AEK-PAO preview: Enosis aim to pull away in top spot
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 26
|AEK||12:30 PM (EST)||Panathinaikos|
AGONAsport’s Shaun Nicolaides previews the headline Super League derby between AEK Athens and Panathinaikos.
Enjoying a superb season, AEK Athens find themselves within touching distance of a maiden Greek title for 24 years, leading the table by five points over second placed PAOK who have played an extra game. AEK know that if the club defeat Panathinaikos on Sunday, the Super League trophy will practically be in their hands.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that both PAOK and Olympiacos are appealing against points deductions which were given after scandalous events. One of them involved AEK, with the Enosis awarded a 3:0 away win over PAOK by the Disciplinary Committee. The match was originally abandoned in the final minute when PAOK president Ivan Savvidis made a pitch invasion with a gun stored around his waist. The Dikefalos tou Vorra were protesting the referee’s controversial decision to disallow a goal for offside with the score at 0:0.
Although not involved in the title race, Athenian giants Panathinaikos are motivated to give their long suffering supporters something to cheer about. Languishing in ninth position, the Greens require a victory to leapfrog Panetolikos and stay in contention for fifth place.
Despite their lowly position in the Super League table, Panathinaikos do have a habit for turning up in the big games. The Prasini held to AEK to a 1:1 draw at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, beat Olympiacos 1:0 at home and gained a 1:1 tie in Piraeus against the Thrylos.
Last season, Panathinaikos defeated AEK 3:2 at the Olympic Stadium in a thrilling Athens derby. Current AEK player Viktor Klonaridis scored in that particular match for Panathinaikos.
Manolo Jimenez cannot call upon the services of star forward Marko Livaja because of the Croat’s two-match ban for collecting seven yellow cards. Argentine Sergio Araujo trained separately during the week, but he’s been included in AEK’s match squad. Goalkeepers Panagiotis Tsintotas and Vasilis Barkas have regularly taken it in turns to start between the sticks, so it will be interesting to see who Jimenez picks.
Ukrainian defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy signed a new two-year contract with AEK on Friday.
Recently, Swedish striker Guillermo Molins finally made his long-awaited return from injury, participating in the 1:1 home draw with Asteras Tripolis. Greens boss Marinos Ouzounidis is without Omri Altman and Giannis Bouzoukis, but apart from those absentees, he has a full strength squad at his disposal. Brazilian forward Luciano is present in Panathinaikos’ roster for this match.
Tsintotas, Bakakis, Vranjes, Chyrgynskiy, Lopes, Simoes, Galanopoulos, Galo, Masoud, Bakasetsas, Araujo.
Vlachodimos, Johansson, Oikonomou, Avlonitis, Insua, Kourbelis, Kace, Lod, Coulibaly, Mounier, Molins.
11/03/2018, PAOK - AEK - 0:3* (Super League)
04/03/2018, AEK - Panionios - 1:0 (Super League)
01/03/2018, AEL - AEK - 2:1 (Greek Cup)
26/02/2018, Atromitos - AEK - 1:1 (Super League)
22/02/2018, Dynamo Kyiv - AEK - 0:0 (Europa League)
*-AEK awarded 3:0 win by the Disciplinary Committee, PAOK now appealing decision.
10/03/2018, Panathinaikos - Asteras Tripolis - 1:1 (Super League)
04/03/2018, Olympiacos - Panathinaikos - 1:1 (Super League)
24/02/2018, Panathinaikos - Lamia - 2:0 (Super League)
19/02/2018, AEL - Panathinaikos - 0:1 (Super League)
10/02/2018, PAS Giannina - Panathinaikos - 2:1 (Super League)
In pole position to claim the Super League championship, AEK can almost taste the champagne and looking at their schedule, this is surely the Enosis’ toughest fixture. Taking into account Panathinaikos’ disappointing away form (only one win on the road), hosts AEK will be confident of picking up a potentially decisive three points at the OAKA.
Panathinaikos are plagued by debts and threats of relegation, but their young squad is hungry to rain on AEK’s parade. The Greens will most probably sit back, invite AEK pressure and wait for their chances on the counterattack. Their excellent performance against Olympiacos in Piraeus suggests AEK won’t have an easy time of it.