Crucial Midweek Fixtures in Superleague (Matchday 27 Preview)
With four matches remaining in the 2016/17 season, the Greek SuperLeague returns this week with a crucial midweek slate for Matchday 27. Top billing must be reserved for the clash between Panionios and Panathinaikos at the Leoforos Stadium. It’s 4th versus 2nd in this tie between two of the league’s in-form sides.
One of the biggest matches on the schedule takes place at the other end of the table. Iraklis face just about a must-win when they host Levadiakos on Wednesday in a relegation six-pointer that could decide the fate of the Thessaloniki side especially.
Olympiacos go to Kerkyra aiming to keep their six-point lead intact. Platanias and AEK square off in a match with major playoff implications. The matches kick off early Wednesday with Xanthi and Panetolikos meeting up. PAOK play later in the day and are away to Atromitos.
Veria play perhaps their last hand at staying up with a home match against PAS Giannina. Asteras Tripolis are away to Larisa with both sides they are not yet mathematically safe from relegation.
***For the full SuperLeague schedule click here or visit the Greek SuperLeague home page for more. For TV Listings of this weekend's games (and more) in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Greece visit our TV Listings's page. All time are listed in EST, which is SEVEN hours BEHIND the local Greek time.
GAME OF THE WEEK: panathinaikos - panionios
It should be a high-quality match-up when Panathinaikos and Panionios meet up on Thursday. Both teams are in fine form at the moment with Panionios refusing to relinquish their stranglehold on second place and Panathinaikos playing their best football of the season as of late.
Panionios’ title chances have never been talked up too much, but should Olympiacos slip up any more than they already have then surely the Nea Smyrni club could capitalize. Even if the title is not a realistic target, Vladan Milojevic’s team have done more than enough this season to show they will be an extremely strong team in the playoffs. Panionios’ recent performances haven’t been top notch, however their attitude, commitment, and ability to grab results shows just how strong a side they are.
Panathinaikos were tipped to struggle down the stretch with consecutive matches against Olympiacos, AEK, Panionios, and PAOK. Marinos Ouzounidis’ side have already defeated Olympiacos and AEK to start this difficult four-match run in style. Should they take care of Panionios this week and then PAOK at the weekend then their momentum heading into the playoffs could make them the team to beat.
XANTHI - PANETOLIKOS
|Xanthi||8:00 AM (EST)||Panetolikos|
Indifferent Panetolikos travel to Xanthi in the match that kicks off Matchday 27. While Makis Chavos’ team have had no real drive in the last month or so having long since been assured of staying in the top division, the situation is completely different for Xanthi.
Razvan Lucescu’s team are in the midst of a fierce battle for 5th place. Currently, two points behind AEK, Xanthi could find themselves in a good position following this Matchday as Platanias and AEK play each other, and one or both are certain to drop points.
Christos Lisgaras misses out for Xanthi after a red card at the weekend against PAS Giannina. There are also questions about Karim Soltani’s injury after he limped off in Giannina on Saturday. Younes Hamza’s participation is also a question mark considering the small storm he caused with his attitude against PAS after he was substituted. For Panetolikos, Clesio is set for a return to the team after missing out against Asteras Tripolis due to a late return from international duty for Mozambique.
iraklis - levadiakos
|Iraklis||10:15 AM (EST)||Levadiakos|
It will have all the makings of a final when Iraklis and Levadiakos clash at the Kaftantzoglio Stadium on Wednesday. Iraklis are currently three points from safety with Levadiakos directly above them in the standings. Both teams are coming off weekend wins giving them momentum heading into this crucial fixture.
Iraklis have fought bravely against the drop all season considering their vast financial problems. In fact, the club face a points deduction this week if the board are unable to find money. That would basically deem this match null and void, but the hope is that whatever the club’s fate it will be determined on the pitch and not off of it.
For Levadiakos, they desperately need something from this match. Even though the club are three points ahead of Iraklis, their final three matches of the season are against AEK, Olympiacos, and Panionios. It’s difficult to see the Levadia side claiming much from those fixtures.
atromitos - paok
|Atromitos||10:15 AM (EST)||PAOK|
PAOK seek to keep their lock on 3rd place with an away trip to Atromitos. Vladan Ivic’s men are coming off a 2-0 win over Larisa. Supporters were unhappy at the team’s display however in the second half of that match and made their feelings known. A late goal seemed to placate the fans, but it was an indication of the expectation surrounding this side.
