Greeks Abroad Season Review: How the leading lights performed in the 2017/2018 season

Greeks Abroad Season Review: How the leading lights performed in the 2017/2018 season
 


AGONAsport’s Shaun Nicolaides reviews how the leading Greek players performed in foreign leagues during the 2017/2018 season.

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In a tough campaign for Greeks abroad, many encountered medical and selection problems, but players such as Kostas Mitroglou, Panagiotis Retsos and Konstantinos Mavropanos did the country proud, representing Greece with relative success in their respective leagues. Nikolaos Karelis finally returned from injury with Genk, Andreas Samaris was barely used by Benfica, Kostas Manolas made history with AS Roma in Italy and Konstantinos Tsimikas caught the eye on loan at Willem II from Olympiacos.

Let’s take a closer look at how the leading lights performed:

Kostas Mitroglou (Marseille/Ligue 1): It was a mixed bag for the 30-year old forward in his debut season in Ligue 1, as injuries prevented him from reaching peak form. Nevertheless, towards the end of the campaign Mitroglou gathered pace and showed Marseille what he’s capable of, hitting the net with regularity to finish the year with nine goals in 19 championship matches. Next season, the Greek hitman will be hoping he can stay fit and not be so injury prone.

Ligue 1: 19 appearances, 9 goals, 0 assists
French Cup: 3 matches, 3 goals, 1 assist
UEFA Europa League: 7 matches, 0 goals, 0 assists

Andreas Samaris (Benfica/Portuguese Primeira Liga): To be honest, it turned out to be a thoroughly disappointing season. 28-year old midfielder Samaris fell out of favour at Benfica, registering only 511 minutes of game time during the entire campaign in the domestic league. He does have a year remaining on his Benfica contract, but if he is to return to his best, he could really do with finding a new challenge.

Primeira Liga: 18 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists
Portuguese Cup: 3 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
UEFA Champions League: 3 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund/German Bundesliga): The reliable centre-back was a key player for Borussia in defence, using his strength well to outmuscle opposing forwards and assert his authority. Dortmund endured a dreadful UEFA Champions League display, but Papastathopoulos is a wanted man in Europe, allegedly on the verge of joining Arsenal. According to media reports, Manchester United are also interested.

Bundesliga: 30 appearances, 3 goals, 0 assists
German Cup: 3 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
UEFA Champions League: 5 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists
UEFA Europa League: 4 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Panagiotis Retsos (Bayer Leverkusen/German Bundesliga): Arriving from Super League giants Olympiacos in the summer transfer window, the young Retsos threw himself into unchartered territory, but he impressed in Germany with some solid showings. Boasting huge potential, the Greek international defender is being watched by many of Europe’s top teams and is capable of achieving big things.

Bundesliga: 24 appearances, 1 goal, 3 assists
German Cup: 4 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Anastasios Donis (Stuttgart/German Bundesliga): Only 21 years of age, striker Donis didn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first season with Stuttgart, but he did well as an impact player and displayed glimpses of his talent. Incidentally, Donis’ best moment in the campaign came in the final match against Bayern in Munich, when he scored a stunning solo goal. Needs to play at a high level on a more regular basis.

Bundesliga: 18 appearances, 2 goals, 2 assists
German Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists

Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Hamburg/German Bundesliga): For the first time in the club’s proud history, Hamburg suffered relegation to the second division of German football after a dire season in the top flight. Still, Greek centre-back Papadopoulos can hold his head up high, doing his best to try and somehow protect Hamburg’s place among the elite. Following Hamburg’s demotion, Papadopoulos is expected to move.

Bundesliga: 29 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist
German Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists

Jose Holebas (Watford/English Premier League): A player who splits opinion, Greek right-back Holebas made four assists in the Premier League with Watford, firmly cementing his place in the starting line-up. Holebas did commit a number of poor errors though, notably giving away cheap penalties and has an unwanted habit of being careless when in possession.

Premier League: 28 appearances, 0 goals, 4 assists
FA Cup: 2 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Orestis Karnezis (Watford/English Premier League): The Ethniki Omada’s first choice goalkeeper began the season as Watford’s back-up, but after Heurelho Gomes’ injury, the Greek stepped in and earned four clean sheets in 15 Premier League matches. Rumours have strongly linked Karnezis with a return to his homeland with Olympiacos.

