Special attention to PAOK and Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos humiliated PAOK in the Cup Final (1-4) and celebrated the first trophy after four years. The consequences of this result will most probably be shown today. Will the Greens remain focused or they will underestimate Atromitos? Will PAOK find the strength to claim the second Playoff place and succeed in the only goal that is left for them (Champions League Qualifiers) or they will collapse? We will soon find out.
The previews and betting picks for Day 1 in Super League’s Playoffs:
ATROMITOS vs. PANATHINAIKOS
Atromitos was one of the best teams during the regular season and they totally deserve their place in the Playoffs. Many believe they will not manage to hold until the end because coach Paraschos does not have as many solutions in his roster as the rest of the coaches do. Nevertheless Atromitos is not an opponent anyone wants to underestimate, especially when they play at Peristeri where they are still undefeated with a very strong home record (12W-5D-0L, goals 33-6). Keep in mind that they have not had an official match since 13/04/14 so they players got some more rest than PAOK and Panathinaikos.
Banned: Theologou (DEF/1)
Injured: Fytanidis (DEF/28/2 assists)
The youngsters of Mr. Anastassiou come from a triumph in the Cup Final against PAOK (1-4). They were under pressure while the score was at 0-1 but the dominated the second half with Berg having a hat-trick in the most important match of the season. The morale of the team is superb and the coach has asked the players to forget the Final and concentrated on their next match. There are no important absences reported.
Injured: Bajrami (MID/8), Ntinas (FWD/16/1 goal/1 assist)
Betting Pick: Both teams to score @ 2.00
It is very hard to keep Atromitos away from scoring when they play at Peristeri. At the same time Panathinaikos is the second most dangerous away team in Super League after Olympiakos (8W-4D-5L, goals 26-14) and they seem to be in a great form. The same match was repeated quite recently (29/03/14) and the final score (0-0) was a big surprise to me. I seriously doubt they will repeat it.
PAOK vs. ASTERAS TRIPOLIS
The humiliating defeat of PAOK from Panathinaikos in the Cup Final (1-4) was the least thing anyone expected. Almost 22.000 supporters travelled from Thessaloniki to Athens to attend the match at OAKA because they believed this the time had arrived to celebrate a trophy. For one more match, PAOK was a big disappointment away from Toumba. The owner of the club, Mr. Savidis, was furious after the defeat and so were the fans of the club. Some of them (almost 100) were at the next training and started making accusations at the players for being indifferent. The center of their attention was Salpiggidis (he was left out because he was devastated) and Katsouranis. Coach Georgiadis is trying to find a way to overcome the poor morale of the team but he will have to deal with important absences. Toumba will not be crowded today and the fans that will attend this match will not tolerate a new poor performance. The good news is that PAOK is the strongest home team in Super League with a strong record of 16W-1D-0L (goals 41-8).
Banned: Kitsiou (MID/27/1 goal), Lazăr (MID/23/2 goals/2 assists)
Injured: Maduro (DEF/9/2 goals), Katsouranis (MID/26/2 goals/3 assists), Hoesen (FWD/10/1 goal/1 assist)
Other: Salpiggidis (FWD/30/8 goals/2 assists)
Asteras Tripolis deserved to hold the fifth place in the standings after the regular season but my overall impression is they did not deserve to have so many points. I remember at least 3-4 matches where they got the three points without even deserving one. Nevertheless they are a very dangerous team with many talented players in offense and any of them can make the difference in a match. Coach Verghetis is aware of the difficulties of the next match against PAOK but his players had more time to rest (last match on 13/04/14) and they are also less stressed for the win which makes them even more dangerous. There are no absences reported.
Betting Pick: Both teams to score @ 2.20
I spent most of the regular season betting on the home wins of PAOK with two goals or more. This time things are different. There is too much pressure on the players, there are important absences reported and the worst of all is that the fans that will attend this match will probably make things worse by criticizing the players for the first minute. I expect to see both sides scoring and the one that will do it twice (over 2.5 goals @ 2.10) will claim the win.
Considering all the above, the handicap win (+0.5) of Asteras Tripolis @ 2.75 or just the win of Asteras Tripolis @ 7.00 are great value bets that should not be ignored.