Panathinaikos v AEK
The first Athens derby is set to take place on Sunday, this being the first game between teams of the Big-4 (Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AEK and PAOK) this season. Greek Super League leaders Panathinaikos have won all their first three league games, having scored just four goals and having kept three clean sheets.
After receiving a boost courtesy of a few big signings in the summer, Ivan Jovanovic’s side have hit the ground running in the Greek league. However, they have yet to take on a strong rival thus far, having beaten weaker sides Ionikos, OFI and Levadiakos. This is Panathinaikos’ opportunity to push for a statement win and force the rest of the title contenders to consider them as one of the favourites to win the trophy more than a decade after their last success.
Meanwhile, AEK have recorded two wins and a loss in their first three games of the season, having scored five goals and conceded just one. Matías Almeyda’s men will take to the Apostolos Nikolaidis pitch in their bid to prove that they should be considered frontrunners to win the trophy too after failing to qualify for Europe last season. What both teams have in common is that they would prioritise solidifying their defence over offering spectacle to the fans in a derby which comes too early in the season, but whose outcome could be crucial for both teams’ morale going forward.
Their H2H has shown that only one of the last seven Athens derbies ended with over 2.5 goals scored, while more than two goals have been scored in just one of the six games that the two sides have played thus far despite both facing weaker teams.
Asteras Tripolis v Aris
Despite missing out on a big opportunity to record a statement win against fierce rivals PAOK in the Thessaloniki derby last weekend, Aris managed to keep an important clean sheet. Coach Germán Burgos was sacked prior the derby, one of the club’s main complaints being that he failed to solidify the team’s defence.
Aris have yet to appoint a new coach, but interim manager Tolis Terzis has made clear that he wants his team to remain compact in defence by replicating their performance against PAOK. What Terzis wants for Aris is to be as solid in defence as their upcoming opponents, Asteras Tripolis, are in the last couple of matches.
Under new coach Iraklis Metaxas, who did a great job at PAS Giannina last season, Tripoli have kept two clean sheets in their last two games against reigning champions Olympiacos and Lamia. As had happened in the game with Olympiacos, Tripoli announced that there will be no tickets on sale for visiting fans, with only the season ticket holders being allowed to attend the match. This means that Aris will not have the support of their loud fans and not more than 2.000 will attend the game, which is not expected to be an entertaining back-and-forth duel.
Tripoli will push to replicate their defensive performance of their previous two games which ended in goalless draws, while Aris should be expected to prioritise remaining solid at the back over pushing forwards from the off. This means that we should not expect a game where more than two goals will be scored, as Aris will aim for their first clean sheet away from home this season and Tripoli are aware that they have to be compact at the back in order to face a strong Aris attack.
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