Fostiras can be the bomb of Day 1
The result of the opening match (win of Olympiakos Volou @ 5.50) was a very promising start for what is about to follow. Just DO NOT accept low odds at this moment. There is a long way to go until the 14 match days will be completed and I am very confident more results like this one will come. The journalists were on a 24 hour strike yesterday causing a delay on my research for today’s matches. I had to wait until this morning to start gathering the necessary information.
Here are the previews and betting picks:
CHANIA vs. IRAKLIS PSACHNON
Chania made it to the Playoffs mainly because of the points they gathered in the first round (8W-4D-1L, goals 17-6). In the 13 matches that followed they were not as good 5W-5D-3L (goals 12-7) but they got the second place mainly because of the fight that was going on in the teams beneath them. Coach Seropyan will have a full roster for the first match and the officials of the club have asked for the support of all their fans.
Iraklis Psachnon was the luckiest team of the season. Their defeat in the last match day from Fostiras (1-0 at 94’!) almost left them out of the Playoffs and they should thank Panaigialeios for finally making it. Their main opponent for the fourth place of Group 1 could have taken their place with a win against Episkopi who had no motive for points. The final result of that match was a draw (1-1), Panaigialeios and Iraklis Psachnon ended up having the same points which gave the team from Euboea the advantage! The coach, Mr. Thomas Ghrafas stated that he did not like the way his team got the fourth place. The fact is they did, and if they manage to promote, they will be the first team from this district to do it after 46 years! Needless to say the whole island (second largest and second most populous in Greece) is on their side.
Betting Pick: The handicap win of Iraklis Psachnon (+0.5) @ 1.95
I was not able to locate any problems or absences for the two rivals. Chania were strong at home in regular season (8W-4D-1L, goals 18-6) but many of their wins had only one goal difference. Iraklis Psachnon has the weakest away behavior (4W-4D-5L, goals 11-10) from all the teams that made it here. Theoretically the home team is a favorite for the win but do not underestimate the historic motive of Psachna. If the home win was offered at 2.00+ I would go for it. Odds like 1.80 can only make me choose the other side. I find the Draw @ 3.20 more probable than the away win though.
IRAKLIS 1908 vs. FOSTIRAS
*On 25/03/14 the defeat from Anagennisi Karditsas (2-1) was followed by the news that Mr. Guillermo Hoyos (coach of Iraklis) was fired. The chairman of the club, Mr. Thodoris Papadopoulos, harried up to replace him with Mr. Tennes but his action was not accepted by most players. The chairman changed his mind and asked Mr. Hoyos to return. For a couple of days things were complicated with Mr. Hoyos stating to the press there are traitors in the club. The incident was over and Iraklis got the win (and the playoff place) in the last match against Zakynthos (2-1). On Monday 07/04/14 the chairman made an interesting statement. He said that it is impossible for him to run the team alone any more. Don’t you think he chose a very bad moment to do so?
*The players of Fostiras will not return in Athens after the match. They will stay in Thessaloniki because of the upcoming match against Aiginiakos because this city is closer to the district of Pieria.
I expected better things from Iraklis this season, especially during the second round when they should be more motivated. Instead they finished with four defeats in their last eight matches. Mr. Hoyos has the support of the players but I cannot help wondering why their chairman chose this moment to make this negative statement. Could it be possible they cannot afford to promote?
Injured: Taianan (MID/15/3 goals), Bamba (FWD/19)
Fostiras was the big surprise of the second round in Group 1. Mr. Jacky Mathijssen and his players were 10 pts away from the Playoffs when the first round ended, just above relegation. With 10W-3D-0L in the second round they showed how badly they wanted their shot in promotion. Most experts find it difficult to see them making it mainly because the club relies on the same players every week and they do not have as many solutions to their roster as other clubs do. So far their determination and enthusiasm was enough but they also had to face a lot of indifferent teams on their way. The Playoffs will be their big test but one thing is certain; they must NOT be underestimated. There are no absences reported for the first match.
Betting Pick: X2 double chance @ 2.75
Fostiras has already won away more difficult opponents than Iraklis this season. To be honest I was surprised to see so low odds on the home win, especially when they have not shown they overcame their crisis. The win of Fostiras @ 7.50 is a value bet that must not be ignored.
NIKI VOLOU vs. AIGINIAKOS
Niki Volou was very steady all season constantly occupying the second place in the standings. Their emphatic finish with six consecutive clean sheet wins (6W-0D-0D, goals 15-0) showed the intensions of the club for the Playoffs. There are very strong at home (10W-2D-1L, goals 26-3) and this is where they are expected to gather most of their points. There have not been any reports for problems or absences and Mr. Vosniadis will have all his players available for this match.
Aiginiakos made it to the Playoffs with great performances and wins that mostly came in the second round. With 10W-3D-0L and goals 28-5 they are expected to cause many problems to all their opponents. They actually have the best offense and the second best defense from all the teams of the Playoffs if we consider only the matches of the second round. Mr. Nikolaidis will have to deal with two absences for the first match against Niki Volou. His team had good away performances during the regular season (6W-4D-3L, goals 20-9) and one of them was in this stadium on Day 18, when they won their today’s opponent (0-1).
Injured: Lazaridis (FWD/6)
Banned: Fabinho (MID/21/1 goal)
Betting Pick: The Draw @ halftime @ 2.00
Aiginiakos was the only team to escape with a win from Panthessaliko Stadium this season and I bet that the players of Niki Volou have not forgotten it. I expect the home team to be more careful this time. The good defenses of both clubs will probably give a low score here. My next option will be the Halftime/Fulltime bet Draw/Niki Volou @ 4.20 which pays a lot better than another underrated home win.
You may read some of my thoughts about the eight rivals here. This article was written a few days ago and it contains almost everything I have on my mind. I hope you will find it useful.