Derby struggles taking their toll on AEK
AEK’s dismal recent record in derbies continued on Sunday, as the defeat against Olympiacos practically ended all remaining hopes of qualifying for the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League.
Initially, AEK made the perfect start as Ezequiel Ponce struck the opening goal within three minutes, but Olympiacos hit the jackpot four times in a disastrous second half for the beleaguered Greek champions. This became AEK’s first defeat to Olympiacos since the second leg of the 2016/2017 Greek Cup semi-finals (0:1).
Overall, the Athenians have now failed to win their past six derbies against either Olympiacos, PAOK or Panathinaikos in all competitions, with that streak beginning when AEK dropped a 0:2 loss to PAOK in the 2017/2018 Greek Cup final:
AEK - PAOK - 0:2 (Greek Cup)
PAOK - AEK - 2:0 (Super League)
AEK - Olympiacos - 1:1 (Super League)
Panathinaikos - AEK - 0:0 (Super League)
AEK - PAOK - 1:1 (Super League)
Olympiacos - AEK - 4:1 (Super League)
Last season was a completely different story. Taking into account the technical win against PAOK in Thessaloniki, AEK won five out of six Super League derbies in the 2017/2018 campaign, consequently claiming their maiden Greek championship in 24 years. When Manolo Jimenez returned to the AEK helm in early February, many hoped he would be able to turn things around after Marinos Ouzounidis’ troublesome tenure, but even the popular Spaniard was powerless to prevent the club from suffering a painful defeat in Piraeus.
The horror show at the Karaiskakis Stadium could have turned out differently had Petros Mantalos doubled AEK’s advantage in the first half. In all derbies this season, AEK have shown flashes of potential, notably creating plenty of chances against PAOK in Thessaloniki and pressing Olympiacos when hosting the Thrylos at the Olympic Stadium in October. However, the players haven’t been able to compete at the required level for the entire 90 minutes, and AEK are now resigned to their fate of missing out on Champions League football next season.
AEK’s final chance to win a 2018/2019 Super League derby will arrive on March 9 against Panathinaikos at the OAKA.