Bakasetas taking on role as AEK leader
It’s been a testing few weeks for reigning Greek champions AEK Athens, but in recent matches, Anastasios Bakasetas has created headlines with his superb displays. AGONAsport investigates further.
Early autumn was always going to be a demanding run for AEK. Faced with the task of playing Ajax, PAOK, Benfica and Olympiacos in extremely close proximity, the club’s resources were stretched to the limits, and it must be said that the Enosis struggled by only gaining one point in those matches. Nevertheless, despite the underwhelming results, the performances of forward Anastasios Bakasetas have been a major plus point. So far, the 25-year old has scored three Super League goals in just six matches, with all of his markers crucial for the Athenians.
Back on September 15, Bakasetas notched his maiden goal of the domestic championship, cutting to the edge of the penalty area and sliding in the second marker of the 4:0 victory against Panionios at the Olympic Stadium. Until Bakasetas sealed the deal with his clever goal, visitors Panionios were certainly in with a shout of making AEK’s life difficult, but the Nea Smyrni outfit failed to recover from that setback and conceded a further two from Viktor Klonaridis. In a respectable stance, Bakasetas refused to celebrate the goal against his former club where he enjoyed a successful spell between 2015 and 2016.
Following a bitter 0:2 defeat at the hands of arch rivals PAOK, the Kitrinomavri got back to winning ways in the Super League, thrashing OFI 3:0 in Heraklion. On 20 minutes, Bakasetas broke the deadlock with the decisive goal against the Cretans, getting on the scoresheet with a powerful, stinging drive from distance. When the ball hit the net, he admirably charged over to Vasilis Lampropoulos, showing his support for the defender after the latter committed two sloppy mistakes in Thessaloniki.
His most important goal arrived on Sunday. Eager to recuperate after a heartbreaking defeat against Benfica in the UEFA Champions League, AEK welcomed Olympiacos to the OAKA, a rivalry which always promises fireworks. In the first half, the hosts held the initiative, but their intensity dropped in the second half and Konstantinos Fortounis gifted Olympiacos the lead with a stunning attempt. An AEK side devoid of attacking ideas seemed to be heading towards another miserable loss, but in the final minute of play, Bakasetas rose highest to glance Rodrigo Galo’s deflected cross beyond Andreas Gianniotis’ despairing dive. A hugely meaningful goal which salvaged a big point.
A true team player, Bakasetas constantly mentions the importance of simply helping AEK win matches, always sticking up for his teammates (examples are Klonaridis, Lampropoulos) when they receive criticism and coming across as a positive figure within the team. His bond with boss Marinos Ouzounidis is helping his cause too. At Panionios, the two worked together for the 2015/2016 campaign, and Bakasetas is once again flourishing under the 49-year old’s guidance. Instead of playing as the second striker, Bakasetas is mainly assigned the role of a winger, able to make dangerous runs forward, swing crosses in and create passing plays. The Greek international played a fantastic pass to the onrushing Klonaridis in the Champions League battle against Benfica to send him clean through and displayed his poacher’s instincts to move into the open space when scoring in the 1:1 draw with Olympiacos. It’s worth noting his goal in the 2:1 win over Vidi in the Champions League playoffs too.
In worrying news for AEK fans, Bakasetas’ contract expires in June 2019 and the club are yet to offer him a new deal. In order to avoid problems when the current season reaches its completion, the Enosis would be well advised to get negotiations started.
by Shaun Nicolaides
Image Source: to10.gr