Back from a Long Break...
(Matchday 12 Preview)
The Greek SuperLeague returns after a long hiatus due to the international break and of course another disruption to the league schedule thanks to off-the-pitch issues. Surely, the stop and go nature of the 2016/17 season has not helped the on-field product and the hope is that no more interruptions will take place from here on out.
This weekend, which will be Matchday 12, does not feature a traditional derby, though there are many important matches on the list of fixtures with bearing on positions up and down the table.
Champions and runaway leaders Olympiacos seem to have a straightforward fixture against Kerkyra at home on Sunday. The AGONAsport Match of the Week is none other than the late Sunday tie between Panionios and struggling Panathinaikos at Nea Smyrni.
Three matches on Saturday begin the weekend. PAS Giannina and Veria meet up in the early kick-off to be followed by Asteras Tripolis and Larisa. AEK need something positive to hold on to and they desperately want three points at home against Platanias.
Elsewhere, Levadiakos host bottom side Iraklis while a tight contest is expected when Panetolikos host Xanthi. Finally, Monday’s match features PAOK taking on Atromitos.
*For the full SuperLeague schedule click here or visit the Greek SuperLeague home page for more. For TV Listings of this weekend's games (and more) in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Greece visit our TV Listings's page.
GAME OF THE WEEK: PANIONIOS - PANATHINAIKOS
The weekend’s standout fixture takes place at Nea Smyrni in the Sunday late match. Panionios, impressive on many occasions this season, take on Panathinaikos. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to suggest that the Trifylli are in the midst of a crisis. With terrible form in the SuperLeague and in Europe, Panathinaikos are struggling across the board. Several thousand travelling supporters booed the team at the end of their Europa League defeat against what amounted to an Ajax B’ team on Thursday night. The pressure on Andrea Stramaccioni is being ratcheted up by the match and no one knows what the future holds though defeat to Panionios could spell the end of the Italian’s reign. Christopher Samba misses out once again this weekend while there are question marks over Cristian Ledesma’s fitness.
Vladan Milojevic has been impressive since taking over Panionios in the late summer period. Though they have lost 3 of their 8 matches, Panionios have played a very challenging schedule already and find themselves in 4th place on 13 points. With a good mix of experience and young talent, this is a side with their sights firmly set on European football next season. This weekend’s test against Panathinaikos will be all the more difficult because of some key absences. Vasilis Patsatzoglou, Michael Olaitan, and Spyros Risvanis are all missing though the defense could be reinforced by the return of Jerome Guihoata.
PAS GIANNINA - VERIA
|PAS Giannina||8:00 AM||Veria|
PAS Giannina are coming off a 0-0 midweek draw against Levadiakos and will be hoping that home comforts will deliver the three points this weekend against Veria. Giannis Petrakis’ side are enjoying a good start to the season as they are tied for second place with Panathinaikos at the moment. That does not mean there was not disappointment with the stalemate against Levadiakos.
Meanwhile Veria’s start to the campaign has not been as strong with the club winning only one of their first eight matches and finding themselves second from bottom at the moment with 6 points.
For PAS, there is good news in that Noe Acosta returned against Levadiakos and is set to feature. David Nadales and Michalis Boukovalas however will not be available. For Veria, they will bring a full squad to Zosimades with the only exception being Toni Calvo.
ASTERAS TRIPOLIS - LARISSA
|Asteras Tripolis||10:15 AM||Larissa|
A massive relegation tussle takes place in Tripolis as home side Asteras welcome Larisa to town. Asteras are on 9 points, one ahead of Larisa and will see match as extremely important in getting into the top half of the table after a bad run of form to begin the season.
Larisa are extremely solid at the AEL FC Arena, however on their travels they have picked up an abysmal one point so far.
Cedric Gondo’s injury issues continue as he will out for Asteras, as will defender Dimitris Kourbelis. For Larisa they have been dealt a blow with the news that Nico Varela will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks.