Premier League: 15 appearances, 24 goals conceded, 4 clean sheets
FA Cup: 1 appearance, 1 goal conceded, 0 clean sheets

Konstantinos Mavropanos (Arsenal/English Premier League): Without doubt, the 20-year old defender turned into the surprise of the season for Greek football fans. Mavropanos expected to be sent out on loan when he arrived at Arsenal from PAS Giannina in January, but former Gunners head coach Arsene Wenger believed in him, keeping the centre-back at Arsenal and handing him his senior debut in a headline match against Manchester United. One to watch next year.

Premier League: 3 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
Premier League 2: 5 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Kostas Stafylidis (Stoke City/English Premier League): In the winter, Stafylidis joined doomed Stoke City in England on loan from FC Augsburg, but that didn’t work out at all. In the end, the left-back was restricted to a mere five appearances, stranded on the sidelines with a serious chest injury and unavailable to save Stoke from relegation to the Championship.

Bundesliga: 2 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
Premier League: 5 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Stefanos Kapino (Nottingham Forest/English Championship): Goalkeeper Kapino was frozen out of the Olympiacos team early in the season, dropped by ex-boss Besnik Hasi after conceding three in a dramatic 2:3 derby loss to AEK Athens. In January, Kapino moved to Nottingham Forest looking for more playing time, but he only competed in four Championship matches. A nightmare campaign.

Championship: 4 appearances, 5 goals conceded, 2 clean sheets

Apostolos Vellios (Nottingham Forest/English Championship): If Kapino had a bad season, it was even worse for Vellios. Formerly in the plans of Ethniki head coach Michael Skibbe, the 26-year old never got going for Nottingham, receiving only a grand total of 359 minutes on the pitch and scoring the one goal along the way. Not his year.

Championship: 12 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists
FA Cup: 1 appearance, 1 goal, 0 assists

Kostas Manolas (AS Roma/Serie A): Maybe Greece’s most talented centre-back, Manolas enjoyed a decent season with Roma, clocking up the minutes and often in the starting line-up for the capital club. Unsurprisingly, Manolas’ stand-out moment came in the Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona, netting an incredible late header to seal an historic victory. Admired across Europe.

Serie A: 29 appearances, 2 goals, 0 assists
Italian Cup: 0 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
UEFA Champions League: 11 appearances, 2 goals, 0 assists

Vasilis Torosidis (Bologna/Serie A): Now 32, Torosidis is falling down the pecking order even at Bologna, almost always on the bench and only given 817 minutes in the Serie A campaign. He’s still Skibbe’s captain for the national team, but Torosidis’ best days seem to be behind him.

Serie A: 16 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
Italian Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists

Charalampos Lykogiannis (Cagliari/Serie A): Lykogiannis started the season with Sturm Graz in Austria, but he made a large step forward in his career in January, joining Serie A’s Cagliari. In 11 matches, Lykogiannis dished out a couple of assists, fitting into the Italian style of football and being a threat to the opponents on the left wing. 

Austrian Bundesliga: 17 appearances, 2 goals, 2 assists
Austrian Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists
UEFA Europa League: 4 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
Serie A: 11 appearances, 0 goals, 2 assists

Georgios Tzavellas (Alanyaspor/Turkish Superlig): Competing in his first full season with Alanyaspor, Tzavellas was one of the Turks’ most consistent performers, participating in 29 league matches to help preserve Alanyaspor’s spot in the Superlig. Tzavellas’ contract with Alanyaspor still has a year to go.

Turkish Superlig: 29 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
Turkish Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists

Giannis Maniatis (Alanyaspor/Turkish Superlig): Unlike Tzavellas, 31 year old Maniatis didn’t really find rhythm in Turkey, but he tried his best and even made three assists in 19 championship games. In accordance with his fellow Greek at the club, Maniatis’ agreement with Alanyaspor expires in summer 2019.

Turkish Superlig: 19 appearances, 0 goals, 3 assists
Turkish Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists

Georgios Samaras (Samsunspor/First League): The well-known lanky forward is still plying his trade, albeit in the second Turkish division with minnows Samsunspor. Unfortunately for the Greek, Samsunspor were relegated this season amid financial problems, but in an admirable gesture, Samaras refused to claim debts owed to him by the club because of his inability to keep Samsunspor in the First League.

First League: 25 appearances, 2 goals, 2 assists
Turkish Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists

Michalis Sifakis (Samsunspor/First League): Sifakis, the veteran goalkeeper, is a teammate of Samaras at Samsunspor and was trusted with guarding the club’s net in six league matches. He’s now out of contract at the financially troubled Turkish side and it’s not known where he will continue his career.

