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Season review: Greece

Published: Thursday 6 June 2013, 13.06CET
Olympiacos FC wrapped up their 40th Greek title in record time despite a winter coach change and then completed a 16th domestic double as their dominance went on.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Athens
Season review: Greece
Kostas Manolas (right) stood out for Olympiacos ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 6 June 2013, 13.06CET

Season review: Greece

Olympiacos FC wrapped up their 40th Greek title in record time despite a winter coach change and then completed a 16th domestic double as their dominance went on.

Olympiacos FC clinched their 40th Greek title in record time despite a winter coach change and later secured a 16th domestic double as their period of supremacy continued.

The Piraeus club added a fourth star to their shirts by finishing 15 points above second-placed PAOK FC, while Panathiniakos FC came sixth and missed out on Europe for the first time since 1997. AEK Athens FC, meanwhile, suffered the first relegation in their 89-year history while more modest outfits Asteras Tripolis FC, Atromitos FC and PAS Giannina FC earned European spots.

Champions: Olympiacos FC
Runaway champions yet again, Olympiacos sealed their 15th title in 17 years with five matches to go. Having started with Leonardo Jardim at the helm, they had former goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis take charge for a brief spell before appointing Míchel in early February. Beaten just once in the Super League – at home by feisty Atromitos – Piraeus's finest were not as impressive as in previous seasons yet were rarely matched. Whether fielding one central forward or both at the same time, Olympiacos had in Rafik Djebbour and Kostas Mitroglou a devastating attack that would propel them to comfortable victories or bail them out of trouble.

Cup final: Olympiacos FC 3-1 Asteras Tripolis FC (aet)
Olympiacos were made to work hard by first-time finalists Asteras Tripolis. The underdogs began brightly and went ahead through Rubén Rayos's close-range shot. Olympiacos managed to level before half-time with a powerful David Fuster volley. Extra time eventually ensued, and Olympiacos made their experience tell with substitute Juan Pablo Pino proving instrumental. His corner enabled the favourites to take a 99th-minute lead through Djebbour, before Pino was awarded the clinching penalty that Djamel Abdoun converted.

European places*
Olympiacos FC – UEFA Champions League, group stage
PAOK FC – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
Atromitos FC – UEFA Europa League, play-off
Asteras Tripolis FC – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round
PAS Giannina FC – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Djamel Abdoun (Olympiacos)
In his second term with the champions, the 27-year-old Algeria winger was by far their best and most consistent player. He contributed seven league goals and eight assists, and his right-sided runs were a constant threat to opponents. Abdoun, who had acknowledged last October that he owes his Olympiacos career to his international team-mate Djebbour ("putting in a good word for me"), was voted player of the season by his peers.

One to watch: Ergys Kaçe (PAOK FC)
Teenager Kaçe stole the show in a campaign where many clubs relied on younger players to compensate for a lack of transfer funds. The 19-year-old holding midfielder's mature displays belied his age, in a position usually occupied by experienced professionals. Omnipresent, with a sound reading of the game, the Albanian has good positional sense, the stamina of a marathon runner and a vicious long-range shot. A product of PAOK's academy, he helped the Salonika team to second spot and the UEFA Champions League qualifiers.

Surprise package: PAS Giannina FC
Anyone suggesting last summer that PAS Giannina could gain a first-ever European berth would have risked ridicule, given the club's financial plight. Yet coach Giannis Christopoulos, a top-flight rookie, put together a young side founded on collective work rather than individual brilliance. The 'Ajax of Epirus' achieved their first aim – avoiding relegation – before making it into the top five through clever tactics and sheer determination. They also boasted the best goal of this campaign, and many before it, an absolute screamer by Tomás De Vincenti against Panathinaikos.

Leading scorer: Rafik Djebbour, Olympiacos FC (20)

Relegated*: AEK Athens FC, Kerkyra FC

Promoted*: Apollon Smyrni FC, Ergotelis FC, Kalloni FC, Panetolikos FC

*Next season's Super League will feature 18 sides

Number: 2
Just two clubs kept the same coach all season: Sakis Tsiolis at Asteras Tripolis and Giannis Christopoulos at PAS Giannina. The remaining 14 sides, including Olympiacos, replaced the main man at least once – for a total of 28 coaching changes. Xanthi FC (who finished seventh) kicked off with Marinos Ouzounidis, handed the reins to Giannis Papadimitriou and later Nikos Kostenoglou, before ending the season with Ouzounidis back in the dugout.

Quote
"We know our fans are not satisfied with just victories and titles – they also want us to be spectacular on the pitch. This season's league was won rather quickly and easily, and our level of intensity dropped. We should try and remedy that."
Rafik Djebbour, the Olympiacos forward, addresses the supporters' only gripe.

Last updated: 27/06/13 10.03CET

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