Panathinaikos in need of a win against PAOK

The rivalry battle at Apostolos Nikolaidis is definitely the most important match of Day 24. Panathinaikos has not won in the last two matches and their midweek defeat from Asteras made them lose the fourth place in the standings. Regardless of the final result in the match of Atromitos against Asteras Tripolis the Greens must win and to stay close to the rest of the Playoff teams as there are still many matches ahead for all of them.

The previews and betting picks for the Sunday matches:

ATROMITOS vs. ASTERAS TRIPOLIS

Atromitos was surprised by Kalloni in their midweek home match (2-0). Their opponent looked more dangerous in the first 20-25 minutes but as the home team was improving, the red card at Fourlanos (40’) gave them a great advantage for the win. They scored three minutes later with Iglesias and Karamanos doubled their goals at 67’ to lock the win. Iglesias missed a penalty kick at 72’ to expand their winning margin. Atromitos is running an undefeated streak of 12 matches in Super League (8W-4D-0L) which become 15 (10W-5D) if we add the Cup matches and their last defeat was on 10/11/13 in the away match against Panionios. The team will also have the midweek home rematch against Olympiakos (first match 0-0) to claim a place at the Semi-Finals.

Injured: Papadopoulos (FWD/23/9 goals/3 assists)

Banned: Iglesias (MID/19/6 goals)

Asteras Tripolis did not deserve the win in the last home match against Panathinaikos (1-0). The players of Mr. Verghetis were under a lot of pressure during the first half and seemed unable to cause any problems to the Greens. Their goal came from a defensive mistake from Zeca at 54’ and they spent the rest of the match defending their advantage. The players of Panathinaikos looked shocked after the goal and they failed to repeat the performance of the first half where they were very dangerous. Nevertheless, considering the performance of the two clubs throughout that match the draw would probably be fairer. Asteras is now running an undefeated streak of nine matches (6W-3D-0L).

Injured: Navarro (FWD/14/1 goal)

Banned: Barrales (FWD/19/5 goals/1 assist)

Betting Pick: The draw at halftime @ 1.90

I believe that both teams will be very careful in this match. None of them wants to see their undefeated streak coming to an end. The absences of Iglesias and Papadopoulos are very important for Atromitos who is unlucky enough to have a very important match ahead. I am under the impression that both teams will settle with a draw @ 3.10 today.

GIANNINA vs. PANETOLIKOS

Giannina got the first away win of the season in their midweek match against Xanthi (0-3). It was very clear that the morale of the team was improved after the arrival of Mr. Petrakis but no one could expect to see them having their best performance of the season in an away match. They warned Xanthi with their attempt at the bar at 7’, they scored a few seconds later and their second goal at 31’ made it clear Xanthi would need a miracle to come back. Giannina dominated their opponent who was on a bad day with one more goal at 58’ while they had one more attempt at the bar (74’) and more chances to score. Mr. Petrakis is pleased to have a full roster for the next match against Panetolikos where the goal will be a new win.

Banned: –

Injured: –

Panetolikos comes from a home draw against Aris (0-0). The heavy rain throughout the match ruined the efforts of both teams as the field had become a pool of mud. Aris took advantage of it and concentrated on defense trying to hit with (unsuccessful) counter attacks. Panetolikos was average during the first half but they improved and added pressure during the second. The field condition and the massive defensive play of their opponent made it impossible to turn any of their 13 attempts into a goal. There are no important problems for the next difficult match against Giannina.

Banned: –

Injured: Budimir (FWD/3)

Betting Pick: The win of Giannina @ 2.15

Even at their worst moments this season, Giannina have proven they are a reliable home team (8W-0D-4L). Panetolikos was very good in the last three away matches against PAOK (defeat 1-0), Ergotelis (win 0-1) and Olympiakos (2-1 defeat) but their away stats (1W-3D-8L, goals 7-18) prove that no matter how good they are, there are strong losing chances every time they leave Agrinio. The morale of the home team combined with the fact that Panetolikos wasted a lot of energy in the mud battle against Aris make me believe that one way or another the home team will win this match.

