AEK Athens win Greek Super League at gunpoint
The Greek Super League has been known to be a passionate and charismatic league within Europe. This season has seen a change in the tide though. For the first time since 1994 AEK Athens have won the Super League title.
Greece has been known over the years for two clubs. Dominated mainly by AEK's Athens rivals, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos. Both sides from the Greek capital have been trading titles for the past 24 seasons. But AEK has caused a major shakeup by finishing six points above second-placed PAOK."Enosis" or "The Union" as they are nicknamed in Greece contemplated early in the season about how the campaign would fair. Playing at the Olympic stadium in which all three Athens superclubs have all hosted at is a great perk to possess when competing in Greek football. The only team other than AEK to play their home games at the Olympic Stadium is the Greek national football team.
Away from "The Big Three" AEK really turned on the style this season as they managed to only lose two league games from 30 played. Manolo Jimenez's side also only conceded 12 times throughout. Winning the title by a six-point margin shows how successful the club has been over a 12 month period. The 2016/17 season ended as a fourth-placed finish. Managing to qualify for Europa League football was a step the club felt ready for. Although they only made it to the final 32 it was a stepping stone prior to their current title victory.
But one controversial incident occurred for AEK Athens when they were up against PAOK Salonika back in March. Now AEK were doing fantastically well. Unbeaten in 16 games they had actually conceded a goal against PAOK but the ref ruled the goal offside. Here comes the important part. Salonika's President and owner, Russian billionaire Ivan Savvidis marched onto the field with a gun in a hip holster around his belt whilst holding it to look threatening. The AEK players left the field in terror and refused to return to the pitch in shock of what may have happened. The game was later abandoned and PAOK were docked three points, while Savvidis was arrested and fined 100,000 Euros. This incident meant that AEK automatically received a 3-0 victory. The security they needed after such a shock.
From the "Gun incident" onwards AEK continued their fine form, apparently unphased by being threatened at gunpoint. The following five games resulted in four wins and a draw without conceding a single goal. Sergio Araujo on loan from Spanish side Las Palmas proved to be the most important player with 11 goals during his stay at the club. Manolo Jimenez will certainly think whether he should sign him up permanently for next season. Another Las Palmas loanee made an impact. Croation forward Marko Livaja managed to bag eight goals for AEK but will return to his parent club.
Olympiacos and Panathinaikos will feel gutted AEK have been left to be holding the title even though it still remains in Athens. This also means qualification into the Champions League third-round qualifying for next season. They wouldn't be where they are if it wasn't for Savvidis showing his frustration. Even with the three-week suspension of Greek football, nothing could stop AEK.
Next season will be one hell of a task. Trying to find the right players and trying to qualify for the Champions League group stage could be very important. Defending the title will probably be the hardest task of all. Olympiacos and Panathinaikos will be hungrier than last season knowing they want the crown back on their side of the Greek capital.
But either way, AEK Athens will aim to be gunning it next season.