Dikefalo Derby Highlights Weekend Action
(Matchday 24 Preview)
With seven matches remaining in the 2016/17 Greek SuperLeague season, there is plenty left to fight for in the league including a revival of the title race. Olympiacos look to bounce back from three straight league defeats as they host Atromitos at the Georgios Karaiskakis on Sunday. Should the league leaders slip up yet again, then the likes of Panionios, PAOK, and even Panathinaikos will be looking to bridge the gap this weekend.
Panionios play Larisa on Saturday hoping to heap some pressure on Olympiacos as they are now just six points behind the Erythrolefki. PAOK, eight points behind, head to Athens for a Monday night derby against AEK in the AGONAsport Match of the Week. That derby also has huge significance for AEK who are fighting to get into the playoffs. Panathinaikos head to Thessaloniki to take on an Iraklis side desperate for points.
One of the most crucial matches of the weekend comes Sunday in Levadia as Levadiakos and Asteras Tripolis contest a match with relegation implications.
The weekend kicks off with PAS Giannina hosting Panetolikos in a meeting of midtable teams. Finally, Xanthi will be seeking to hold on to 5th place with a victory away to Kerkyra while Platanias try to hold off bottom side Veria at home.
***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. All time are listed in EST, which is 7 hours BEHIND the local Greek time (On Sunday due to the time change EST will be 6 hours behind the local Greek time).
GAME OF THE WEEK: aek - paok
|AEK||1:30 PM (EST)||PAOK|
The biggest match of the weekend takes place on Sunday night as the Dikefalo derby pits AEK against PAOK. The AGONAsport Match of the Week could have a big effect on the playoffs and even the title race depending on other results.
AEK, much improved under the stewardship of Manolo Jimenez, is looking good at the moment and were able to pick up a point against Panionios last week away from home. While, that was not a bad result, especially considering Panionios’ superb season so far, the points dropped left AEK two off of 5th place. This means if AEK lose this weekend and Xanthi win, AEK will be five points off the playoff places with six matches left. That is speculation for the moment, but it shows that AEK will now have extra pressure on their shoulders heading into the final stretch.
PAOK looked impressive, especially in the second half, of their 2-0 derby win over Olympiacos last Sunday. That was the start of a very difficult stretch of league fixtures for Vladan Ivic and his players. Ivic, who just celebrated one year as the club’s manager, will need to prepare his team for a series of important matches in the coming weeks. Besides Olympiacos last week and AEK on Monday, PAOK is set to play both Panionios and Panathinaikos in the next few Matchdays. It will be a challenging prospect even for a team that has been in such good form.
For AEK, Ognjen Vranjes is set to make the squad after battling injury during training this week. However, the Kitrinomavri will be without Hugo Almeida as well as long-term absentees Michalis Bakakis and Dmytro Chyrgrynskiy.
Stelios Malezas participated in training this week and is fully fit meaning he will likely feature on Monday evening at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
PAS GIANNINA - panetolikos
|PAS Giannina||8:00 AM (EST)||Panetolikos|
PAS Giannina appear to be playing for pride as they prepare to host Panetolikos this weekend. Giannis Petrakis has had his side amongst the playoff places all season, however since 2017 began PAS have lost form. Last week’s 1-1 draw at Larisa seemed to seal the club’s exit from the playoff race. Having gone winless in their last five matches and now seven points off of 5th place, surely now Giannina are playing for highest possible league position rather than challenging for the playoffs.
Panetolikos are another team not in danger of relegation, but also not really ever seriously challenging higher than midtable this season. Last weekend’s 2-0 win over Levadiakos was a welcome result and the team appear to have improved since the appointment of Makis Chavos. Marko Markovski is set to miss this match after trying, but ultimately failing to participate in training this week.
panionios - larissa
|Panionios||10:15 AM (EST)||Larissa|
Panionios will try to keep their fledgling title challenge up when they take on Larisa on Saturday. The Nea Smyrniotes earned a credible 1-1 draw last week against AEK, a result that saw them move to within six points of leaders Olympiacos. Could another potential Olympiacos slip-up bring them closer this weekend? Certainly Vladan Milojevic’s team will be the heavy favorites against Larisa.
The visitors make the trip to Athens knowing full well their away day troubles. Larisa possess the league’s second worst away record. Sakis Tsiolis’ side are winless in 11 away fixtures this season, drawing four times and losing seven in those matches. Anything gained at Panionios would be welcome especially since Larisa are still on the outer fringes of avoiding relegation. Tsiolis won’t be able to select a number of players for this match. Injury and suspension robs the Larisa boss of seven players including Dodo, Tikito, Vasilis Rentzas, Andoni Fatjon, Pavol Farkas, Andreas Avraam, and Vasilis Koutsianikoulis.
iralkis - PANATHINAIKOs
|Iraklis||12:30 PM (EST)||Panathinaikos|
Iraklis’ survival hopes could receive a timely boost with a win over visiting Panathinaikos on Saturday evening. It won’t be an easy task however against Marinos Ouzounidis and company. Panathinaikos are coming off a 5-0 win over Veria. Ouzounidis has injected life into the team and Panathinaikos have been vastly improved as of late barring a tough result in Xanthi two weeks ago. There is some sweating over the health of Marcus Berg. The Swedish striker scored a hat-trick last week against Veria, but has been battling sickness this week. He does appear to have surpassed his problem and should start against Iraklis.