Atromitos did well to come back into their game against Panionios on Sunday, but they were unable to find an equalizer and went down 2-1. Ricardo Sa Pinto’s return to the club has given the team a boost, but recent defeats have ended any lingering playoff hopes. The focus now must be on 8th place and trying to finish above PAS Giannina who are also on 35 points.
Stefanos Athanasiadis and Ioannis Mystakidis are expected to be available for selection after both players left the Larisa match with injuries. Atromitos welcome back Alexandros Katranis to the fold after the 18-year-old was given a rest for the match against Panionios due to his recent fixture build-up.
larissa - asteras tripolis
|Larissa||10:15 AM (EST)||Asteras Tripolis|
Iraklis versus Levadiakos may be the big relegation battle of the midweek matches, but Larisa and Asteras Tripolis also face off in a crucial match at the AEL FC Arena. While both sides are inching away from the drop zone (Larisa/5 points above relegation places, Asteras/4 points), a defeat for either side at this stage could still spell trouble especially if Iraklis were to defeat Levadiakos.
Borislav Jovanovic picked up an injury for Larisa against PAOK on Sunday. The club captain is expected to not be ready in time for this game against Asteras. For Staikos Vergetis, there are no real issues ahead of this match and he will be able to call upon Kostas Triantafyllopoulos after the defender played 48 minutes this past weekend in his first action since a knee injury at the start of the campaign.
veria - pas giannina
|Veria||10:15 AM (EST)||PAS Giannina|
Veria’s season hangs in the balance after this weekend’s defeat to Levadiakos. Now, every game is a must-win for Ratko Dostanic’s team. This includes Wednesday’s home game against PAS Giannina.
If Veria are now to avoid relegation from their current position of last place in the league and six points from safety, the club must win at least three from their last four and potentially that still won’t be enough.
PAS Giannina managed a goal at the death to avoid a home defeat to Canthi this weekend. That point doesn't do much for a playoff berth, a target that has long since passed for Giannis Petrakis and his players. An 8th-placed finish is about the best Giannina can hope for now.
Themistoklis Tzimopoulos is set to miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury picked up against Xanthi. The extent of the defender’s injury is not yet know, but he will definitely miss the trip to Veria.
kerkyra - olympiacos
|Kerkyra||12:30 PM (EST)||Olympiacos|
Once considered a difficult place to play this season, leaders Olympiacos should be looking forward to their trip to Kerkyra on Wednesday night. Michalis Grigoriou’s side have done well to place in the top 10 so far this season. However, two recent heavy defeats have cast a shadow on an otherwise successful campaign for the Faiakes. A 4-0 defeat at Veria was followed up last weekend with a 3-0 reverse to Iraklis as Kerkyra’s lack of motivation appears to be showing in these final matches of the season.
Olympiacos meanwhile came back from a goal down to defeat Platanias 2-1 on Saturday in Takis Lemonis’ first match in charge since coming back to the club. That result kept their six-point lead at the top of the standings intact. Lemonis brought Marko Marin back in from the cold and the Germany playmaker repaid his faith with a goal on Saturday and a good performance. Two victories will clinch the title for Olympiacos which means a win at Kerkyra could see them celebrate their 7th straight championship as early as this weekend if results go their way.
platanias - aek
|Platanias||12:30 PM (EST)||AEK|
Platanias could make a decisive final push for the playoffs when they take on AEK at home in Thursday’s second match. Just two points separate Platanias from AEK in 5th place meaning a win would see them leapfrog their opponents and put them into pole position with three matches to play.
Giorgos Paraschos’ men went down to Olympiacos at the weekend, but perhaps deserved more from that fixture. At home, Platanias have lost only once this season, which doesn’t exactly bode well for an AEK side who have only won three away matches all season. Paraschos does have some selection headaches in what amounts to Platanias’ match of the season thus far. Christos Karipidis, Giorgos Giakoumakis, and Giorgos Manousos are all nursing slight knocks from the weekend match against Olympiacos. Though all have chances to play, Paraschos will have to wait as close as possible to the match to make the final decision.
AEK endured heartbreak on Sunday losing the Athens derby to Panathinaikos on a last minute goal. Still, some of the focus at training this week has been on the team’s positive run since Manolo Jimenez took over in January. Sunday’s defeat was the first for Jimenez in his second stint with the club. AEK still have a hold on 5th place and even a draw in Crete would be an okay result for the Kitrinomavri as they will hold the keys to their destiny heading the season’s final three matches.