A Recipe from 2004 puts Atromitos Top
by Greg Gavalas
AGONAsport’s Greg Gavalas explains the similarities of the 2017 Atromitos squad. that currently leads the Greek Superleague table, and the miracle Greek team of Euro 2004.
Not that long ago I was able to watch Olympiakos vs Atromitos thanks to AGONAsport’s live Greek Football coverage, in Oz it's generally hard to get some matches that are not on cable TV and in that case, not on at some crazy hour of the morning.
I watched as at the time Atromitos was 3-4-0 and in past seasons this team usually played nice open football which was great to watch.
I can tell you now I was not impressed. Olympiacos dominated possession and at times Atromitos looked like Sunday footballers in terms of how easily some of their players were getting out muscled by the Champions League statured of Olympiacos players. For all their possession though, Olympiakos couldn't get even close to troubling Atromitos goalkeeper, 24-year-old Andreas Gianniotis, ironically on loan from Olympiacos, granted Uros Djurdjevic was Olympiacos’ striker for this one and easy pray for Atromitos’ two center backs – Spiros Risvanis and Dimitris Chatziisaias.
As the game went on, Atromitos attack had an extra gear in it and the speed and passes started to build confidence in the visitors and before you know it, bang! A goal to Kyrgiakos Kivrakidis with a wonderful header thanks to a great run and cross from Egyptian International Amwar Warda. Watching the game pan out, there was a touch of something in this... something very similar to a big feat 13 years ago... It was very Greece 2004!
Three week later and the team from Peristeri, in the North West of Athens finds themselves leading the Greek Super League (GSL) and you have to give credit to its staff, its coach, 47-year-old Austrian Damir Canadi who has stepped out of his homeland for the first time to set a few decent records which we will go over soon, and of course the players.
Most Greek clubs that enjoy success be, domestically or in Europe, usually have something in common. They have a team that is predominantly Greek, with good Greek talent that is mixed with only some very good international talent and that is what this Atromitos team has.
The mix is working very well, Atromitos was able to defeat AEK Athens in the Olympic Stadium in similar fashion to their win at the Karaiskaki, a 1-0 score line again, soaking up the pressure and scoring a good counter attack goal thanks to Nigerian, Abiola Dauda, who volleyed home a cross from Theodoros Vasilakakis.
AEK threw everything at the boys in blue and did get close to scoring numerous times but goal keeper Gianniotis was up to the task.
What was another very "Greece 2004" effort, with the performance of their center backs again,
Risvanis and Chatziisaias mimicking a Dellas-Kapsis combination.
Risvanis is a well-known Greek talent, a product of the Panathinaikos academy, he spent a couple of seasons with the Green's before being shipped off to Panionios, to many one's surprise, Panionios sold him to local rivals Atromitos and he has not set a foot wrong. In the match with AEK, he easily disposed of one cross after another from the home team.
Atromitos has two great wing backs, very much like Fyssas and Seitaridis of 2004. On the right Dimitris Giannoulis fits the Fyssas (Fyssas was left) mold, a little clumsy at times but a solid wing back that can get forward and whip in a nice cross.
On the right, Kivrakidis, the goal scorer vs Olympiacos, I have watched him play over the years and have put his name with the national team a few times. He is a great player that loves to run aka Seitaridis and has a great eye for goal with good skill. A product from the Iraklis academies, he is 25 and I am surprised one of the "big" clubs has not picked him up, he has been with Atromitos since 2013.
The midfield is led by Vasilakakis, he signed for Peristeri after 7 years with Xanthi and the signing caught my eye. The 29 year old is a very good player and lead Xanthi to some great results in all those years, don't forget Xanthi has been a very strong performer most seasons in the GSL and it's clear Vasilakakis has had a leading hand in this. It's cases like this that sometimes get me wondering with the Ethniki, here is a player that plays week in week out, yet we only draw on guys like Alexandros Tziolis and Yiannis Maniatis for the national team. Vasilakakis, is the Zagorakis of Atromitos.
With him in midfield, veteran Argentine Javier Umbides is still going strong at 35 years young, he has also been with the club since 2013 and he is joined by two other foreigners that run all day, in Brazilian Madson (26) and Egyptian International Warda, who will be travelling to Russia in 2018 for the World Cup with the national team. Warda only had 10 games at PAOK last season but has really featured for Atromitos in attack. Complementing the trio is Frenchman Nicolas Diguiny, he prospered with Panthrakikos a couple of seasons back and looks to be back in career best form at 29.
Up front Giorgos Manousos is impressive, at 29 he seems to get better with age, a good player that can hold up the ball well and can certainly finish. Dauda (29) is the other striker who scored against AEK.
You can see it’s a mature and well mixed squad with plenty of Greek talent and good foreigners.
Atromitos stunning start has them on a 4-4-0 record, only 9 goals scored but only 3 conceded.
Some records to note
- Their win over AEK was their first ever away with over the Enosis, previous record was 4 draws and 11 defeats
- It's the first time the club has recorded 6 straight clean sheets
- Atromitos is only the 3rd club in Greek football history to beat both AEK and Olympiacos away from home (only Panathinaikos x4 and Apollon Athinon x1 have ever done that)
- Not since November 7, 2015 has Atromitos lost a match where they have scored first (last time vs Panathinaikos 1-2)
Not a bad record for the club, can they continue this amazing run? Anything is possible this season in the closest season we have seen in a very long time. I have no doubt their defense will be strong but can they continue the 1-0 wins? Time will tell, if they take their chances, a miracle could be in the works.