PAO-AEK In Athens Derby
(Matchday 11 Preview)
In the delayed Matchday 11 of the 2016/17 Greek SuperLeague, one match outshines all the others as Panathinaikos and AEK play in an Athens derby. The AGONAsport Match of the Week pits these two old foes as they battle on Sunday evening at the Leoforos Stadium in a bid to improve disappointing campaigns.
Olympiacos look to take advantage of any slip-up as they travel to Platanias on Saturday. Panionios and Xanthi, also tied with Panathinaikos for second place face tough matches this weekend. Panionios are away to Atromitos while Xanthi take on PAS Giannina in a match with implications for the playoff race.
Relegation zone battles are also on the schedule as Iraklis open up the weekend hosting Kerkyra while also on Saturday, Veria and Levadiakos lock horns.
PAOK face the always difficult trip to Larisa while Asteras Tripolis welcome Panetolikos.
*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: PANATHINAIKOS - AEK
Two wounded giants battle at the Leoforos Stadium on Sunday evening as Panathinaikos and AEK butt heads in an Athens derby. Both sides come into this match, the AGONAsport Match of the Week, wishing they were in different places as their respective seasons have spiraled out of control. With the title looking impossible at this point (Panathinaikos 12 points behind, AEK 16 away), the target in the second half of the season is consolidation of a playoff spot.
Panathinaikos are coming off two straight victories, a narrow 1-0 league win on Monday against Kerkyra and a 3-0 triumph over Kissamikos in midweek Cup action. There does appear to be an uptick in form with the arrival of Marinos Ouzounidis, however the Prasini are far from the finished article.
While the prevailing notion is that Panathinaikos are slowly improving, the same cannot be said of AEK. Recent results have not been up to scratch such as the 3-2 defeat at Asteras last week. The performances too are leaving a lot to be desired and under Jose Morais the team appear unmotivated in matches. Whether the Portuguese manager will be given time to find consistency remains to be seen. This weekend’s result against their classic city rivals could play a big role in the future decisions of the club with respect to transfers as well as the managerial situation.
The three points won’t drastically change anything for either club at the moment. However, a win during the current time period could bring some confidence and momentum to two teams desperately needing it. AEK certainly don’t seem to have any more room for error. A loss would put them seven points behind Panathinaikos in 2nd place and also raise questions if they have a team capable of even clinching a top five spot.
IRAKLIS - KERKYRA
Iraklis face Kerkyra in perhaps their match of the season in Saturday’s early kick-off. Quite simply, Savvas Pantelidis and company need points quickly in order to stay within reach of safety. Thus the match against a Kerkyra side who are woeful away from home (winless in six away matches) is being viewed as a must win. Two players have come in during the transfer window for Iraklis. Adam Tzanetopoulos has been loaned from AEK and Antonis Iliadis signed from Platanias. Tzanetopoulos is expected to feature against Veria as central defender Nikos Ziabaris has been ruled out for three weeks.
Kerkyra are not exactly safe from a relegation battle either. Some poor recent form, including three points from their last six games, puts them just five points clear at the mid-season stage. 10 of their 13 points have been gained at home meaning there will be emphasis in the second half of the campaign to pick up more points away. Michalis Grigoriou’s team nearly snatched an away point against Panathinaikos on Monday, but were beaten by a late goal. Main offensive threat Thuram will return from suspension this weekend to offer a boost to the Faiakes.
VERIA - LEVADIAKOS
Levadiakos head to Veria this weekend with a new manager on the sidelines. Ratko Dostanic and the club parted ways by mutual consent on Thursday. This was the result of a wretched run of form by the Livadeia side who have lost five straight league matches. Former PAS Giannina and Platanias manager Giannis Christopoulos has been appointed with the job of bringing the club away from the relegation zone.
Veria meanwhile are in the midst of an audit of their financial status which bring big changes to the club including to the coaching staff and roster. Mired in the relegation zone, this is a crucial fixture for Veria as a victory would bring them closer to safety and at the same time more than likely plunge Levadiakos into the relegation battle as well.
