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Season review: Greece

Published: Wednesday 26 May 2010, 12.30CET
Fired by Djibril Cissé's goals, double winners Panathinaikos FC landed their first title since 2004 in a campaign where serial champions Olympiacos FC faltered and runners-up PAOK FC shone.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Athens
Season review: Greece
French marksman Djibril Cissé hit 23 league goals for Panathinaikos FC ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 26 May 2010, 12.30CET

Season review: Greece

Fired by Djibril Cissé's goals, double winners Panathinaikos FC landed their first title since 2004 in a campaign where serial champions Olympiacos FC faltered and runners-up PAOK FC shone.

Olympiacos FC's reign in Greece is over. After winning 12 league titles in the last 14 years, the Piraeus side were overtaken by Panathinaikos FC as the Greens claimed their 20th championship. PAOK FC's improvement over the last three seasons culminated with a deserved runners-up spot and a UEFA Champions League qualifying berth, although they saved their best for last by dominating the play-offs and, with two victories against Olympiacos, were largely responsible for the outgoing champions' worst finish since 1988, fifth.

Champions: Panathinaikos FC
Panathinaikos reclaimed a title that had eluded them since 2004 thanks in no small part to the goals of Djibril Cissé while Kostas Katsouranis and Sebastian Leto also made telling contributions in their first season with the club. The Athenians started the campaign with Henk ten Cate at the helm but sacked him on 8 December and appointed the Greece Under-21 coach, Nikos Nioplias. Despite derby defeats by PAOK and Olympiacos in the run-in, Panathinaikos were crowned champions with a game to spare thanks to a 2-0 home win against Iraklis FC on 11 April.

Cup final: Panathinaikos FC 1-0 Aris FC
Panathinaikos secured their 17th Greek Cup – and eighth domestic double – by getting the better of Aris at the Olympic Stadium. It was a nervous encounter settled in the 63rd minute by Argentinian midfielder Leto, whose long-range strike got the better of Aris's best player on the day, goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis.

European places*
Panathinaikos FC – UEFA Champions League group stage
PAOK FC – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
AEK Athens FC – UEFA Europa League play-off
Aris FC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
Olympiacos FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Djibril Cissé (Panathinaikos FC)
The 28-year-old Frenchman arrived last summer to try and revive a career threatening to stall because of injury. After a slow start, the Frenchman soon moved up the gears and began scoring freely. In 28 league games, he registered 23 goals and four assists to earn a place in France's FIFA World Cup squad.

One to watch: Giorgos Tzavelas (Panionios GSS)
Though he began an impressive breakthrough season on the bench, the 22-year-old left-back finished it with 24 starts and deserved acclaim for providing the highest number of assists in the Super League. He created almost a third of Panionios's goals – 11 out of 34 – and in the process forced his way into Otto Rehhagel's provisional 25-man Greece squad for South Africa.

Surprise package: FC Kavala
Back in the top flight for the first time since 2000, the team from northern Greece produced a series of no-nonsense displays to achieve their best-ever finish – sixth – and just miss out on a European spot. They sacked three coaches during the campaign yet still made headlines for the right reasons – with notable contributions from the ten-goal Benjamin Onwuachi and goalkeeper Charles Itandje and some eye-catching results, in particular a 2-0 win at Panathinaikos and two goalless draws with Olympiacos.

Leading scorer: Djibril Cissé, Panathinaikos (23)

Promoted: Olympiacos Volou FC, Kerkyra FC, Panserriakos FC

Relegated: Levadiakos FC, PAS Giannina FC, Panthrakikos FC

Number: 36
The number of coaches employed by the 16 top-flight clubs during 2009/10. Olympiacos hired Temuri Ketsbaia only to fire him in September and install Bozidar Bandović as caretaker; Zico then took charge but by Christmas had made way for the returning Bandović, who saw the season out. Only four clubs started and finshed with the same coach: PAOK (Fernando Santos), AEK (Dušan Bajević), Atromitos FC (Giorgos Donis) and Ergotelis FC (Nikos Karageorgiou).

Quote
"OK, so we lost at home to Olympiacos. Defeats happen. The important thing is to keep our cool, handle the twists and turns along the way and cross the finish line first. That's life. We will win the league and still our triumph will be talked down by our rivals, who will take pleasure in saying that they defeated us in the derbies. What's important though is the CV of the players. And there it will be recorded that in 2010 they won the domestic double."
Panathinaikos coach Nikos Nioplias responds to the new champions' detractors

 

Last updated: 07/07/10 15.01CET

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