LEVEL PEGGING

The Europa League match played between Panathinaikos and Lazio at Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis on Thursday has ended in a draw. Both the teams scored one goal each.

This was the third match for Panathinaikos in the ongoing Europa League. The Panathinaikos team hasn’t managed to secure victory in any of those three matches. The team has lost one match, while, the remaining two matches have finished without any result. Panathinaikos currently has two points in 3 games.

This was the third Europa League game for Lazio as well. Lazio had won one out of its previous two games, while, the remaining one had finished without any result. Lazio currently has four points in 3 matches.

The match was played at the home ground of Panathinaikos and a large number of spectators turned up to enjoy the encounter. It turned out to be a fantastic football match.

Lazio got the lead in the 25th minute of the match courtesy of an own goal from Giourkas Seitraidis. Lazio maintained that lead till the 89th minute of the match. It seemed that the Panathinaikos team might have to suffer its second defeat in the tournament, but, that didn’t happen.  The Panathinaikos players should be credited for showing tremendous composure towards the end of the match.

Panathinaikos managed to level the scores in the very last minute of the match with the goal of Toche. It was a great shot by the Spanish striker under pressure. Vitolo was the one who set up the goal for Toche.

In the post match press conference, the manager of Panathinaikos, Jesualdo Ferreira said, “The boys showed great character under pressure. We played wonderfully well in the last 15 minutes. Apart from that own goal, we didn’t make too many mistakes in the match and I think we deserved three points. But, that’s the way it goes. You don’t always get what you deserve. Overall, I am very happy with my team’s performance.”

SPURS NOT COMPACENT AGAINST GREEKS

The Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has said that complacency was not the problem in the recent Europa league match against Panathinaikos. The Premier league club were taking on the Greek club in the group stages of the Europa league looking to get their first win of the season. However, they were once again denied a chance to victory after they could only manage a 1-1 draw in the match. The Greek club was extremely organised in defence, while also being very penetrative in attack. This combination meant that Tottenham could not get past them despite having much better players in the form of Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale, and Aaron Lennon.

Panathinaikos are currently 12th in the Greek league and are not expected to finish in the European places this time around. However, they showed that they are looking to make the most out of the chance to compete in the European competition by playing well in the group stages and progressing to the next round. There are currently in a group containing the likes of Lazio and Tottenham, which makes it extremely difficult for them to think about the next round. Michael Dawson scored after just 35 min, but it took a goal from Toché to equalise the match in the 77 min.

“I don’t think we were complacent. We have to give credit to Panathinaikos; they pressed much more and started to gain belief from that, which led to the goal. I think the whole team felt a bit disappointed because the first half was so positive and we were in control of the situation. We were a bit sloppy in the second half. I understand the disappointment at not putting the game to bed,” said the Tottenham manager after the match. Tottenham will now focus on their attention in the Premier league.

BOUMSONG HAS EXPERIENCE

Panathinaikos player Jean-Alain Boumsong has said that he has enough experience of playing in the Champions League to know the difficulty of overcoming a first leg defeat. Panathinaikos lost in the first leg of the Champions League qualifying rounds at the hands of the Spanish club Malaga 2-0. Only very few teams have managed to overcome a first leg defeat, which is the reason for Jean-Alain Boumsong’s pessimism ahead of the match. However, the player has said that he has utmost confidence in his team and that they will be able to overturn the deficit into a victory that will see the club into the group stages of the Champions League.

One of the main advantages of Panathinaikos in the efforts to overcome the deficit is the home support according to the defender. Due to the fact that Panathinaikos will be playing at home, the home support are really going to be up for the game despite the first leg defeat. Having the second leg at home has always been a huge advantage for teams in the Champions League. Due to his experience in this competition, Jean-Alain Boumsong knows that that tie could easily swing in favour of Panathinaikos.

“You saw the opportunities we had in the closing stages of the game. Those chances will act as a source of optimism for us on Tuesday. Let’s hope that we create more goalscoring moments at home, where we must also look to be more successful in executing our own game plan. We knew Málaga were going to try to make us run and to pull us out of position so I insisted on the fact that we had to be more aggressive,” said the defender ahead of the match. The 32-year-old is also one of the most experienced members of the squad.

WE CAN DO IT

Panserraikos will be hoping that they can prevent Veria from lifting the title for the final game of the season. Veria have the ability to win the title this season provided they win their last match of the season against Panserraikos. It would be easier said than done because Panserraikos are a team with full of quality. However, they need to be wary of the Veria striker Calvin Kadi, who has been on the winning side on numerous occasions in recent months. In addition to this, he has also scored 17 goals in just 30 matches for the club. He is once again expected to be the danger man for Veria.

The South African striker is expected to become one of the top players in the league next season. Other South African players have already started their holidays, but only a handful of players still remained in contention in various leagues across the world. Waseem Isaacs, whose plays as the right back for Bafana Bafana, has said that he wants to continue winning. He was influential in the team that won their most recent match against Tatran Liptovský Mikuláš 1-0. Waseem Isaacs was previously playing as a right winger, but he has been converted into a defender at Slovakian second-tier club Zemplin Michalovce.

Even though Zemplin Michalovce do not have the opportunity to achieve either promotion or relegation this season, Waseem Isaacs has said that he wants to play in the remaining two matches of the club. The club are currently sitting in the middle of the table with nothing to play for in the remainder of the matches. Meanwhile, Bradley Ralani will be hoping to return from injury for the match against Hammarby. His Swedish second division club Landskrona will be taking on Hammarby on Monday.

PANSERRAIKOS INTO THE QUARTERS

Greek second division club Panserraikos qualified for the quarter-finals of the Greek cup. Other clubs who qualified along with Panserraikos include the likes of PAOK and OFI. PAOK were playing against AEK and they needed the help of a controversial penalty in order to get past the first knockout stages.

The quarter-finals of the competition will present a great opportunity for second division club Panserraikos to show what they can do at this stage of the competition. They will also be looking to use this experience to guide them to the top flight of Greek football.

PAOK secured the lead in the first half after a controversial penalty gave them the opportunity to do so. They extended the lead in the second half after Stefanos Athanasiadis scored the goal. The 2-0 score was enough to beat AEK, which also eliminated them from the competition. Following the match, there was some disagreement between AEK and the referees of the match.

Panserraikos have been known for quite some time as the giant killing club, and they cemented their reputation by beating Xanthi 2-0 in an away match. Xanthi were playing at home, but were still not able to get past the second division club in the form of Panserraikos.

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Panserraikos Future Unsure

Panserraikos’ future is still unsure after the Greek Super League clubs voted against extending the league to 18 teams. with just days before the league is due to kick off, Panserraikos still don’t know which division they will be playing in!

Most fans had written off Panserraikos’ chances of being in the Super League this season after some abject performances, which left them rock-bottom after the first 5 games. Their position didn’t improve for the rest of the season, and the Greek minnows finished in the relagation zone.

So far so normal (though so sad!) but it all gets complicated from here on in. In the off-season it was found that both Olympiakos Volos and Kavala were guilty of match-fixing, and were demoted from the Super League. There were arguements that the relegated sides (including Penserraikos) should be allowed to take their place, but there were also commentators arguing that the teams that finished in fourth and fifth should be promoted instead.

With four teams trying to lay a claim on 4 spaces, the Super League board met to consider accepting all four teams into the league, to avoid a lengthy legal challenge by whichever clubs were left out.

Last week the Super League convened to vote on whether to extend the league to 18 clubs, but it was decided that the Super League should stay at its current 16 clubs.

No-one is quite sure where this leaves my beloved Panserraikos, but we will see… I’ll keep you posted!