GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 11
|Panathinaikos||12:30 PM (EST)||AEK|
AGONAsport’s George Tsitsonis previews the matchday 11 Greek SuperLeague Athenian derby between Panathinaikos and AEK at the Leoforos Stadium.
Two teams facing different problems go up against one another on Sunday night at the Leoforos Stadium in an Athens derby. Panathinaikos and AEK are reeling from their own issues as they prepare to rekindle their rivalry in Matchday 11 of the Greek Super League.
Panathinaikos face an uncertain future due to the financial problems plaguing the club. Some reports have suggested even relegation is a possibility for the historic Greek club. Certainly, those off-the-pitch issues have affected the team’s season thus far. Manager Marinos Ouzounidis has been given praise for keeping the team competitive. The team are experiencing a sort of Jekyll and Hyde type season. Panathinaikos are winless in five away fixtures this season, but at home Ouzounidis’ men are an altogether different proposition. At the friendly confines of the Leoforos, Panathinaikos have are undefeated, having won four of their five league matches this season.
AEK’s season has been full of ups and downs. A strong start was capped by a wonderful 3-2 comeback win over Olympiacos. As the club’s title chances began to be talked up they endured a quick dip in form which cut their advantage at the top of the league. They recovered from that and have played will in the Europa League, especially in the two draws against AC Milan. All in all, supporters are happy with the progress being made by Manolo Jimenez’s side. The question though in the light of two recent key injuries is whether the Kitrinomavri have the squad depth to compete on multiple fronts (currently the Super League, the Europa League, and the Greek Cup).
The news leading up to the derby has been positive for the Prasini. Dimitris Kourbelis looks as though he should be available for Sunday’s game. The Panathinaikos captain appears to have shaken off an injury as his participation in training sessions this week have increased.
Jimenez must deal with a real midfield selection headache. Two of AEK’s most important players in the center of the park have been ruled out for the season. Petros Mantalos first went down a few weeks ago against Panionios only to be followed this week by Jakob Johansson. The defensive midfielder suffered a terrible cruciate ligament injury in Sweden’s second leg playoff match against Italy.
11/4/17 Asteras Tripolis-Panathinaikos 1-0 (Greek Super League)
10/28/17 Panathinaikos-Olympiacos 1-0 (Greek Super League)
10/24/17 Anagenissi Karditsa-Panathinaikos 1-2 (Greek Cup)
10/21/17 Lamia-Panathinaikos 1-1 (Greek Super League)
10/16/17 Panathinaikos-Larisa 2-1 (Greek Super League)
11/5/17 AEK-PAOK 1-0 (Greek Super League)
11/2/17 AEK-AC Milan 0-0 (UEFA Europa League)
10/29/17 Panionios-AEK 0-1 (Greek Super League)
10/26/17 Apollon Larisa-AEK 0-7 (Greek Cup)
10/23/17 AEK-Atromitos 0-1 (Greek Super League)
The loss of Mantalos is a massive one for AEK and Johansson is also a key cog in the team’s midfield. How will Jimenez address not just one, but two crucial absences? How well the Spaniard does in setting up the team in this match and in the near future could well prove to be the biggest factor in AEK’s ability to contest for the league title.
Panathinaikos took care of Olympiacos a few weeks back at the Leoforos. Home comforts are keeping this team in a respectable league position. Ouzounidis must figure out how to transform splendid home form to the team’s away fixtures.
Though AEK will be missing key personnel, Panathinaikos must show the same intensity and fight they have shown this season at the Leoforos. AEK meanwhile will want to stay top of the league and must use that motivation to stop Panathinaikos’ home form.