AEK closing in on first title for 24 years
AEK Athens are rubbing their hands in glee, as recent events have propelled the Enosis to within touching distance of their first league title in 24 years.
The Athenian giants began the Super League season in fantastic fashion, opening up an early lead in first place after beating Olympiacos and PAOK at the Olympic Stadium in thrilling encounters. Juggling European football, the AEK train showed signs of faltering in December, but the Enosis recovered to open up a huge seven point advantage in first position of the table with only five games remaining.
However, AEK have received large help from scandals involving Olympiacos and PAOK. The Thrylos were given a three-point deduction when their fans charged onto the pitch after a defeat to AEK in Piraeus, while PAOK lost home matches to Olympiacos and AEK in court and had a further three points taken away for the chaos witnessed during the game with the Kitrinomavri in Thessaloniki. Both clubs are appealing the Disciplinary Committee’s decisions.
Nevertheless, neither Olympiacos or PAOK are willing to wave the white flag. On paper, Olympiacos have the easiest run-in, not playing any of the top five clubs in the Super League’s final weeks. AEK seemingly only have one challenging match against Panathinaikos, but PAOK have to take on Atromitos, Panionios, Xanthi and Panathinaikos in four of their last five games.
Schedule for the top three:
AEK - Panathinaikos, round 26
Platanias - AEK, round 27
AEK - Levadiakos, round 28
AOK Kerkyra - AEK, round 29
Apollon Smyrnis - AEK, round 30
Levadiakos - Olympiacos, round 26
Olympiacos - AOK Kerkyra, round 27
Apollon Smyrnis - Olympiacos, round 28
Olympiacos - Panetolikos, round 29
PAS Giannina - Olympiacos, round 30
Atromitos - PAOK, round 26
PAOK - Panionios, round 27
PAOK - Xanthi, round 28
Panathinaikos - PAOK, round 29
PAOK - Platanias, round 30
Current Super League standings:
AEK, 57 points*
Olympiacos, 50 points**
PAOK, 49 points***
Atromitos, 47 points
*-AEK awarded 3:0 win against PAOK but the latter are appealing the decision.
**-Olympiacos appealing decision to receive three-point deduction for fan trouble against AEK.
***-PAOK appealing decision to receive 0:3 defeat to AEK, three-point deduction from this season, three matches behind closed doors and two-point deduction for next season.
The winners of this year’s Super League will enter the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League’s third qualifying stage, with the second placed team making the second qualifying round. Olympiacos will consider it a tragedy if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, but PAOK feel it’s their turn to play in the continent’s biggest competition. AEK sit pretty in first place and are practically guaranteed Champions League football next season.