AGONA Spotlight: Anastasios Chatzigiovannis, Panathinaikos’ new leader at 21
Defying the odds, Panathinaikos have started the 2018/2019 season in perfect fashion, winning all five Super League games with Anastasios Chatzigiovannis the stand-out performer. The AGONA Spotlight investigates further.
STEP UP TO PANATHINAIKOS SENIORS
Having joined the Panathinaikos youth system as a teenager, gifted winger Chatzigiovannis gradually progressed through the academy, catching the eye with his showings for the under 19 side and earning his maiden call-up to the senior squad for the 2016/2017 pre-season. Initially, coach Andrea Stramaccioni was reluctant to give the young winger a chance, but he eventually handed Chatzigiovannis his debut in a 0:3 home defeat to Standard Liege in the UEFA Europa League when sending him on as a late substitute.
After that Europa League match, Chatzigiovannis didn’t make another Panathinaikos appearance until January 2017, but new boss Marinos Ouzounidis slowly gave the attacker more game time towards the end of the season. On February 2, he netted his maiden goal for the Greens, helping the Athenians defeat AO Chania Kissamikos 4:0 in the second leg of the Greek Cup Last 16. His first Super League start arrived on March 4 and he contributed with an assist in the 5:0 thrashing of Veria at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium.
DIFFICULTIES IN 2017/2018 SEASON
Initially, the new season began with Chatzigiovannis performing well against Gabala in the Europa League qualifiers, but his level dropped as Panathinaikos encountered crippling financial problems. In a nightmare Super League season for the Trifylli, he was turned into an impact substitute instead of a starter, warming the bench and only entering the action in the closing stages. One assist and zero goals in 17 domestic championship matches speaks volumes.
UPTURN IN FORTUNES WITH DONIS
For a while, it was doubtful whether Panathinaikos would even participate in the 2018/2019 Super League, but the organisation was granted permission to stay in the top flight and Chatzigiovannis is starting to flourish. Under the guidance of popular boss Giorgos Donis, he’s suddenly become Panathinaikos’ prize possession, spearheading the team to five consecutive wins in a stunning start.
In all five league matches, Chatzigiovannis has played from start to finish, stealing the headlines with productive displays. We’re only in early October, but the talented 21-year old already has a large two goals and three assists to his name. Let’s take a look at his matches:
Assist against PAS Lamia 1964 and won a penalty
Wins penalty and scores in 3:1 triumph against AE Larissa on the road
Two assists against Levadiakos
Clever equaliser in the 2:1 win over PAS Giannina
Chatzigiovannis can play anywhere across the attacking line, but he’s at his best on the right wing, boasting the ability to beat opponents for pure skill and is a flashy player with the ball at his feet. Following issues with the lack of end product, he has taken the criticism on board to improve greatly, whipping dangerous crosses into the penalty area while picking holes in the defence. His energy encourages Panathinaikos to play in an exciting, aggressive manner.
A member of the under 21 Greek national team, Chatzigiovannis was selected by Antonis Nikopolidis for the upcoming 2019 UEFA European Championship qualifiers and will hope to continue his brilliant form on the international stage. Can he sustain this level? At only 21, it’s a tall order and there’s sure to be testing moments ahead, but the right winger boasts the required talent to offer Panathinaikos and the Ethniki Omada a bright future.
by Shaun Nicolaides
Image Source: to10.gr