Xanthi looking for a new away win against Panathinaikos
We have five matches available today but the one that has got my attention is the one Panathinaikos against Xanthi at Apostolos Nikolaidis. The Greens come from an emphatic midweek away win against Levadiakos (0-4) recovering their home defeat from Atromitos (1-2). Xanthi also returned to wins in the last home match against OFI (2-1) and they have reasons to hope on a positive result as the Greens are not reliable at home (4W-1D-3L, goals 11-8); in fact they are doing when they play away (4W-2D-2L, goals 15-7). For the record Xanthi won Panathinaikos at home last season (0-1).
To the previews and betting picks for the Sunday matches:
PAOK vs. LEVADIAKOS
Atromitos made things difficult for PAOK after their goal during the first half (26’) especially since they concentrated on defense for the rest of the match to hold on to their advantage. The players of PAOK were relatively in control, had more attempts on goal (Atromitos had only 5 vs. 11 for PAOK) but they had many difficulties in scoring like in their recent match against Apollon (0-0). They deserved their goal at 90’ although it came late in the match and kept them away from a possible win.
Levadiakos was easily defeated in the last home match against Panathinaikos (0-4). Despite their five consecutive home wins before that, they never reached their expected hope performance. Panathinaikos was better in every aspect and their defeat was fair giving a headache to Mr. Karageorgiou. The experienced coach was not pleased to see his players returning to the problematic performances they had before he took over.
Betting Pick: Exact scores 4-0 @ 9.00, 4-1 @ 19.00 and 5-1 @ 34.00
If Panathinaikos can win Levadiakos by 0-4 then so can PAOK. The same thing happened with Kalloni and I expect the players of the home side to have a proper finish of the first round. I do not expect they will be in position to claim the title but their quality allows them to emphatically get what they want when they play at Toumba. After the shock in the home draw (0-0) against Apollon I find it very difficult for any of the weak teams to survive there and Levadiakos is just too weak when playing away (0W-1D-7L, goals 7-19).
PLATANIAS vs. PANIONIOS
Platanias was easily defeated in the last away match against Panetolikos (3-0) despite the high expectations for a positive result. The players of Mr. Anastopoulos never caused any real problems to their opponents despite their recent great home performance against Xanthi (3-0). Now they return at home where they are stronger (2W-5D-1L, goals 12-10) and they have a motive to get back to wins to gain some distance from the relegation places.
The sudden change at the bench of Panionios worked and the team returned to wins in the midweek home match against Veria (2-1). Mr. Panagopoulos is well aware of the team as he was also called up to this duty last season when Mr. Eleftheropoulos left. His task for more positive results is not expected to be easy as his team might be talented but the players are not getting paid due to the financial problems of the club.
Betting Pick: Both teams to score @ 2.40
Last season Mr. Panagopoulos managed to keep the players focused in their game but when their enthusiasm from the change at the bench was over the negative results continued. Their no scoring streak was ended with their two goals against Veria and I do expect them to score today against Platanias. The home team is strong at Perivolia but they often fail to get the result they want, even when they take the lead.
Considering the performances I have seen from those two since the season started I will risk saying that the halftime/fulltime options Panionios/Platanias @ 34.00 and Platanias/Panionios @ 100.00 should not be ignored.
ASTERAS TRIPOLIS vs. VERIA
Asteras Tripolis failed to get the win in the last away match against Aris (1-1) where they were more dangerous than their opponent in offense (20 attempts on goal vs. 7 for Aris). Their inability to score a second goal to end the match allowed the home team to get the point of a draw after their goal at 65’ by Aganzo who had also lost a penalty kick only five minutes earlier. Now they will return at home where they much stronger and undefeated (5W-3D-0L, goals 17-7).
Veria comes from a midweek defeat in last away match against Panionios (2-1). Their opponent was better and added a lot of pressure but things could be a lot different for them if Kadimiris was more careful at his exit at 84’ which offered Kolovos one of the easiest goals of his career. The goalkeeper was very unlucky as he would probably be the MVP of that match after his many difficult saves throughout the match that kept Veria at 1-1 until that unfortunate moment.
Betting Pick: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.10
Asteras is doing very well at home where they have scored 17 out of their 22 goals this season. I understand why the bookies keep offering low odds on their home wins but I insist they are weaker than last season and I cannot accept these odds. Veria is too desperate for points but they are very weak when playing away (0W-3D-5L, goals 4-16) and I cannot trust them for a win. I do expect them to fight though and for this reason this option looks great even if Asteras will have to score all goals on their own.
KALLONI vs. ERGOTELIS
Note: This match will be held at OAKA because the construction works that are still in progress at the venue of Kalloni.
Kalloni lost the last away match against Panthrakikos as expected (2-0) and they are currently on a losing streak of four matches. The players of Mr. Matzourakis are the only team without a draw so far and despite their 6 wins they are still close to the relegation places. The match against Ergotelis is considered extremely important as the two teams have the same goals for this season and the truth is that their opponent is not the tough team they used to be in the first matches.
Ergotelis had a new poor performance in defense and they paid with the midweek home draw against Apollon (2-2). Their great performances are long gone and their last win was against Panthrakikos six weeks ago (0W-2D-3L, goals 5-11 since then). The win against Kalloni is also important for them as they are in a free fall in the standings.
Betting Pick: The Draw @ 3.25
Both teams come from very poor defensive performances and the last thing they need is a new defeat. Considering that Apollon lost from Olympiakos and Veria is not expected to win in the away match against Asteras, I expect them to settle with the draw and look to heal their weaknesses during the break. If I remember correctly this is the first time I am after the draw in a match that Kalloni is involved and they statistically owe us one.
PANATHINAIKOS vs. XANTHI
Panathinaikos quickly recovered the home defeat from Atromitos in the midweek convincing away win against Levadiakos (0-4). The Greens have no problems in scoring despite that Figueroa is no longer with them and their main problem is their defensive behavior which has cost them many points until now. Coach Anastassiou still gets the most out of his relatively weak and inexperienced roster and they deserve to be in a Playoff placement. They are all aware that the match against Xanthi will not be easy but the good news is that their opponent is not as strong when playing away.
Xanthi got back to wins in the midweek match against OFI (2-1) but their opponent deserved more. OFI surprised them with their performance during the second half and in fact they should thank the referee for not awarding a penalty kick and sending off a player in a very critical point allowing them to hold on to their win. The next match against Panathinaikos at Apostolos Nikolaidis is not expected to be easy as they are much weaker away from Skoda Xanthi Arena (1W-2D-5L, goals 8-17).
Betting Pick: Both teams to score @ 2.00
Panathinaikos was supposed to be more dangerous in home matches this season but the numbers tell us otherwise (4W-1D-3L, goals 11-8). So far it has been extremely difficult for them to keep a clean sheet in two consecutive matches and Soltani and Solari can take advantage of this. Panathinaikos can win this match but the odds are so low that I prefer to risk on the option of Over 2.5 goals @ 2.10 which is more probable even if the Greens will have a new negative result tonight.