to the cancellation of their match against Kerkyra over the weekend. Certainly, the Thessaloniki side would take a point against Xanthi if you consider how things stand in the table. Savvas Pantelidis is hoping for a fresh start for his side heading into the second half of the season. The expectation is that all four winter signings could feature against Xanthi including the newest arrival, Panathinaikos’ Christos Donis, who has signed a loan deal until season’s end.
PAOK - LEVADIAKOS
Can Levadiakos avoid a 7th consecutive defeat? That is the question as Giannis Christopoulos leads his team into Toumba on Thursday. From midtable solidity to a freefall down near the relegation zone, Levadiakos have certainly taken a plunge to the depths in the last two months. It doesn’t get any easier for the club in this midweek fixture.
There will be a small measure of hope for the Livadeia side that PAOK will continue their inconsistent performances. The end of 2016 and start of this year suggested PAOK had recovered from some poor form with a five match winning streak. Then Vladan Ivic’s side lost again at home in a 1-0 defeat by PAS Giannina. Dikefalos tou Vorra supporters will hope the signing of Aleksandar Prijovic offers more of a cutting edge to a side desperately needing it.
PANATHINAIKOS - PLATANIAS
Panathinaikos need to find the goals again if they plan on defeating Platanias on Thursday. Marinos Ouzounidis has shored up the defense since his appointment, but perhaps at a cost to the attack. The Prasini, coming off a 0-0 draw with AEK on Sunday, have scored a paltry three goals in their last six matches. The club have been heavily linked with Estudiantes striker Lucas Viatri, but there is no move at the moment. Surely, Marcus Berg needs to produce more as the team are so heavily reliant on his goals.
Panathinaikos were defeated by this Platanias side two weeks ago and would be wise not to underestimate this team again. Platanias took points off of Olympiacos at the weekend as they climbed to 7th in the standings. Giorgo Paraschos’ men showed serious mettle in that match. The real question is though whether this team can produce the goods outside of Crete. One win in seven away matches means that there is work to do away from home if Platanias are to seriously challenge for the top 5.