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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 October 2018
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 OCTOBER 2018 SPORT Difficult outings for PAOK and Olympiacos as Greek Super League resumes The table leaders will face city rivals Aris in the city derby while the team from Piraeus travels to Crete where OFI awaits them After the break for the Nations League games, all European Championships continue their regular schedule this weekend, the Greek Super League not least among them. With PAOK and Atromitos in the lead and AEK and Olympiacos three points behind after the first six games, it seems to be a fairly even competition that could go any which way. After claiming important victories at home against champions AEK and away at Olympiacos, PAOK will once again need to prove that they finally have what it takes to go all the way this season, as they go up against their bitter rivals from Thessaloniki Aris, in a derby reminiscent of the old days. The two teams recently competed at the Toumba Stadium for the first day of the Greek Cup, ending with a draw, so it will be very interesting to see how they fare in a competition with more on the line. PAOK will be missing their play maker Dimitris Pelkas, who was injured during his efforts with the Greek national team. On the other notable game of the day, Olympiacos will go to the Theodoros Vadinogiannis stadium where OFI awaits them, in a game that traditionally gave them trouble even in their glory days. Skipper Kostas Fortounis will be unavailable, after he was penalised for his obscene remarks and actions during the derby with AEK, with Yaya Toure expected to replace him. Meanwhile, AEK will go to Rizoupoli where they are expected to claim the three points from Apollon, despite the absence of key defender Marios Ikonomou. Coach Marinos Ouzounidis was happy to see quite a few of his players return to practice, as Mantalos, Ponce and Gianniotas all declared themselves available for Saturday's game. The players will try to keep their focus on the game, with the massive challenge of Bayern Munich looming on the horizon. Panathinaikos will attempt to continue to pleasantly surprise their fans as they welcome Panionios, with manager Giorgos Donis having all his players at his service after Kolovetsios and Emmanouilidis returned to training. In the meantime, Atromitos, who has quietly snuck up to first place will try to hold on to its position as it hosts Asteras Tripolis. Currently PAOK and Atromitos are in first position with 16 points, with AEK and Olympiacos trailing at second with 13, Aris at fifth GEORGE STOGIANNOU Kostas Fortounis will be absent from Olympiacos’ game against OFI after he was punished for his manner of celebration during the derby with AEK. PHOTO: AAP VIA AP/YORGOS KARAHALIS with 12 and Panathinaikos with 10. Apollon sits at last place with 0 points. SUPER LEAGUE DAY 7 FIXTURES SATURDAY 20 OCTOBER Panathinaikos - Panionios PAS Giannena - Panetolikos Apollon Smyrnis - AEK AEL - Lamia SUNDAY 21 OCTOBER Levadiakos - Xanthi Aris - PAOK OFI - Olympiacos Atromitos - Asteras Tripolis The Marquee match of the opening round of the new ALeague season in the Melbourne derby once again attracts a lot of interest, not only amongst fans of both Victory and City but A-League fans in general, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the expectations surrounding each of these clubs is always high, particularly with Victory being the most successful A-League club in the land and coming off the back of their fourth Grand Final win, but also in City's case, because of their association with the City Football group. Both these teams finished in the top four last season and will be expected to do even better this season. So it will be of great interest to see how they start their respective campaigns after such a long preseason and numerous changes in personnel. The other source of interest is the anticipation in seeing how the new imports fare in their A-League debut especially coming in a Melbourne derby. Who could forget Tim Cahill's wonder strike in his City debut in the derby last season? A lot of the attention will be focused on Victory's imports, Japanese international star Keisuke Honda and Swedish World Cup forward Ola Toivonen, who Victory will be hoping will form a key part of Victory's attack this season, especially after the departure of key forwards Beshart Berisha and Leroy George. But tonight's match will also give Victory fans a chance to look at key defensive imports who will form part of the Victory spine, namely defensive midfielder, Spaniard Raul Bena and tall central defender Georg Niedemeier. They'll be the new recruits and it will be Phoenix recruit NPL talent from Greek clubs GEORGE STOGIANNOU Two of the stars from Championship winning Greek NPL clubs have been snapped up by A-League club Wellington Phoenix on the eve of the new A-League season. Heidelberg United's versatile left back Reuben Way, is headed to the land of the long white cloud. He follows skilful Sydney Olympic midfielder Max Burgess who signed a one year contract with the Phoenix last week. Twenty-eight-year old Way joined Heidelberg United in 2015 from Brisbane club Olympic FC and went on to become a mainstay of the club, playing 118 games and scoring 21 goals, leaving the club on a high with a PremiershipChampionship double. "It is amazing to be here with Wellington Phoenix as I thought the dream of playing in the Hyundai A-League was over," he commented on the Wellington website about his chance to play in the A-League. "I have played against Mark's Sydney FC side so I am well aware of the fight his teams show and I believe I will bring that determination and passion to the squad." Phoenix Coach Mark Rudan says, "Reuben has been a mainstay at a very successful club for a number of years and deserves this opportunity. "He is the second player we've signed from the NPL. "I believe in the players at that level who, if given a chance, can shine in this competition." Way's signing follows last week's pick up by Phoenix of Sydney Olympic playmaker Max Burgess, whose standout work in the middle of the park was a major factor in Sydney Olympic's doubles success this season. All up, the 23-year-old Burgess scored seven goals in 23 appearances for Olympic this campaign as well as pro- viding numerous assists. It's not the first time Burgess has played for an A-League club, having previously played for Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets before joining Sydney Olympic. Burgess said on the Wellington Phoenix website, "I am extremely excited to be signing with the Wellington Phoenix and I am determined to make my mark with my new team. "When I heard of the interest, I jumped at the chance and with the encouragement I have received from Mark Rudan, I can't wait to get started." Rudan says, "He has tasted Hyundai A-League experience before but I feel that he has plenty more to show. "We have the perfect environment for him to develop and show that true potential he holds. "I'm looking forward to having his attributes and his hard work ethic within the squad." DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 Stars to debut in Melbourne derby interesting to see how coach Kevin Muscat deploys his team around these new key players. Socceroo James Troisi will probably lead the attack alongside Toivonen, with Kosta Barbarouses supporting the attack out wide. Another player with a Greek heritage, Terry Antonis could provide that extra defensive steel in midfield to free up Honda as a playmaker. City will no doubt be wary of the threat of Honda's dead ball skills and set piece delivery, especially with the height of Toivonen and Niedemeier available to Victory. City has also strengthened in the off season, particularly in defence, where they have signed some experienced players with European pedigree in Ritchie De Laet (Aston Villa) and former Socceroo Curtis Good from Newcastle United. They'll join the impressive Bart Schenkeveld to form the nucleus of the City defence. On paper it seems, Victory go into tonight's match with greater depth in attack. Whilst City will be grateful to have a fully fit Bruno Fornaroli leading the attack, they've lost new Scottish signing, winger Michael O'Halloran signed in part to add width to the attack following the departure of last year's star Daniel Arzani. Instead City will rely on new attacking midfielder, Frenchman Florin Berenguer and young attacking midfielder Riley McGree to support Fornaroli in attack. Fans watching tonight's match can expect to see a fast, furious opening with neither team taking a backward step. In recent meetings, City have started better and got the jump on Victory by scoring first and forcing Victory to chase the game. Victory coach Muscat will be impressing on his team the importance of matching City's early intensity.
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