First League: 6 appearances, 10 goals conceded, 2 clean sheets
Turkish Cup: 1 appearance, 3 goals conceded, 0 clean sheets

Giannis Gianniotas (Valladolid/Segunda Division): The pacey attacking midfielder returned to Olympiacos last summer after a productive loan display at APOEL Nicosia, but the Thrylos weren’t convinced, sending Gianniotas to Spain’s Valladolid to prove himself again. At this moment in time, it’s unlikely that Gianniotas will be given a chance with Olympiacos.

Segunda Division: 26 appearances, 2 goals, 3 assists
Spanish Cup: 3 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists

Dimitris Siovas (Leganes/La Liga): Leganes finally signed Siovas on a permanent deal from Olympiacos in July 2017, a decision which the Spaniards don’t regret at all. In defence, Siovas rarely put a foot wrong for Leganes, playing in a mature manner and not giving opposing players free gifts. Scored the one goal at the end of the campaign.

La Liga: 24 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist
Spanish Cup: 6 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists

Giannis Fetfatzidis (Al Ahli/Saudi Professional League): In the 2017/2018 season, Fetfatzidis was certainly a valuable player for Al Ahli, but the once highly thought of midfielder wants to finally escape Saudi Arabia. Greek journalists are convinced Fetfatzidis is coming home, revealing that the tricky attacker is edging closer to an Olympiacos transfer.

Saudi Professional League: 26 appearances, 9 goals, 4 assists
Saudi Cup: 4 appearances, 2 goals, 1 assist
Asian Champions League: 2 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Alexandros Tziolis (Al Fayha/Saudi Professional League): The vastly experienced Tziolis kept Fetfatzidis company in Saudi Arabia, turning out for Al Fayha and popping up with two goals in the league. The 33-year old can pick out pinpoint passes and is still selected by Skibbe for the Greek national team.

Saudi Professional League: 25 appearances, 2 goals, 3 assists
Saudi Cup: 3 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Nikolaos Karelis (Genk/Jupiler League): Hampered by injury, Karelis got back to full fitness in 2018 and started several Jupiler League matches for Genk, earning four goals, three assists and netting the winning goal with Greece in a friendly triumph over Egypt. Time will tell if he stays at Genk or opts to move back to the Super League.

Jupiler League: 14 appearances, 4 goals, 3 assists
Belgian Cup: 2 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Carlos Zeca (Copenhagen/Danish Superliga): As a result of the financial crisis witnessed at Athenian club Panathinaikos, Portuguese born midfielder Zeca packed his bags and moved to FC Copenhagen in Denmark last summer. Copenhagen had a shocker of a domestic season, but Zeca wasn’t to blame for the club’s slack year.

Danish Superliga: 17 appearances, 2 goals, 3 assists
Danish Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 3 assists
UEFA Europa League: 5 appearances, 0 goals, 3 assists

Sotiris Ninis (Maccabi Petah-Tikva/Israeli Premier League): What exactly has happened to Ninis? It’s strange to think that just a few years ago, Ninis carried massive expectations as a Panathinaikos prospect and everyone thought he would become a special player. Sadly, Ninis flopped and struggles to make Maccabi Petah-Tikva’s roster.

Israeli Premier League: 7 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
Israeli Cup: 1 appearance, 0 goals, 0 assists

Stefanos Athanasiadis (Maccabi Haifa/Israeli Premier League): Officially marked down as a centre-forward, Athanasiadis wasn’t great at Maccabi Haifa in Israel, tallying one goal in 12 Premier League matches. Left PAOK Thessaloniki on a free transfer in August 2017. His position with the Israeli club looks to be uncertain after being caught driving under the influence of alcohol last week.

Israeli Premier League: 12 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists
Israeli Cup: 2 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists

Konstantinos Tsimikas (Willem II/Eredivisie): Tsimikas took full advantage of the opportunity presented by Willem II, making the left-back position his own and showing parent club Olympiacos why he should be a first team player in Piraeus. Olympiacos duly took note and will recall Tsimikas for the 2018/2019 season.

Eredivisie: 33 appearances, 3 goals, 3 assists
Dutch Cup: 4 appearances, 3 goals, 1 assist

Sotirios Papagiannopoulos (Ostersunds/Allsvenskan): The Swedish season has only just started, so it’s hard to assess Papagiannopoulos. In the Europa League, the Stockholm born defender was present in Ostersunds’ fairy-tale journey to the knockout stages, racking up 1,260 minutes of game time. On May 26, Papagiannopoulos transferred to FC Copenhagen with a four-year contract.

Allsvenskan: 11 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist
Swedish Cup: 3 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists
UEFA Europa League: 14 appearances, 1 goal, 0 assists
 

 
by Shaun Nicolaides
Image Source: .gr
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