Six Super League clubs show improvement in 2017/2018 season
With the 2017/2018 Super League in the books, AGONAsport analyses how the teams performed in comparison to the previous season.
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Guess who improved the most? No, it’s not Greek champions AEK, or even the impressive Atromitos. Asteras Tripolis climbed seven places up the Super League standings, in turn bagging a spot in the UEFA Europa League for the upcoming season. Panathinaikos, AOK Kerkyra and Platanias were naturally some of the worst performers, while Olympiacos and Panionios also took major steps backwards.
Let’s see how the clubs played in the 2017/2018 season compared to 2016/2017:
The newly crowned Greek champions endured a mixed 2016/2017 season, struggling in the Super League regular season and only picking up 53 points. Nevertheless, AEK came good in the European playoffs, edging PAOK to claim a UEFA Champions League berth. This year, the Enosis were practically unstoppable, only losing two games on their way to their first league title since 1994. Las Palmas pair Marko Livaja and Sergio Araujo played a key role in AEK’s triumph, combining for a grand total of 19 goals.
2016/2017: 4th place (regular season), 53 points
2017/2018: 1st place, 70 points
If PAOK hadn’t got involved in two controversial scandals in home matches against Olympiacos and AEK, the Dikefalos tou Vorra would probably have become champions of Greece. Over the course of the campaign, PAOK performed well under Romanian head coach Razvan Lucescu, setting records with solid goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis and remaining ‘undefeated’ at the Toumba Stadium (excluding court trials). In the previous season, PAOK proved to be Olympiacos’ biggest challengers, coming in second place of the regular season before playoff disappointment.
2016/2017: 2nd place (regular season), 61 points
2017/2018: 2nd place, 64 points
It’s been a season to forget for Olympiacos. After winning their seventh title on the bounce in 2017, the Piraeus outfit were simply dreadful this campaign, struggling with a hugely under-performing and seemingly unmotivated squad which wasn’t willing to put the effort in. Olympiacos dropped points in key matches, notably losing twice to AEK and failing to beat Panathinaikos at home. Fiery owner Evangelos Marinakis went through four different coaches, but it only made matters worse, as Olympiacos missed out on qualifying for the Champions League in third. Incoming new boss Pedro Martins has a real task on his hands to turn the situation around.
2016/2017: 1st place, 67 points
2017/2018: 3rd place, 57 points
Without doubt, Atromitos were the Super League’s surprise team of the year. Finishing in eighth place in the 2016/2017 season, no one expected the Peristeri outfit to be among the top four, but Atromitos defied the odds to claim fourth spot and a Europa League berth. Led by clever head coach Damir Canadi and ridiculously talented Amr Warda, Atromitos were one of the title contenders for a long time, beating Olympiacos and AEK on the road. Unfortunately for their fans, Warda will now return to parent club PAOK.
2016/2017 season: 8th place, 39 points
2017/2018 season: 4th place, 56 points
The Tripoli club didn’t start the season too well, flirting with the relegation places after several poor results. Asteras gradually improved as the campaign gathered pace, defeating AEK, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos in front of their home fans and never making life easier for the opponents. Guided by wily manager Savvas Pantelidis and solid goaltender Giorgos Athanasiadis, Asteras burst into fantastic form in the season’s closing weeks, pipping Xanthi to a Europa League place.
2016/2017 season: 12th place, 28 points
2017/2018 season: 5th place, 45 points
Interestingly, for the second consecutive year, Xanthi occupied sixth place in the Super League standings. To be honest, they looked to be heading for the Europa League, but Asteras’ late charge denied them the opportunity to compete in European competition. Still, it was a positive season for Xanthi, with potent Slovakian forward Erik Jendrisek leading the attack. Next year, Xanthi will be looking to break in the top five.
2016/2017 season: 6th place, 48 points
2017/2018 season: 6th place, 45 points
Plagued by injuries and inconsistency, Panionios never built up momentum this season, only capable of finishing in seventh position. That isn’t necessarily an unsatisfactory showing, but taking into account Panionios were fifth last year and played in Europe, the Nea Smyrni club expected more. 27-year old Slovenian goalkeeper Matic Kotnik was a bright spark for Panionios, stopping 99 shots to save more attempts than any other goaltender in the 2017/2018 Super League season.
2016/2017 season: 5th place (regular season), 52 points
2017/2018 season: 7th place, 40 points
A mid-table finish is a decent result for Panetolikos, who were flailing in 11th spot in the 2016/2017 season. Out of the best eight teams, Panetolikos were the only Super League club to register a negative goal difference (-9), but their players earned six of their nine wins at home to claim a place in the top half of the table.
2016/2017 season: 11th place, 31 points
2017/2018 season: 8th place, 35 points
Just like Xanthi, the Ioannina based team finished in the same position of the Super League for the second successive season - ninth. PAS Giannina earned two less points than in 2017, but they finished the campaign with a fantastic 3:0 thrashing of Olympiacos and Spanish hitman Pedro Conde stole the headlines with 14 league goals.
2016/2017 season: 9th place, 36 points
2017/2018 season: 9th place, 34 points
Given the club’s limited resources and financial backing, 11th place is certainly an acceptable showing. Winning seven matches in Levadia and only losing three games at their stadium, home form was the decisive factor in Levadiakos’ successful fight to avoid relegation. Tricky forward Petros Giakoumakis is reportedly wanted by the Super League’s so-called bigger clubs.
2016/2017 season: 14th place, 26 points
2017/2018 season: 11th place, 34 points
One word to summarize Panathinaikos’ year? Disaster. Surrounded by major financial problems off the pitch, the Athenian giants were equally as bad on it, winning a mere two matches on the road and relying on goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos to churn out 10 victories. Alongside Vlachodimos, Dimitris Kourbelis, Robin Lod and coach Marinos Ouzounidis stood out for the right reasons. It must also be noted that Panathinaikos were hit with points deductions during the season. In the 2016/2017 campaign, the Greens came second in the European playoffs after finishing in third in the regular season.
2016/2017: 3rd place (regular season), 57 points
2017/2018: 11th place, 32 points
Larissa made a slight improvement from the 2016/2017 season, taking three more points to occupy 12th place in the Super League instead of 11th. AEL were another club to grow into the season as it continued, recovering from a slack start to comfortably keep their place in the top flight.
2016/2017 season: 13th place, 28 points
2017/2018 season: 12th place, 31 points
Kerkyra were expected to kick on from last season when they took 10th place, but the Corfu club paid the price for incompetent management and terrible player selection, suffering relegation to the Football League one week before the season’s completion.
2016/2017 season: 10th place, 32 points
2017/2018 season: 15th place, 22 points
A similar story to Kerkyra’s fate, expect it’s more dramatic. In 2017, Platanias somehow ended up finishing in seventh place, holding 42 points and not far away from the European spots. However, it’s been a complete contrast this season. Platanias really were shocking, losing 24 out of 30 games and only winning twice. A perfect hero to zero example.
2016/2017: 7th place, 42 points
2017/2018: 16th place, 10 points
PAS Lamia 1964 and Apollon Smyrnis participated in the 2016/2017 Football League season.