Iraklis have fought hard through many financial problems as they try to retain their top-flight status. Savvas Pantelidis’ men have had difficulty picking up points though even if their performances have been decent. An example of this was last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Atromitos which came through an injury-time winner for Iraklis’ opponents. Still, Iraklis have it all in their hands for the final seven matches and a victory in a match like this could set the tone for a push to avoid the drop. Pantelidis received bad news earlier in the week as defender Nikos Ziabaris was deemed unavailable for selection after losing a bid to regain fitness. Available again for Iraklis is the duo of Huanderson and Dimitris Stamou as they served their suspensions in last week’s match at Atromitos.
kerkyra - xanthi
|Kerkyra||9:00 AM (EST)||Xanthi|
Xanthi continue their pursuit for the playoffs with a trip to Kerkyra on Sunday. Razvan Lucescu has seen his team come up with two crucial wins over Panathinaikos and Platanias in the last couple weeks. Those six points have lifted the team up to 5th in the standings, two points clear of AEK.
Kerkyra are no pushovers at home and will provide a good measure of Xanthi’s playoff ambitions. The Faiakes concede less than a goal a game in their stadium and this has all the makings of a very tight match-up. Having only lost once in their last six, Kerkyra are looking to end the season on a high after doing enough in the last month or so to ensure a relegation fight would not have to occur.
olympiacos - ATROMITOS
|Olympiacos||11:15 AM (EST)||Atromitos|
Olympiacos need to shrug off their recent poor form ahead of their weekend match with Atromitos. Losers of three straight in the league for the first time since the 1995/96 season, Olympiacos are coming off a 1-1 draw with Besiktas on Thursday in the Europa League. While that home draw didn’t do the team many favors ahead of the return leg in Turkey next week, there was at least a greater degree of energy displayed than other recent performances. While Olympiacos’ schedule down the stretch isn’t extremely difficult (only one match remaining versus a top six side), the team can simply not drop any more points with in-form clubs such as Panionios and PAOK having now narrowed the gap.
Atromitos did well in two recent Greek Cup matches against Olympiacos even they ultimately went down 2-1 on aggregate. That Cup exit didn’t dampen spirits too much though as they bounced back to pick up a late win over Iraklis last week. Sa Pinto’s arrival has coincided with an uptick in form and Atromitos have an outside chance at the playoffs still. The remaining seven games however are extremely difficult with Atromitos playing most of the top six teams to close out the season.
Atromitos have no injury concerns going into this match. They will be without Kyriakos Kivrakidis however, who serves a suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.
PLATANIAS - veria
|Platanias||11:15 AM (EST)||Veria|
Struggling Veria need something to turn their season around as they get set to face off against Platanias this weekend. The trip to Crete for Ratko Dostanic’s men is surely going to be a difficult one, but the club are beginning to enter the last chance saloon as far as this season goes. Coming off a 5-0 hiding from Panathinaikos, the last-place team in the SuperLeague need to find some hope that they can still avoid the drop. A look at their last six matches however doesn’t make for easy viewing if you are a Veria fan. The Vasilissa tou Vorra have lost all six games in that time period, conceding 19 times and scoring one goal. Surely, those aren’t statistics of a team appearing ready to stay in the division.
For Platanias, only the three points will do in this game. After losing to Xanthi last week in a true playoff six-pointer, Giorgos Paraschos’ team now find themselves four points off the pace from the last playoff spot. With so many clubs fighting for the playoffs, Platanias are surely still in contention; however they must put together a good run during this final quarter of the season.
levadiakos - ASTERAS TRIPOLIS
|Levadiakos||1:30 PM (EST)||Asteras Tripolis|
A very important match with regard to the relegation battle takes place in Levadia on Sunday. Levadiakos and Asteras Tripolis clash in a match no one would have believed would have relegation implications earlier this season. Levadiakos started the season doing well for most of the fall, before they hit an absolutely dreadful run of form where they went winless in twelve matches. Asteras had a blip at the start of the campaign and then seemed to recover before once again starting to rack up the defeats.
The big news ahead of this one is the return of Staikos Vergetis to Asteras. The 40-year-old boss left the club last January after two and half years in charge where he brought the team into Europe. After a stint with Nea Salamina in Cyprus he is back in Tripoli. Vergetis’ job now amounts to a rescue mission as the team’s poor form has seen them drop to 13th, just five points above the drop zone.