KALLONI vs. LEVADIAKOS

Note: The match will be held at OAKA (Athens) because the maintenance and improvement constructions at the venue of Kalloni (Mytilini) are still in progress.

Kalloni made things difficult for Atromitos in the first 20-25 minutes of their midweek away match (2-0). The red card at Fourlanos at 40’ gave the home team a strong advantage and everything became more difficult when Atromitos scored three minutes later. The goal by Karamanos at 67’ gave an end to any hopes of Kalloni for a positive result with the home team losing a penalty kick at 72’ (Iglesias) to expand their winning margin. Coach Matzourakis stated after the match that he was pleased with the performance of his players but not with the referee. He also characterized the match against Levadiakos as extremely important for his team as they are only four points away from relegation and two points away from their today’s opponent.

Injured: –

Banned: Faria (MID/18), Fourlanos (MID/3)

Levadiakos comes from a home draw against Apollon Smyrnis (1-1). They had a better performance than their opponent until their goal at 62’ after a header by Kotsios (he also had an attempt at the bar at 7’). Apollon started looking for the equalizer almost immediately with the home team seeming more interested to defend their advantage. Their choice was proven wrong at 89’ when Ambrose scored leaving Levadiakos with the point of the draw. Considering the overall performance of the two teams it was a fair result.

Injured: –

Banned: Petrazzi (MID/13/1 assist)

Betting Pick: Kalloni to win @ 2.50

I have a huge respect for Kalloni. It is not only because they have got 8 wins in their first season in Super League. They are the ONLY team that has played all their matches so far AWAY from their venue. The match against Levadiakos is critical and the away performances of their opponent (0W-1D-11L, goals 8-27) show me that Kalloni is the value bet here no matter what happens. Levadiakos will fight back because they are desperate as well so the option of Over 2.5 goals @ 2.30 is another good way to approach this match.

PANATHINAIKOS vs. PAOK

The last thing that Panathinaikos deserved was the defeat in the midweek away match against Asteras Tripolis (1-0). The youngsters of Mr. Anastassiou had a very good performance during the first half adding a lot pressure to the home team. A defensive mistake by Zeca at 54’ allowed Carrasco score. The Greens looked shocked for a while but they kept looking for the equalizer which never came. Mr. Anastassiou congratulated his players for their efforts despite the defeat and asked them to leave it behind because they must concentrate on the win against PAOK.

Injured: Bajrami (MID/8), Mendes (MID/17)

Banned: –

Other: Petrić

PAOK comes from an emphatic midweek win against OFI (5-0) but the truth is that the score does not depict what happened in that match. The early goal by Athanassiadis at 4’ was followed by their usual “pause” which allowed OFI to cause problems in their defense during the first half. OFI looked for the equalizer at 9’, 20’, 22’, 24’ and 39’ without any success. The next good chance for PAOK was recorded at 49’ and when they scored their second goal 61’ OFI collapsed. The three goals that followed (73’, 80’, 86’) came quite easily with the players of the opponent lost from the field.

Injured: Katsikas (DEF/5/1 goal), Vítor (DEF/15/4 goals), Vukić (MID/18/4 goals/1 assist) and Georgiadis (FWD/6)

Banned: –

Betting Pick: Panathinaikos to win @ 2.60

The last two away defeats of PAOK from Panionios (2-0) and Platanias (2-1 despite the fact they were on the lead) show tell me that PAOK has developed away weaknesses lately. They are undefeated at Toumba (11W-1D-0L, goals 30-5) but they lose part of their strength when they play away (5W-2D-4L, goals 17-16). Their last visits in Athens to face Olympiakos (4-0) and Panionios (2-0) were turned to a disaster. A probable win will be good for their morale but they are out of motive because the first place is unreachable.

On the contrary this is one of the most important matches of the season for Panathinaikos. They need the win not only to get the fourth place back from Asteras, but also to stay as close to Atromitos and PAOK as possible. Their point difference at the end of the regular season will determine the extra points PAOK and Atromitos will get when the Playoffs start. Both teams are fond of attacking so my next option is a result of Over 2.5 goals @ 2.30.

History Tip: Panathinaikos has won 15 out of the 17 home matches against PAOK since 2000 (15W-0D-2L).

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