November 28, 2023

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The biggest gain for AEK is that he played ninety minutes that did not have to melt on the pitch

The biggest gain for AEK is that he played ninety minutes that did not have to melt on the pitch

AEK missed out on a carefree night and without having to do anything other than what was absolutely necessary, they cruised to a comfortable win over Panayetolikos.

The first time the Panetolikos player found himself with the ball at his feet, facing Stankovic’s goal in AEK’s half, was around the 25th minute of tonight’s match at the OPAP Arena. It has been offensively “found” ever since the ball fell more and more at the feet of Hatzitheodoridis.

The second pass, even then, the Agriniotes had been unable to complete, as the pass by the Greek midfielder led to offside. This feat was achieved by the ‘Canaries’ less than five minutes later, when they just made a series of conversions. Not just two, as they didn’t have them until then, but more or less they didn’t have them in total up to that point.

Small damage. Indifferent, and not annoying at all. If he plays like this all night, it won’t bother Yannis Petrakis, who made his debut off the bench, nor everyone else in the penultimate round of the Premier League. Bad lies, they had no other way, no other way. What’s more, the 90 minutes he spent in New Philadelphia preparing for the next game essentially served any ambition rather than realistically masking it.

The power, always in such games, lies with the person who is invited to play. Strength that is more of a mental test, without diminishing physical strength. Tonight was the third match in seven days for AEK. But the problem, and the damage, starts from the mind: “cleaning”, without tiring the legs and lungs, knowing in advance what you will face and how you should face it.

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Pressure and repetition

With the same routine to get results: press and repeat, press and repeat. The law of not only physics, but also football in such conditions. Expectation and demand must be met and confirmed as quickly as possible so that conditions do not change and nothing else arises along the way.

AEK have, so far in the season, been granted such rights. They did not keep a clean sheet in any of their first twelve matches. In nine of them, the result was first. They have won half of their first six Premier League matches, with two of their three victories coming on penalties.

So there was a need at last for as calm, carefree and as physically injurious a period of ninety minutes as possible. Rotation from Matias Almeidas of course. In fact, given the past of similar selections by Belado, he is (even) limited to “only” six changes in the original line-up in relation to the match against Ajax three days ago.

No special charging was required for the “yellow and black”. We said: pressure and repetition. At the right time. Until the half-hour mark, there was no particular pressure, although the match looked – due to the competitive approach (and potential) of Panaytolkos – like most similar circumstances, between AEK and AEK.

But from the half-hour mark, the repetition started to create pressure. First came the biggest chance of the match so far as Araujo sent the ball into the arms of Cabinos and then the solution. Back from a standstill, Domagoj Vida scored again, who scored for the second match in a row and third this year (the first in a qualifying goal against Dinamo Zagreb).

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After the solution release. Hence, the right timing was created to achieve the result. Eliasson also provided a second assist, as Rota put the ball past Panaetokos, ending the match just two minutes after the first goal for Al-Ittihad, which could have found that, in its best period in the match, until the end of the first half. Many goals.

“Stop” in the second half

Not that she would need them. They did not need it as much as expected, with Mokodi eventually highlighting the efficiency that Al-Ittihad appear to be having in scoring goals from set-pieces, setting up a 3-0 final and emphasizing a leadership, goalscoring role in tonight’s match, the defenders of ‘ Yellow and black.”

However, the second half turned out to be more procedural. With other demands now being more urgent, with a completely different intensity. As time passed, time also passed for the fans, as management from the bench, but also from the pitch, clearly prioritized “wiping out” the game.

In individual matches, for example, the goal he was desperately asking for – in the first half – Araujo, no, did not come. However, the Argentine has now very much embraced the functional role… point forward in 11 games for AEK, even when counted – as tonight – according to the traditional nine, even if he shows that he is looking for the goal, he no longer judges him if he notices it.

To keep Zero at the back (credit goes mainly to Stankovic, who did his job again in the only two moments he had to intervene), to emerge with a win by more than one goal, to reach the AEK match in the 90th and there should be no pressure or fatigue, Searching for something, the secondary team demands it even with…the dead achieved.

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Considering the controversy that the ‘Black and Yellows’ pulled out before tonight’s match – 7 in 21 days – and what followed after the second break of the year, this ‘dead’ seems to be the most important.