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Season review: Greece

Published: Tuesday 14 June 2011, 9.09CET
A 100% home record helped sweep Olympiacos FC to the title, their 38th in 75 national championships, with AEK Athens FC ending a nine-year wait for a Greek Cup.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Athens
Season review: Greece
Olympiacos fans had another title to enjoy this season ©AFP
Published: Tuesday 14 June 2011, 9.09CET

Season review: Greece

A 100% home record helped sweep Olympiacos FC to the title, their 38th in 75 national championships, with AEK Athens FC ending a nine-year wait for a Greek Cup.

Returning to the summit once more in 2010/11, Olympiacos FC's 38th title means that they have now won more championships in the 75-year history of the Greek league than all of their rivals combined. The Piraeus side's European campaign ended early, with UEFA Europa League third qualifying round defeat against Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC, but with Ernesto Valverde replacing Ewald Lienen as coach, they soon regained the form that saw them win the 2008/09 double in the Spaniard's first spell.

Champions: Olympiacos FC
Losing 2-1 at Iraklis FC in their first league game of the season was an inauspicious start, but the numbers soon started to add up for Olympiacos, as they sealed the title in the 27th round with a 6-0 mauling of AEK Athens FC. "Our performance tonight was typical of our season," said Valverde, whose players were perhaps helped by a lack of serious, consistent rivals and ended the season with the most goals scored (65), least conceded (18), the most wins (24) and the fewest defeats (five).

Cup final: AEK Athens FC 3-0 Atromitos FC
After eliminating Panathinaikos FC in the quarter-finals and PAOK FC in the semis, AEK cruised to a 14th Greek Cup triumph against first-time finalists Atromitos FC, taking their first trophy in nine years. Captain Nikos Liberopoulos broke the deadlock with a firm header from Nacho Scocco's cross with substitutes Nabil Baha and Pantelis Kafes completing the job. "I came to Greece to win titles," said AEK coach Manolo Jiménez. "So this is a very important evening for me."

European places
Olympiacos FC – UEFA Champions League group stage
Panathinaikos FC – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
AEK Athens FC – UEFA Europa League play-off round
PAOK FC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round

Players of the year: Ariel Ibagaza & Kevin Mirallas (Olympiacos FC)
The official award is decided at the end of the calendar year, and it would seem to be a toss up between these Olympiacos team-mates as to who receives it. At 35, playmaker Ibagaza's first season in Greece netted him his first league title; just reward for his fine passing and exquisite ball skills. However, Belgian striker Mirallas, 23, also caught the eye, with some screamers among his 14 league goals earning him a new four-year contract and some devoted fans in Piraeus.

One to watch: Djamel Abdoun (Kavala FC)
The summer is set to see a scrap between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos for French-born winger Abdoun, who featured for Algeria at the FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa and played a blinder as Kavala finished seventh in the table. The 25-year-old is capable of playing on either flank, has two good feet, great delivery and his leadership skills and never-say-die attitude endeared him to the Argonauts fans.

Leading scorer: Djibril Cissé, Panathinaikos FC (20, plus 4 in the play-offs)

Number: 15
Olympiacos won all 15 of their league home games, something only two previous sides have managed in Greece's top division; Aris Thessaloniki FC in 1978/79 and by AEK in 1992/93. They scored 46 times in those games – an average of over three a game – and conceded just six.

Relegated: Larissa FC, Panserraikos FC, Iraklis FC

Promoted: Panetolikos FC, PAS Giannina FC, OFI FC

Quote
"We coaches represent a whole club and not just one player; we don't like to pick out favourites. Having said that, I will say that Avraam Papadopoulos is a very special player for us; he is Greek, a tower in our defence, very consistent in his performances, always making a contribution. I have told him that I'm waiting impatiently for his first goal for Olympiacos so that I can celebrate it with him. He has scored before, but never under me."
Coach Ernesto Valverde reluctantly reveals who his favourite Olympiacos player is.

Last updated: 12/08/11 10.25CET

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