Making the Best of a Bad Week
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talks about the challenging week that was at Olympiacos.
What if someone had told you that Olympiacos would have only gotten one point out of the three games this past week? Would you have been happy? I know I wouldn’t have been.
We touched base after the disappointing PAOK loss but we were all hopeful that the team can pull off at least one victory in San Siro or at OAKA Spyros Louis. Instead, the Reds find themselves 3 points in back of PAOK in the Superleague standings and in a must-win situation when they fly to Luxembourg later this month.
The Milan game started off quite oddly. Pedro Martins opted for an entirely different starting XI. The team did well to contain Milan and even took the lead. All of the efforts were squandered in less than 10 minutes as the Erythrolefki allowed three goals and ultimately lost. Since the start of the season, Martins has tossed a very similar squad on the pitch and the changes in Italy can only be characterized as drastic. The team looked like it ran out of gas as most of the players hadn’t played a full 90 minute game. Like it or not, the loss to the Rossonieri was not a shocker. The entire fanbase believed that the team will finally throw the monkey of its back and break out against AEK. Instead, that didn’t happen either.
The current Greek Champions looked more organized and pressured Gianniotis early on. Olympiacos eventually evened out the game and was the much better team going forward. Kostas Fortounis strike will be a candidate for Goal of the Year and Martins’s men looked like they had complete control of the game. Then, disaster happened. Poor coverage in the box led to Tasos Bakasetas connecting on a Rodrigo Galo cross and the game was tied. If you thought the heart-ache ended there, you were wrong. Daniel Podense outran the entire AEK team and fed Miguel Angel Guerrero. Guerrero, quickly realized that Giannis Fetfatzidis was completely open in the box and gave him a beautiful one-touch pass.
It was right there. A goal that would have shut many mouths up. It would have silenced the disrespectful fans who were swearing at Lazaros Christodoulopoulos; the same man who helped them win a Greek Championship for the first time since 1994. Christodoulopoulos, who has always played with passion, was playing this game injured - something we found out after the contest. The Greek international did what’s best for him and his family; he turned down Dimitri Melissanidis’s stingy offer and joined the team he grew up loving. It would have silenced an AEK administration that has shown arrogance forgwhile almost forgetting that they had to tarnish their history by sending their team to the C Division to clear their debts. It would have silenced AEK bench-boss Marinos Ouzounidis, who claimed in a post-game interview that his team was superior. Ouzounidis should thank his lucky stars that Danish referee Kristoffer Kristofferson forgot his yellow and red cards back in Denmark. The AEK players were reckless in their tackles and were getting away with only stern warnings but no cards.
Instead of making OAKA Spyros Louis the biggest museum in Greece with 30,000 spectators looking like statues, Fetfatzidis sent the ball to the heavens; AEK had gotten away with another one. After the game, you can tell how disappointed the Erythrolefki looked. This is a derby, and ties are not celebrated in Piraeus. On the other side, the AEK squad was celebrating as if they had just triumphed against Real Madrid. It’s unfortunate for a club that has such a strong allegiance of fans, the small-club mentality never seems to really go away for the Kitrinomavri.
Martins once again reiterated after the game that this team would be the eventual champions. The squad was built over the summer and it will continue to improve. Olympiacos only comes away with one point in these three games, but arguments can be made that all three games could have been won. Something tells me that PAOK, AEK and even Milan will not be so lucky come the second time around.
by Theo Bouras
Image Source: sdna.gr