New coach for Xanthi, tragic accident for Chairman Panopoulos
There is no doubt that the easy win of Giannina against Xanthi (0-3) was the last thing anyone could expect on Day 23. Mr. Maurer resigned after that match which can only be characterized as the worst performance of the team this season (if not more). Mr. Kehagias was announced from the club on Thursday but his task to take the team back to wins became even harder after the tragic news for Mr. Panopoulos. The Chairman of the club, who is known for his eccentric criticism from time to time, was involved in a car accident where two men died. Investigation is in progress and as you can understand the tragic news was a shock to everyone.
Three matches will be held today for Day 24 and the one that is expected to attract most of the attention is the domestic battle of Crete where Platanias will face Ergotelis. The previews and betting picks:
PLATANIAS vs. ERGOTELIS
Note: This match is considered a domestic battle for the island of Crete. We should keep in mind though that the two clubs have played three friendly matches this season (03/08, 11/08, 29/12).
As we expected, Platanias focused on defense in the last away match against Panthrakikos but they did not avoid the defeat (1-0). A goal of Ladakis at 70’ made all the difference for the home team (they also had an attempt stopped at the bar at 30’) in a match without many attempts on goal (8 vs. 7). Platanias lost good chances to score the equalizer at 89’ (foul kick Vlachodimos) and 94’ (shot by Torres from close range). Rumors want the officials of Platanias to be already in a search of a new coach as Mr. Anastopoulos has only one home win against PAOK (2-1) in the last six matches. The goal against Ergotelis will be the win at all cost.
Injured: Zouboulakis (DEF/10), Zaradoukas (DEF/new transfer), Nazlidis (MID/7/4 goals)
Banned: Tetteh (DEF/20/2 goals)
The change at the bench has worked for Ergotelis and Mr. Ouzounidis got his second consecutive win, this time at home against Veria (2-0). Things were not as easy as the final score shows because Veria resisted a lot, they had an attempt at the bar 76’ while the score was still 1-0 (56’ Diamantakos) and they received the second at 86’ after a counter attack by the home team which was completed with a fantastic shot by Badimanga. Mr. Ouzounidis was very pleased with the win that took Ergotelis 5 points away from relegation and he now will have a chance to “revenge” a club that sacked him on 04/11/13 after 10 matches at the bench.
Injured: Anastassakos (FWD/18/4 goals)
Banned: Cardozo (MID/19), Romano (MID/19/2 goals/1 assist)
Betting pick: The win of Platanias @ 1.75
The motive of Platanias for the win is very strong, especially if we consider they will probably lose their next match against Olympiakos at Karaiskakis. They have the home strength (4W-5D-2L, goals 15-13) to succeed but it will not be easy because Ergotelis is a tough opponent to break when they play away (2W-5D-4L, goals 6-12). I really doubt that Ergotelis will be interested in pushing another club from Crete deeper in relegation, especially now that they are safer in the standings. I must warn you that the odds on the home win are very low for the risk involved. I would expect it to be offered at 2.00-2.10.
APOLLON SMYRNIS vs. SKODA XANTHI
Coach Sanchez was pleased with the draw in the last away match of Apollon against Levadiakos. The home team missed a great chance to score at 7’ after a header by Kotsios but the player scored with a new one at 62’ to give Levadiakos the lead. Apollon added pressure for the rest of the match and their late goal at 89’ by Ambrose gave them a point they deserved. Their good performances since the end of November (3W-5D-3L) have not got them out of the relegation places. The midweek rematch for the Cup against PAOK is not expected to influence the team as the score of the first match (3-0) leaves no room for hope. After all, their main goal is to save the season in Super League and if they keep up playing like they do, they can make it.
Injured: Soouza (DEF/1), Diamantis (MID/7)
Banned: Delizissis (DEF/21/1 goal), Farinola (FWD/19/2 goals/3 assists)
The last home defeat of Xanthi from Giannina (0-3) was definitely their worst performance this season. Their opponent warned them with the attempt at the bar at 7’ and they scored a few seconds later (same minute!). The two goals that followed at 31’ and 58’ ended the game a lot earlier than expected with Xanthi having a total of 5 attempts on goal after 90 minutes. Coach Maurer resigned after the match and he was replaced by Mr. Kehagias who was also at the bench for one match on September 2013 (Xanthi vs. Aris 2-0) as a temporary replacement for coach Karageorgiou. His goal will be to take the team back to wins starting from today.
Other: Garcia (MID/3) was not included in the roster for this match and this caused his reaction to leave before the training was over. In the last home match against Giannina, he looked disturbed when Mr. Maurer replaced him at 46’. This kind of behavior caused his place in his former club (PAOK) despite the fact that the fans worshiped him and the same is expected to happen now.
Betting Pick: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.10
I do know if you recall the match of the first round between these two clubs (3-2). Apollon was quite bad at that period, they took the lead by 0-2 but they lost at the end mainly because they stopped pressing after the second goal. They are much stronger now and their recent performances allow them to hope they will save the season at the end. Their last five matches at Rizoupoli had three goals or more and I would expect the same to happen today. The change at the bench of Xanthi can help them improve but they will need the assistance of Solari (FWD/23/11 goals) and Soltani (FWD/19/4 goals) who have been away from good performances lately. Considering their form, I would pick Apollon if I had to choose for a winner but the odds are low for the risk involved.
VERIA vs. OLYMPIAKOS
Coach Dostanić is under a lot of pressure after the new away defeat of Veria against Ergotelis (2-0). They fought hard during the match but Ergotelis managed to take the lead at 56’ with Diamantakos. Veria was forced to add pressure for the equalizer, they finished the match with more attempts on goal than their opponent (7 vs. 9) but once again they paid the price for their scoring difficulties. They also had an attempt at the bar at 76’ with Trapp but everything ended when they received a second goal at 86’ after a counter attack. They are forced to look for points against any team for the rest of season but things against Olympiakos are not expected to be easy at all.
Injured: Apostolopoulos (MID/12)
Banned: Amarantidis (DEF/20)
Olympiakos comes from a new win, this time at home against Panionios (2-0) after 20-25 minutes of good performance in the first half. The first goal came at 11’ (Samaris, foul kick) and the second at 18’ (Šćepović) but the Champions stopped there despite their good chances that followed. Panionios improved during the second half while the players of Olympiakos were in training mode and they came close to get back in the match at 79’ when Mitropoulos’ attempt stopped at the bar. Coach Míchel is working on improving the performances of his team before the important midweek away re-match for the Cup against Atromitos (first match 0-0 at Karaiskakis) and, of course, the difficult two matches against Manchester United for the Champions League.
Injured: Siovas (DEF/11), Fuster (MID/16/3 goals)
Other: Holebas (DEF/15/2 goals/1 assist), Salino (MID/14/1 assist) and Machado (MID/11/2 goals) are out to rest.
Betting Pick: Olympiakos (-1.5) to win @ 1.70
Last season, Veria complained a lot after the home match of the first round against Olympiakos (1-2) for a decision of the referee that altered the result of the match. They also resisted in the match of the second round for one half but they lost again by 3-0. This season they paid the price for their protest in the match of the first round. Olympiakos demolished their defense at Karaiskakis (6-0) and I must say I would expect something similar to happen today. Veria has the worst defense of the league (39 goals) and Olympiakos has a roster full of players than can do some serious damage no matter what the lineup is. The home team neither has the morale not the quality to stand up to the Champions. For this reason the win of Olympiakos (-2.5) @ 2.75 has some extra value tonight.