AGONAsport’s Greek Super League Best XI of 2017/18
AGONAsport presents to you the Greek Super League Best XI of the season as voted for by AGONAsport readers and the site’s writers.
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Champions AEK are well represented throughout as are PAOK and Atromitos. Former champions Olympiacos’ fall from grace can be seen with the fact that only one player makes the list, and that in an Honorable Mention capacity.
There are also representatives from smaller clubs including Asteras Tripolis and PAS Giannina. Some of the picks seem pretty straightforward and others might cause a few eyebrows to be raised.
AGONAsport would like to thank all those readers who casted votes. Without further adieu, we present the Greek Super League Best XI of the 2017/18 season.
GOALKEEPER: ANDREAS GIANNIOTIS (Atromitos)
After being sold by Olympiacos to Atromitos, Andreas Gianniotis seemed to have been motivated to prove the Piraeus side wrong. The 25-year-old promptly had a fantastic 2017/18 season helping Atromitos into a Europa League spot in the process.
Olympiacos have acted swiftly to re-sign Gianniotis, realizing quickly the error of their ways in letting him leave. With 15 shutouts this season in league play, Atromitos showed their defensive mettle, and Gianniotis contributed to that in a big way. The goalkeeper’s fantastic performances were enough to earn him his first cap for Greece this past March against Egypt.
Goalkeeper Honorable Mention: Alexandros Paschalakis (PAOK): Pachalakis broke PAOK’s all-time record for not allowing a goal in the league and Cup. Paschalakis was a massive part in PAOK’s league campaign and Greek Cup victory.
LEFT-BACK: VIEIRINHA (PAOK)
PAOK’s captain played a key role in his side’s eventual second-placed finish and Greek Cup success. Early in the season, Razvan Lucescu decided to try the 32-year-old veteran at left back. Vieirinha showed his versatility in becoming a mainstay in the position.
Though he stated in interviews that everyone knew this wasn’t his natural position, the Portuguese international endeared himself to the Toumba faithful even more with a series of top-notch displays. His return of seven assists shows the extra element he gave to the Thessaloniki giants in attack from the full-back position.
Left-back Honorable Mention: Leonardo Koutris (Olympiacos): A solid season for the 22-year-old who was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise awful campaign for the Erythrolefki.
RIGHT-BACK: MICHALIS BAKAKIS (AEK)
The Agrinio-born Bakakis helped anchor one of the stingiest defenses in Super League history. It may be relatively late for a break-out party (Bakakis recently turned 27), but it was that sort of campaign for the current Greek international.
Bakakis’ offensive statistics (1 assist) do not tell the whole story. This is a player whose defensive capabilities coupled with his outstanding work rate down the right was a key part in AEK’s championship-winning season.
Right-back Honorable Mention: Leo Matos (PAOK): Another consistent campaign for PAOK from their Brazilian stalwart. Matos impressed during 2016/17 and was at it again this season. His four goals and six assists show his attacking intent, while remaining one of the league’s best left-sided defenders.
CENTER-BACK: FERNANDO VARELA (PAOK)
The Cape Verde international has been an absolute rock at the back for PAOK over the last two seasons. During the 2017/18 campaign, Varela was even better than in his debut season. Varela showed his ability to play a physical game, but a clean one at that, earning a mere two yellow cards in 26 league appearances. His performances were solid across the board giving PAOK the leadership, stability, and quality necessary in the center of the defense.
Center Back Honorable Mention: Spyros Risvanis (Atromitos): Though he didn’t get his chance for Olympiacos, Risvanis had another superb season, this time on-loan at Atromitos.
CENTER-BACK: OGNJEN VRANJES (AEK)
The AEK center-back had a rollercoaster campaign. A spat with head coach Manolo Jimenez back in November suggested that the Bosnian defender’s days in Athens were numbered. However coach and player found common ground and Vranjes not only stayed, but played a huge part in AEK winning the title.
He chipped in with four goals (including an unbelievable first-half hat-trick against Xanthi which was the first ever for a center-back in the Super League) and was a real leader at the back for AEK, always there it seemed for key interventions when his side most needed it.
Center Back Honorable Mention: Dmytro Chygrynskiy (AEK): Injury robbed him of half of the season, but the fact that he is on this list shows his worth to AEK when he is on the pitch.
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: DIMITRIS PELKAS (PAOK)
Perhaps no Greek player impressed as much as Pelkas did this season. Many fans and observers have been waiting for the 24-year-old to finally shine and this season he certainly did so. The youngster has always been a creative player no question, but this season he found the end product to go along with his undisputed quality.
Eight goals and eight assists is a solid return from his 23 matches and there is the belief in Thessaloniki that he can push on and be even better in the years to come.
