Panathinaikos v Ionikos
Competing for the Super League title is in Panathinaikos’ DNA. Only Olympiacos have won more league titles than the Greens, who have been struggling due to ownership issues over the last decade. However, something is changing at Panathinaikos.
Ivan Jovanovic has put together a compact side, one which secured European qualification last season for the first time in five years. Excitement has grown amongst Panathinaikos fans, some of whom consider their team as one of the favourites to win the league 12 years after the last time they clinched the trophy and more than half a dozen of years after they actually competed for it.
Panathinaikos strengthened all their lines in the summer transfer window, but they were knocked out by a superior Slavia Prague in the Conference League qualifiers. They ended last season in style, winning seven of their last eight games on home soil. Although three of them were 1-0 victories, Panathinaikos took a first-half lead in all these seven games and managed to hold on to it.
Meanwhile, Ionikos were last season’s surprise, playing some fine football at times due to their solid backbone under an experienced coach in Dimitrios Spanos. However, only three teams grabbed fewer points than Ionikos away from home in 2021/22.
Spanos’ men were defeated 4-1 away at Panathinaikos last season, with the hosts leading 2-1 at half-time. Moreover, Panathinaikos have won 10 of their last 11 home games against Ionikos and they should do so comfortably on Sunday too.
Boasting both the best attack and the best defence on home soil in the Super League playoffs last year, Panathinaikos currently have a re-energised home support who will be pushing for an opener from the off against a side who didn’t impress and were defeated in all but one of their five pre season friendlies.
Aris v Levadiakos
Aris have stolen the limelight with some impressive moves in the summer transfer window to strengthen a side that impressed last season under Germán Burgos. Diego Simeone’s former assistant coach at Atlético Madrid joined the Greek team last February and inspired Aris to European qualification.
The Thessaloniki-based side registered just two defeats – both against champions Olympiacos – in 12 Greek Super League games under Burgos. After strengthening their attack with well-known players such as former Arsenal man Gervinho, Spanish talented playmaker Manu García and former Watford striker Andre Gray, Aris won all three games that they played on home soil in the Conference League qualifiers. In those three duels, they scored nine goals and conceded two, but Aris were eliminated by Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Expectations have been raised after the big summer moves and the team’s form in the last stretch of the 2021/22 campaign. Aris have won five of their last six games on home soil and they will try to kick off this season in style, with a victory against Levadiakos.
The newly-promoted side took Super League 2 by storm last season, boasting both the best attack and defence in the league. No team grabbed more points than Levadiakos on the road in the second division, but the difference in quality with the top-flight is huge and Aris are considered as one of the best teams this season in Greece.
The H2H is clearly in Aris’ favour, as they have won seven of their last eight home games against Levadiakos on home soil, having conceded just three goals. In a packed Kleanthis Vikelidis stadium, Aris will kick off their season with a victory in front of their fans who are dreaming big this year.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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