PLATANIAS - OLYMPIACOS
Platanias will be aiming to claim another big scalp when league leaders Olympiacos visit on Saturday night. Panathinaikos were defeated last week in Crete and the Chania side will be hoping they can duplicate the feat against the visiting team. Platanias are yet another side with superb form at home, where they have lost only once this season. Whether they can push on from their current standing in 9th place for a playoff spot remains to be seen. That appears to be a longshot, but recent results have been encouraging with the team having won their last three in the league.
Olympiacos took a seemingly decisive step toward another league title with their 2-0 away win at Xanthi last Sunday. That opened up a 12-point lead at the top for the Piraeus club. There appears nothing or nobody capable of stopping the red and white juggernaut at this point. Paulo Bento will have to keep his side motivated however knowing there is an entire second half of the season to play. Seba will be missing this weekend after his red card against Xanthi, with Bento expected to keep the faith in the resurgent Marko Marin.
Larissa - PAOK
Larisa and PAOK face off at the AEL FC Arena in Sunday’s first match of the day. PAOK are coming off a 1-0 defeat by PAS Giannina which left Vladan Ivic’s team in 8th place. It was a tough pill to swallow especially after PAOK thoroughly dominated the match and had gone into the fixture with a five-match winning run. Improvement during midweek saw the team come up with a 2-0 win against Panetolikos in the Greek Cup.
Larisa are coming off another away defeat (their 5th in 7 games) as they went down 3-2 to Platanias last Sunday. Larisa will fancy their chances at home against anyone especially after taking points from matches involving the likes of Olympiacos and Panathinaikos earlier this season. The weather is causing disruption to the Vyssini’s preparation for this match with Wednesday’s practice cancelled.
astreras tripolis - PANETOLIKOS
|Asteras Tripolis||10:15 AM||Panetolikos|
It’s 10th versus 11th when Panetolikos visit Asteras Tripolis on Sunday. Panetolikos want to rebound from a Greek Cup defeat in midweek play and some indifferent form in recent games. Staring at a potential Cup exit, Giannis Mantzourakis and his team must now pour all their energy into a best possible placing in the league.
Asteras meanwhile are a place lower in the standings than their weekend opponents, but the atmosphere around the team is very good at the moment. Strong performances in recent games including last week’s victory over AEK suggest a team capable of rising up the table. Dimitris Elefteropoulos has enjoyed a positive start to his time in Tripoli and has his side also just about into the last 8 of the Greek Cup after a Round of 16 win over Trikala (2-0) this week.
ATROMITOS - PANIONIOS
In Peristeri, Atromitos and Panionios meet up in an exciting match-up. Both sides have goals of a playoff berth and the result of this match will play a role in what happens. Atromitos snapped a three-match winless run with a 2-0 victory over Levadiakos last weekend. Giorgos Korakakis will be boosted by the news that he will have his full squad to choose from for this important fixture.
Panionios climbed up to second place with their win over Panetolikos. Vladan Milojevic’s side will fancy their chances away as they have only lost one match on their travels all season. It remains to be seen what effect the January transfer window will have on this side. Karim Ansarifard going to Olympiacos will cause quite the shake-up, but a group of players are in the midst of joining the team. The most notable individual is undoubtedly former Liverpool attacker Samed Yesil who is set to sign a 2.5 year deal with the Nea Smyrniotes.
XANTHI - PAS GIANNINA
|Xanthi||10:15 AM||PAS Giannina|
Xanthi aim to bounce back this weekend following defeat at the hands of Olympiacos in their last match. PAS Giannina are the opponents this week and they will be no pushovers for Razvan Lucescu’s men. Despite defeat to Olympiacos, which broke an 11-match unbeaten streak, Xanthi are still tied for second place in the SuperLeague table. The club’s home form will have to improve if they are to stay near the top of the standings. Xanthi have been superb on the road, but they have won only two of their six home ties.
Last week, PAS Giannina were rather lucky to have come away with the three points when taking on PAOK in Toumba. That said, Giannis Petrakis’ team did well to nick a goal and hold on to pick up the big win. The snow has wreaked havoc on PAS’s ability to train this week. The club’s training center was unfit for practices with some cancelled altogether. A victory in this match could Giannina into the playoff places. That is certainly the club’s main goal this season and they are certainly within firing distance at this stage of the campaign.