Center Midfielder Honorable Mention: Walter Iglesias (Asteras Tripolis): A terrific campaign by the 33-year-old Super League veteran. Combined physical presence in midfield with contributions to the attack (Four goals, three assists).
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: ANDRE SIMOES (AEK)
One would be hard-pressed to find a more reliable player in Greece at the moment than Simoes. That consistency was in full evidence this season as the Portuguese midfielder was once again one of AEK’s top performers. Simoes does not impress statistically, but he does all the work that can’t be quantified.
His selfless displays though haven’t gone unnoticed teams across Europe. Valencia and Watford were just two of the sides rumored to be interested in his services in recent months.
When fit, Simoes is the first name on the AEK team sheet and even in the absence of fellow midfielder Jakob Johansson, the 28-year-old seamlessly held things together in the middle of the park for the champions.
Center Midfielder Honorable Mention: Dimitris Kourbelis (Panathinaikos): In one of the club’s worst ever seasons, Kourbelis was one of a few young players at Panathinaikos who enhanced their reputation.
WINGER: LAZAROS CHRISTODOULOPOULOS (AEK)
The man for the big occasion for AEK. Christodoulopoulos scored seven goals this season, including some terrific match-winning strikes. His goal on Matchday 5 against Olympiacos was one of the goals of the season and proved equally important to showing AEK could challenge for the title. AEK had several key contributions from many players this season, but it’s hard to see how they would have won this title without the part ‘Lazaros’ played.
Winger Honorable Mention: Lazaros Lamprou (Panionios): Another good season by a young Greek talent. Lamprou scored five times and laid off three assists impressing for the Nea Smyrni side.
WINGER: AMR WARDA (Atromitos)
The Egyptian makes no shortage of mistakes (155 total in 23 matches), but he makes up for it with some sheer footballing brilliance. This season on loan at Atromitos from PAOK, Warda was the creative force behind the club’s best ever top-flight campaign. His eight goals and six assists were accompanied by a dizzying array of skillful moves over the course of the season.
Considered surplus to requirements by PAOK in the past, it would be a shock to see the club not give such a talented playmaker one more chance at Toumba next season.
Winger Honorable Mention: Theodoros Vasilakakis (Atromitos): The mercurial Vasilakakis was at it again this season with a few stunning goals that would undoubtedly be in the goal of the season running. Along with Warda and Nicolas Diguiny, Vasilakakis helped provide so much creativity to the Atromitos attack.
FORWARD: ALEKSANDAR PRIJOVIC (PAOK)
The undisputed stand-out striker of the season. Prijovic finished as the Super League’s top scorer with his 19 goals. He was lethal in front of net as he converted better than one of every three chances he was presented with.
The Serbian international has the size at 6’3, though he also possesses the requisite quality. His killer instincts in front of goal always kept PAOK in the title race and the club will do well to keep ahold of their talisman for next season.
Forward Honorable Mention: Pedro Conde (PAS Giannina): At times it really did appear that the Spanish striker was playing by himself for PAS. He led the line brilliantly scoring 14 goals this season, the next highest scorer for Giannina had three.
FORWARD: MARKO LIVAJA (AEK)
Marko Livaja endeared himself early on with Enosi supporters despite something of a barren run to start to the season. His passion and commitment saw him become a fan favorite and that was further solidified when the goals started to come for the Croatian sensation.
Though he has always been more of a support striker in his career and not ever really been prolific, Livaja did manage eight goals with AEK as well as five assists. As stated, his goals were only part of the story. His battling qualities along with his skill at linking up with teammates became very important as the season progressed for AEK.
Forward Honorable Mention: Sergio Araujo (AEK, on-loan from Las Palmas): The perfect compliment to Livaja up front. Araujo has a goal poacher’s mentality and also a flair for the unexpected. This helped him register 11 goals this season and five assists.
COACH: DAMIR CANADI (Atromitos)
There were worthy competitors in Manolo Jimenez and Marinos Ouzounidis, but this year’s pick is Atromitos’ Damir Canadi. A relative unknown in Greece, the journeyman manager eventually showed his worth in leading Atromitos to their best ever Super League finish. Along the way, the 48-year-old was able to put together a side that was resolute defensively, but also able to play attractive football. Atromitos were near the top of the table all season, Canadi leading them to consistent results. He will be one to watch next year as to whether he can continue to improve the Peristeri side.
Coach Honorable Mention: Manolo Jimenez (AEK): Close behind Canadi is Jimenez. The Spaniard led AEK to their first title in 24 years by putting together an extremely solid backline and allowing his creative players the freedom to play their game.