10 of the best Super League players in the 2018/2019 season
AGONAsport analyses the performances of 10 of the best players who shone in the 2018/2019 Super League campaign.
A drama-filled, enthralling season of Super League football has reached its conclusion, with PAOK winning the third league title in their history, Olympiacos returning to Europe’s premier competition, 2017/2018 champions AEK falling off the boil and OFI saving their top flight status in the most dramatic way possible. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best players of the season:
‘The Goldkeeper’ certainly lived up to his nickname. After enduring a nightmare in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers against Benfica, the 29-year-old recovered to get back on top form in the Super League, playing in all 30 matches while recording 16 clean sheets and conceding 14 goals. Blessed with excellent reflexes, Paschalakis made a number of vital saves in key matches against Olympiacos and AEK, helping PAOK remain undefeated and storm to their maiden title in 34 years. A memorable season.
Jose Angel Crespo
The 32-year-old defender barely made the smallest of errors. Playing in the centre of defence, Crespo was a big reason why PAOK only conceded 14 goals in the Super League, calmly going about his business without ever panicking. Together with the departing Fernando Varela, the experienced Spaniard protected Paschalakis well, neutralizing the threat posed by opposing forwards. Crespo also scored the one goal in a 1:1 draw against Atromitos in Peristeri.
What a season it was for the 23-year-old. On loan from PAOK, Koulouris was given a perfect platform on which to display his talents with Atromitos, immediately earning a place in Damir Canadi’s line-up. In a quite incredible campaign, the striker registered 19 goals in the Super League, becoming the third Greek since the Super League’s formation to boast the title of the domestic championship’s top scorer. Koulouris’ fantastic scoring run reportedly attracted the attention of Champions League semi-finalists Ajax. It remains to be seen whether Razvan Lucescu gives Koulouris a chance in Thessaloniki next season.
The Argentinian striker was a shining light for AEK in what was a miserable campaign. When Ponce signed on loan from AS Roma last summer, not many fans were aware of his talents, but the 22-year-old subsequently proved his worth. In the Super League, Ponce managed to score an impressive 16 goals, with many of them being absolutely crucial. Just imagine how many Ponce could have scored had AEK been firing on all cylinders.
Unfortunately for AEK, Ponce is unlikely to remain at AEK for the 2019/2020 season, with the player wanting to continue his career in a stronger championship.
Fortounis is back at his best. Following a disappointing few seasons, Fortounis came roaring back under the leadership of Pedro Martins, giving inspired performances to score 12 goals in the Super League and tally nine assists (the most in the Super League). Three of his goals came in the two matches against AEK (1:1, 4:1), and when playing the Kitrinomavri at the Olympic Stadium in October, Fortounis struck gold with a gorgeous long-range effort.
His passion and desire was there for all to see. At the moment, his Olympiacos contract is due to expire in 2020, but the Erythrolefki are close to extending it through to 2023. Teams from England, Germany, Russia and Turkey are all making enquiries concerning Fortounis’ availability with Olympiacos only willing to consider bids exceeding 15 million euros.
PAOK’s Captain Fantastic. A man on a mission throughout the entire season. Burning with motivation to finally lift the Super League trophy, Vieirinha was a captain in every sense of the word for PAOK, playing with infectious commitment on the left side of defence and popping up with five crucial goals. On matchday 28, the 33-year-old European champion received the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament injury, but he was still on hand to hoist the cup aloft when PAOK thrashed Levadiakos 5:0 a week later. Every team needs a captain like Vieirinha.
Another Las Palmas loanee has shot to fame in Greece. In the past, Las Palmas’ Sergio Araujo and Marko Livaja got their careers back on track in the Super League, and now Mateo Garcia has begun to fully realise his potential. In the league, Garcia reached double figures in goals with 10 markers, showing brilliant technical skills on the left flank and being the creative force in attack. Garcia’s wonderful play helped Aris qualify for the UEFA Europa League, but it’s not yet known where he will compete in the 2019/2020 season. Olympiacos are big fans of his talents.
Similar to Vieirinha, versatile defensive midfielder Kourbelis holds all of the necessary qualities which a great captain requires. In the summer of 2018, Kourbelis was heavily linked with a move to Sampdoria, but he remained at Panathinaikos with his reputation rising even further this season. Possessing the capability to play either as a central defender or a defensive midfielder, the 25-year-old did a fantastic job of leading this youthful Panathinaikos team, standing out with his determination. Transfermarkt rate his value at two million.
Olympiacos did well to sign Camara from AC Ajaccio in July 2018. Before he moved to Olympiacos, Camara was an unknown figure, but he quickly made everyone sit up and take notice. Sitting in front of the defence, the 22-year-old Guinean made a great first impression in the Super League, especially given his ability to score blockbuster goals like his rocket against Asteras Tripolis in September. Olympiacos will look to build their midfield around Camara in the coming seasons.
The diminutive Portuguese winger needs to improve his consistency and finishing, but he is surely one of the most naturally talented players in the Super League. Given his lack of height (165 centimeters), Podence has a low sense of gravity, able to run at defenders and beat them for pure skill. The 25-year-old made eight assists in his debut Super League season, and although he must become better at taking advantage of scoring opportunities, he still grabbed five goals. The Super League is crying out for more players of Podence’s level.
Best of the rest: Diego Biseswar, Emanuel Insua, Giannis Bouzoukis, Ahmed Hassan, Omar Elabdellaoui, Leonardo Koutris, Leo Matos, Leo Jaba, Guilherme, Hamza Younes, Manolis Siopis, Federico Macheda, Chuba Akpom.