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  1. So-so performance against relatively weak opposition. Some nice offensive play in the beginning of the first half; Mantalos with a great chance in the 5th minute, good combo and goal from Mitro-Fortounis; although Fortounis was selfish on a few occasions (wide-open Pelkas for an easy tap-in at the end). I thought we were a little shaky defending set-pieces and got a little lucky with some balls ping-ponging in our box; otherwise Estonia never really threatened. Barkas and the back 4 did ok overall. I thought Kourbelis was fine, Bouchalakis was pretty bad and should have been subbed off sooner (plenty of bad touches and passes that put us in danger), Mantalos did well (even playing out of position), Pelkas was ok as well (also playing out of position). Bakasetas never impresses me when he plays for the NT, Tziolis was ok for the last few mins, can't really comment on Koulouris.
  2. Quite simply put, the usual suspects in midfield have not performed consistently (neither for club nor country). Samaris has his occasional inspired moments mixed in with plenty of listless, tepid play. Same story for Taxi. As for Tziolis, for crying out loud the guy was past it in 2010! how long are we gonna keep trotting him out? And yes I get that these are different players with different skillsets but fact remains we've tried to pigeon-hole each of them as one of the "2" without consistent success. I'm not saying they don't deserve call-ups (except Tziolis who should simply retire), just that they don't deserve to walk into the 11. And I disagree with Rockafeller's assertion that there's no one better; if we're gonna stick with the 4-2-3-1 then it would behoove us to try others and give them the chance to either sink or swim before going back to the above options. Case in point: guys like Galanopoulos or Kourbelis have not shown themselves to be clearly inferior to the above three and thus should be given a trial next to Zeca. Now if we're willing to be experimental and move away from the 4-2-3-1, then maybe a different look with a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 is in the cards? ------------------------------------------------------------Donis------------------------------------------Mitroglou-------------------------------------- Stafylidis---------------------------------------------Mantalos-------------------------------------Zeca-----------------------Christodoulopoulos Lykogiannis---------------------------------------------Manolas-------------------------------Sokratis---------------------------------------Retsos ------------------------------------------------------------------------------Karnezis----------------------------------------------------------------------
  3. I like your line-up except for Fortounis who I think should be benched in favour of Mantalos (assuming he's back in-form following a long lay-off from injury) and Kourbelis who I haven't really seen enough of to say one way or another but feel it's a bit of a leap to insert him in the 11 given his relative lack of playing time. That said, I don't really know who else can slot in next to Zeca as our other midfield options have been disappointing (Taxi, Samaris, Tziolis). And yeah our draw wasn't the luckiest but I feel that we were in with a chance against Belgium and played them tough. The Croatia play-off was a s%$#!-show and I lay the blame at the feet of our inept manager; not to say we shouldn't have lost (they are clearly the better team) but on our day and with the right line-up, we could have kept it competitive.
  4. I agree that he's probably not very comfortable going forward as a full-back but he's still young and it's a position he could grow into. Don't get me wrong, if Bakakis can claim the RB spot as his own then great; Retsos would then be the #3CB. My point though is that I want someone who is defensively-responsible and won't be a liability out there (Retsos was one of the few players who didn't s%$#! themselves against the Croats). Same story for LB; as much as I liked Staf's (and before him Holevas) runs forward, their defensive lapses give/gave me heart attacks. Personally I think we haven't had a true defensively-sound LB since Fyssas. Against Croatia, Staf did directly cost us a goal so think it's fair to call him out. Maybe Lykogiannis will turn out to be a better option in the long run?
  5. Even though I have the AEK crest as my avatar, I've honestly grown so disgusted with this league that I barely follow it anymore. "They did this", "they did that", "they didn't get punished that one time they did the same thing years ago", "it's so unfair", everyone's against us", etc. It's enough to make you say "xiestous olous"! Although some might disagree, I doubt we'll get real change/reforms unless the clubs are banned from Europe for a few years. Take away the cash-cow/prize that is the CL and see how quickly people from all sides come to the table. A few lifetime bans to clean out the crooks also wouldn't hurt...
  6. I agree that Fortounis should be benched. Same goes for Bakasetas. I think Donis and Lazaros have earned themselves starts. I think if Mantalos is playing well after coming back from injury, he should get a run as the "10". Pelkas has promise but needs work. I haven't seen enough of Kourbelis to really form an opinion. As I stated in the Egypt thread, besides Zeca, the other deep-lying midfielders have not been cutting it. On the defensive line, Manolas/Socrates are automatic starters. I think Skibbe will use Retsos as RB to replace Torosidis (who is frankly past it), with Bakakis as back-up. LB is a bit of a question-mark; I like Stafylidis but he makes a lot of mistakes and was exposed against Croatia. Lykogiannis should also get more time. As for Tziolis and Tzavellas, no question they should be dropped but Skibbe trusts them so expect to see them in future squads..
