All places are still open
The decision of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO in Greek) to deduct three points from PAOK has changed everything in the Playoffs. The results of Day 2 and the riots that took place in last home match of Panathinaikos against PAOK (1-1) may bring more penalties for both teams which were favorites for the first place. Asteras Tripolis and Atromitos now have an excellent chance to claim a Champions League placement and all the benefits that come with it. Nevertheless things from now on will be very interesting until the last match day.
The previews and betting picks for Day 3:
PAOK vs. ATROMITOS
*PAOK is facing a severe penalty for the behavior of the supporters at Apostolos Nikolaidis. The regulation is very strict especially when the fans of any club cause problems in a short period of time. We are not just talking about a fine and matches behind closed doors but for a new point deduction (-3 pts).
*Atromitos has a good history against PAOK with 4W-5D-1L in the last 10 matches (home and away).
*Behind closed doors.
PAOK had an average performance in the last away match against Panathinaikos (1-1) but they did manage to get a very important point. Salpiggidis, the player that has taken most of the heat from the fans lately, punished the Greens for deciding to protect their 1-0 advantage instead of securing their win. His goal at 84’ kept PAOK alive in the Playoffs but the celebrations ended quickly after the decision of the Hellenic Football Federation. It will be very interesting to see if the players will find the strength to claim the last goal of the season against all odds.
Banned: Insuarralde (DEF/8)
Injured: Maduro (DEF/9/2 goals), Katsouranis (MID/26/2 goals/3 assists)
Doubtful: Skondras (DEF/17)
Atromitos had an average performance in the last away match against Asteras Tripolis (1-0). The players of Mr. Paraschos did not have the confidence that characterized them in regular season’s matches. Their defeat was erased after the great news for the point deduction of PAOK which improved their place in the standings. The team has a positive history against PAOK and they had an undefeated streak until the match of the second round at Toumba (2-0) when they made things much more difficult for the home side than the final scored shows. There are no reports for problems or absences.
Betting Pick: The win of Atromitos (+0.5) @ 2.20
The supporters of PAOK helped the team stay undefeated in regular season (16W-1D-0L, goals 41-8) but they also the source of their problems with their fanatic behavior. PAOK would have probably won the home match against Asteras Tripolis (1-1) if the fans were supporting the players instead of constantly criticizing them (influenced by the humiliation in the Cup Final).
Considering how tough Atromitos can be even after an average performance I will risk saying that they will not lose today. The fact this match is held behind closed doors can help them in their search for a positive result. The win of Atromitos @ 5.00 is the value bet I cannot ignore.
ASTERAS TRIPOLIS vs. PANATHINAIKOS
*Panathinaikos is in danger of point deduction and a big fine for the riots that took place in the home match against PAOK last weekend.
Asteras Tripolis deserved to win the last home match against Atromitos (1-0). The team was in control for most of the match, they were more dangerous (attempts on goal 10-7) and the goal of Barrales at 60’ was proven enough to give them the three points. Their two positive results (against PAOK and Atromitos) combined with the point deduction for PAOK have eliminated their difference from the rest of the teams. A win against Panathinaikos today will allow Asteras to claim the first place and get closer to the dream of the Champions League.
Banned: N’ Daw (MID/25/3 goals)
Panathinaikos was more dangerous than PAOK especially during the first half when they took the lead after a beautiful goal by Petrić at 20’. The Greens seemed more eager to hold on to their advantage than securing the win and this became more obvious during the second half. Salpiggidis warned them a couple of times and punished at 84’ by scoring the equalizer. Coach Anastassiou and his players must now look for the win in the away match against Asteras Tripolis in order to take advantage of the point deduction for PAOK. There is no room for any other result as the team is waiting a penalty for what happened in the last match. There are two important problems reported.
Injured: Bajrami (MID/8), Maroto (MID/32/2 goals/6 assists)
Doubtful: Karelis (FWD/27/5 goals/7 assists)
Betting Pick: Both teams to score @ 2.00
This is a very important match for both sides. Asteras has an excellent chance to take the lead in the Playoffs and they must never be underestimated when playing at home (10W-6D-1L in regular season). At the same time Panathinaikos is as dangerous regardless of where they play but I cannot underestimate the absence of their key player, Maroto. He has been a great help in both defense and offense this season and my opinion is that there is no one at the roster to replace him.
Both teams are very dangerous in offense and I doubt any of them will keep a clean sheet. I expect to see a result of Over 2.50 goals @ 2.30 as none of them is reliable when their defense is under pressure.