AEK - PLATANIAS
Jose Morais’ time in his couple matches with AEK have not been as promising as the Portuguese manager would have liked. He has the chance to begin righting the ship with a win over Platanias on Saturday.
Platanias made a rip-roaring start to the campaign, with their best start in club history after four matches. They have cooled off considerably since then and the worry is that early season success will not translate into stability in the coming weeks and months.
The big news coming out of the AEK camp this week is the release by mutual consent of summer signing Joleon Lescott. Platanias will be without Yaya Banana though Antonis Iliadis is set to return. The likes of Giorgos Giakoumakis and Vanderson are expected to be on the pitch.
OLYMPIACOS - KERKYRA
Olympiacos, fresh off clinching qualification to the Round of 32 in the Europa League, await the arrival of Kerkyra in an early Sunday match-up. Paulo Bento’s side earned a 1-1 draw against Young Boys on Thursday evening which booked a spot in the Europa League knockout round. In the league, Olympiacos are cruising even at this early stage with a seven-point advantage. Should Panathinaikos slip-up at Panionios and Olympiacos win on Sunday, the gap could be extended to double digits. Bento is set to ring the changes this weekend as he rotates his squad.
Kerkyra will hope for the best as they head to Piraeus this weekend. The goal for the island side is surely to avoid the drop and currently they are 9th place, four points above the relegation spots. Michalis Grigoriou would be glad to take a point from this fixture, but in truth Kerkyra’s chances for survival and midtable consolidation will be dependent on other matches. Kerkyra have only picked up a single point from their three away matches thus far and have scored only once while conceding six times on their travels.
LEVADIAKOS - IRAKLIS
Iraklis will continue trying to pick up their first win of the season as they make the trip to face Levadiakos. The cancellation of last week’s matches would have helped Savvas Pantelidis more than most as the new Iraklis boss would have had a little extra time to convey his ideas to his players. The truth is that Iraklis are in deep trouble at the moment with only 3 points from 8 matches. Nothing has been decided yet, but Iraklis desperately need points quickly.
Levadiakos picked up their first away point of the season in the midweek draw against PAS Giannina. While that was a credible result, Ratko Dostanic has injury issues ahead of this weekend’s match. The Serbian boss will need to reshuffle his team selection as he deals with the potential losses of key personnel including Nwankwo Obiora, Chahir Belghazouani, and Chumbinho.
PANETOLIKOS - XANTHI
Xanthi put a six-match unbeaten run to the test when they play against Panetolikos this weekend. Razvan Lucescu’s men have only won two out of those six matches, but their form has improved since beginning the season with consecutive defeats. Xanthi will be without the injured duo of Karim Soltani and Aristotle Karasalidis.
Panetolikos find themselves with injury worries as well. Giannis Mantzourakis will have to wait for the final verdict on injury issues concerning Fabian Munoz, Miguel Rodrigues, and Tasos Papazoglou.
PAOK - ATROMITOS
PAOK and Atromitos tangle in Toumba in this week’s Monday night match. PAOK supporters must have had mixed feelings watching their team record a dramatic, last-gasp victory away to Fiorentina on Thursday night in Europa League play. Certainly there was widespread joy at the massive result and the fact that now PAOK could find a way into the knockout rounds of the competition. On the flip side, fans must be wondering how their team have managed to drop so many points in league play this season when quite clearly they are able to play at a high level and beat opposition like Fiorentina. The hope for those surrounding the club is that Vladan Ivic’s team can finally find some consistency in their results following that big win in Italy.
Georgios Korakakis’ Atromitos will be no pushovers however and PAOK should be wary of the threat they pose. From two straight defeats at the start of the campaign that led to the dismissal of Traianos Dellas, Atromitos have rebounded superbly under Korakakis and are back in the upper half of the standings. The team come to Thessaloniki with a full squad, the only exception being the injured French attacker Nicolas Diguiny who misses out.