  7. Kastro, thanks for the info; I suspected as such. Dean, I agree with some of your points but think you're being a little harsh at times. We did show some positive play going forward and our players were a lot less static and predictable than usual. Certainly there was some sloppy, disjointed play but I think some of that also comes down to the crappy conditions and multiple subs. I agree with you that the midfield needs work (been saying that for about 10 years now). If we play a 4-2-3-1, the "2" remains a problem. Besides Zeca none of our guys have put in consistently good performances in that defensive/deeper role. Samaris should be a good box-to-box type but doesn't really get forward enough nor pass the ball well. Tachtsidis isn't mobile enough and seems disengaged at times. Tziolis doesn't even warrant talking about and should be dropped. As for the others, I liked what I saw from Donis, Karelis, Lazaros. I think Pelkas has promise but is a little rash and needs work. Bakasetas should be a bench player (as should Fortounis when Mantalos comes back). Stafylidis, Bakakis, and (briefly) Lykogiannis also did well. I think Papadopoulos is a bench player at this point and Tzavellas should be dropped. Barkas was solid; made the saves when needed.
  8. Caught the last hour, thought we looked ok. We pretty much controlled the game which was a welcome change. Decent build-up play and plenty of running and getting into dangerous spots. That said, we still looked shaky at times and wasn't too pleased with some of the work from the backline. I get that it's the B-side but still. We were fortunate that Egypt were so poor; I know Salah wasn't on the field but were they resting other starters? Cause if not they're gonna have a tough time in Russia this summer...
  9. Sad way to end things. Croatians sat back and gave us possession and yet we created nothing. Once again, poor passing, poor touches, and just an overall lack of ideas going forward. As others have pointed out, we are a team that lacks talent and depth. The midfield (as always) is the biggest challenge. We have guys who are not playing regularly for their clubs, others who are just poor/inconsistent at NT-level, and yet others still who simply aren't at this level. I don't think there's a magic fix. IMO the only one who acquitted himself well over these two games was Zeca. The others will need to prove themselves. I still think Taxi has the potential to be "the guy" as long as he has players around him to do the hard running (and assuming he can play consistently at club-level). I'd also like to see how we do with a fit Mitroglou AND Donis together in the same line-up.
  10. Terrible game; even setting aside some shockingly bad schoolboy errors, that was atrocious play. Midfield was overrun, touches were awful, and most players only started to fight after the game was already over (save for Zeca and the CBs who busted their @ss from start to finish). The sad thing is if we had maintained any sort of possession/pressure in the opposing 1/3rd we could have punished them; Croatian defense is soft. Oh well, start building toward 2020 I guess.
  11. Haven't posted in awhile, but just wanted to say my 2 cents. First off, congrats to the team for getting this far. From the outset, most would have predicted a 2nd place finish for us and that's what we got. We're still in with a chance whereas other good teams from our region are already out. Regarding the play-off, I think any of the seeded teams will give us a hard time. That said, with a little luck I could see us pulling it off against Denmark or Croatia. The Swiss and Italians would likely beat us over 2 legs. Although I still think the team is pretty limited with only 2 elite-level players in the 11 (both of whom play on the back-line), the style has at least improved a bit from the dysfunctional donkey-ball we used to play under Santos (at least from the few games I've seen). Case-in-point: the last game against Belgium, watch that first half again-> that's the kind of movement and build-up play that we are capable of. That's not to say that we're world-beaters or that Skibbe is some master tactician, just that the potential is there with this group (assuming form, fitness, etc.) to really surprise. Now if we can just cut the defensive lapses (I can't believe the acres of space that Belgian player had on the 2nd goal) we might just punch our ticket to Russia.
  12. Not too fussed with our ranking; most of those teams ranked ahead of us would give us a hard time. Not saying we couldn't nick a result, but it would be hard. Heck, when you're struggling against the Estonias of the world, you probably don't deserve to be top 40, let alone top 25...
  13. I'm disappointed by Holevas' decision as I feel that we are weak at the LB position (Tzavellas might previously have been a serviceable option but is declining fast and Staf is still very inconsistent). That said, I don't think this is a huge loss. Quite frankly, I've always felt that Holevas was a liability in the back. I still remember the shocking displays against Poland and Czech Republic at Euro 2012 and him getting abused by Cuadrado of Colombia in 2014. I'm not saying he hasn't had good games for us and his offensive capabilities are certainly nothing to sneeze at, but he's not exactly a world-beater either. I can't say I've followed him too closely since those tourneys and maybe he has improved his play with Watford; but at 32 and with a questionable commitment to the cause, I think the team will survive his departure.
  14. I get where you guys are coming from but I still have nightmares from Holevas being skinned by Poland and the Czechs in 2012 and getting abused by Cuadrado in 2014. I understand why Skibbe doesn't fully trust him. Granted I don't think we really have anyone better at LB (a problem-position ever since Fyssas/Venetidis hung them up) so I think the coach is trying to experiment with him at LM while having Tzavellas in there as a stop-gap until someone better comes along..
  15. Didn't watch the game but having seen the line-ups, I think Skibbe got things (more or less) right. It's clear that Fortounis and Mantalos are automatics at this point. Not too enamoured with Holevas in midfield but I can understand why Skibbe might not necessarily trust him defensively as a pure LB (yet still want to include him in the 11). Tzavellas is slow and getting slower so nothing more than a stop-gap measure until someone better comes along. It was worrying to see in some of those highlights how easily Holland carved through our midfield. I understand why Skibbe went with the Maniatis-Samaris combo but as I mentioned in an earlier thread, Maniatis is a player that needs to be phased out (especially if not playing regular first-team football). That said, who replaces him? Tachstidis? Petsos? Maybe experiment with Papadopoulos as DM again?
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