SLGR Matchday 16 Preview: Tasty Affair In Tripoli
AGONAsport’s George Tsitsonis previews matchday 16 of the 2018/19 Greek SuperLeague.
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The Greek Super League returns from its winter break this weekend with Matchday 16 action. The league decided recently to play Matchday 15 at the end of January after it was postponed in December due to an attack on referee Athanasios Tzilos.
This weekend, winter champions PAOK are set for a tough encounter in Tripoli against Asteras while second-placed side Olympiacos must also contend with an away match at Levadiakos. Elsewhere, Atromitos welcome an improved Panetolikos side while Panathinaikos host Xanthi and AEK are away to PAS Giannina.
Below is a day-by-day breakdown of this weekend’s matches.
Larisa - Apollon Smirnis
Atromitos - Panetolikos
OFI - Panionios
The first game of 2019 in the Super League will be played at the AEL FC Arena as Larisa and Apollon Smirnis face off. Visitors Apollon are the bottom side in the league table and will be seeking only their second win of the season. This is an important match for Larisa as a victory could put them as high as ninth in the standings while a defeat would keep them near the final relegation place.
2018 was a banner year for Atromitos and the Peristeri side will be keen to ensure 2019 will follow suit. Damir Canadi’s side, fresh off a 3-0 victory over Apollon Smirnis in the Greek Cup earlier this week, are up against difficult opposition this weekend in Panetolikos. Traianos Dellas’ team have pulled it together in the last few matches and find themselves in sixth place at the moment.
Saturday’s late fixture takes place in Crete as OFI host Panionios. Both teams will have expected to be higher up the table at this stage of the season thus each will believe they have underachieved. A win by either would help start some momentum in getting back up the league table. In Panionios’ case, the goal would be closer to the European places, while OFI will want the safety of midtable.
Levadiakos - Olympiacos
Panathinaikos - Xanthi
Asteras Tripolis - PAOK
Olympiacos can cut the gap to PAOK to five points should they win away to Levadiakos on Sunday. With PAOK set to play later in the day, Pedro Martins’ men could apply some pressure with a victory earlier on Sunday. Levadiakos are second from the bottom in the table and will need a better showing in this second half of the season in order to avoid the drop.
Panathinaikos have received plenty of praise this season for the work Giorgos Donis has done in leading a young, talented bunch to fifth in the table and playing some fine football. As of late, problems have hit the Prasini such as a sickness in the camp and on the pitch a surprising 1-0 Greek Cup loss away to Lamia on Thursday. They will try to turn that around this weekend against Xanthi, who are coming off a scoreless draw with Olympiacos in Greek Cup play earlier this week.
The AGONAsport Match of the Week kicks off on Sunday night and the late encounter between Asteras Tripolis and PAOK has all the makings of a fine match. After a terrible start to the season, Asteras have rebounded to become one of the league’s form clubs. PAOK are dreaming of a first Greek league title in over 30 years as they take an eight-point lead into the New Year. They will have to win that elusive championship without leading scorer Aleksandar Prijovic who has been sold to Saudi club Al-Ittihad.
Aris - Lamia
PAS Giannina - AEK
Two matches are slated for Monday evening. Despite recent setbacks, Aris’ hopes of European football next season are still alive. In order to do so, they will be expected to win home matches like the one against Lamia. The visiting club currently occupy the last relegation place in the standings.
Finally, AEK try to regain their form from last season as they travel north to play against PAS Giannina. The Kitrinomavri are fourth at the moment, but that’s not good enough for a club who are the defending champions. AEK will encounter a PAS Giannina side that has had some trouble finding momentum this weekend. One bright spot is Giannina are at home (W-D-L record of 3-2-1) where they are substantially better than they are in away matches, having lost lost seven of eight on their travels.