AEK boast tightest defence in Super League history
AEK Athens set another record in Saturday’s 1:0 victory over Apollon Smyrnis, with the Kitrinomavri earning a clean sheet to claim the best defence in the history of Greek football.
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In 30 Super League matches during the 2017/2018 season, AEK have conceded a mere 12 goals, in turn setting a new record at the top level. Previously, the best defensive showing was in the 1972/1973 campaign, when Olympiacos conceded on 13 occasions.
Three of those 12 goals were conceded against Olympiacos. Atromitos and Asteras Tripolis scored twice, and Xanthi, Panathinaikos, AOK Kerkyra, Panetolikos and PAS Giannina all registered one goal each. AEK used three different goalkeepers in the campaign, as Giannis Anestis, Panagiotis Tsintotas and Vasilis Barkas stood between the pipes.
AEK’s amazing defensive resistance signifies the success which the Enosis have enjoyed under Manolo Jimenez. Key centre-back Uros Cosic received a serious injury early in the season, but Ognjen Vranjes, Dmytro Chyrgynskiy and Vasilis Lampropoulos stepped up to the mark in the heart of defence, shutting the opponents down with solid displays.
NEVER SAY DIE ATTITUDE
Overall, AEK have only dropped two defeats in the Super League, and they came in 2017 against Asteras Tripolis (0:2) and Atromitos (0:1). 54-year old Jimenez installed a never-say-die attitude within the group, something which is proven by how many matches AEK saved from seemingly hopeless positions. The two away games against Panathinaikos and Olympiacos are perfect examples: deep into stoppage time, AEK were trailing 0:1 to the Greens, but Marko Livaja bagged an equaliser in the dying seconds to earn a point. In Piraeus, the Enosis pulled off one of the most memorable comebacks in recent memory, scoring twice in the final stages through Chygrynskiy and Giorgos Giakoumakis to seal a 2:1 win after going behind on 80 minutes.
TIGHT DEFENCE WITH ENTERTAINING FOOTBALL
Generally, teams which are stingy at the back play a boring, defensive style of game, but that can’t be said about AEK. Scoring 50 goals in the league, AEK love nothing more than to bomb forward, using attack-minded wing backs Michalis Bakakis, Helder Lopes and Rodrigo Galo to brilliant effect on the flanks. AEK are at their best when applying huge pressure on the opponents, often wearing other teams down with intense pressing. Lazaros Christodoulopoulos has enjoyed a renaissance, while Las Palmas pair Marko Livaja and Sergio Araujo formed a deadly combination up front. The latter became AEK’s top scorer in the Super League with 11 goals to his name.
GREEK CUP FINAL AND CONTRACT ISSUES
Moving forward, AEK are preparing for the Greek Cup final against PAOK in what promises to be a fiery encounter, especially taking into account recent events in Thessaloniki. There is some bad news for Enosis supporters though: Jimenez and Lazaros are out of contract this summer, and new deals are yet to be struck. If AEK are to kick on and perform well in the UEFA Champions League later in the year, those two simply have to stay with the Nea Filadelfeia club.