World Football

Aris Still The Best Team in The World After Cup Win Over Kavala

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer IMarch 19, 2010

The newest holders of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) took to the field to defend their title for the first time this past Wednesday as they hosted Kavala in the Greek Cup.

With both sides fighting it out for a play-off place in the league, just five points seperate the two, the cup was a temporary distraction which provided an interesting sub-plot to the season.

Whether or not this distraction would be considered a welcome one or a not-so-welcome one would be decided by the scoreline.

And, in the end, it was the home side who triumphed 3-1, gaining an important lead going into the second leg, as well as perhaps some psychological advantages.

These began in the 26th minute as Aris took the lead.

A sweeping counter-attacking move by the home side left Kavala short in defence, but one of those who had managed to get back was midfielder Serge Die.

He must have wished he hadn't bothered as a Carlos Arano cross struck his hand inside the penalty area, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Sergio Koke strolled up and dispatched the penalty beyond former Liverpool goalkeeper Charles Itandje like it was the easiest thing in the world.

The Spanish striker almost doubled his team's lead, and his own personal tally immediately after with a good effort from range.

He cut in from the left hand side before firing a 30-yard strike towards goal which forced a smart save from Itandje.

Aris really should have taken a 2-0 lead just before half-time, with Koke this time acting as the provider. A fabulous through ball split Kaval's defence wide open, leaving Javier Campora with just Itandje to beat.

The Argentine striker couldn't find the same lethal finishing that plagued PAOK last week, however, as he struck a weak shot straight at the goalkeeper.

This lack of cutting edge came back to haunt the home side in first half stoppage time as Kavala levelled the sides.

While Campora had missed after being released with a brilliant through ball minutes before, Benjamin Onwuachi made no such mistake when he was gifted a great chance courtesy of another inch-perfect pass.

With only the keeper to beat, the Nigerian striker looked to slip it under Michalis Sifakis. The Aris shot-stopper got a hand to it, but that wasn't enough to stop the ball trickling agonisingly towards goal, before finally hitting one post and eventually crossing the line.

If the away fans thought this may disrupt Aris' start to the second half, they were given a wake up call within 20 seconds of the whistle being blown for the restart.

A headed pass by Toni Calvo found Campora, who was just onside. Once again, however, the Argentine squandered a great chance by hitting his close range shot straight at the keeper.

Ten minutes later he had yet another chance, but he just couldn't get onto the end of a wicked cross from the right hand side.

Aris finally got the elusive second goal after 70 minutes, courtesy of some nice build-up play by Toni Calvo and a very good finish from Koke, albeit with some help along the way.

Calvo turned his marker inside out on the wing before playing a ball into the penalty area. His cross was headed out, but only as far as Koke who hit a first time volley past Itandje and into the net.

While the volley initially looked goal-bound, Koke owes a great deal of thanks to Kavala defender Douglao, who the ball took a wicked deflection off, as that took it past the helpless Itandje.

Just like after the first goal, Aris looked to get a quick follow-up, and once again they came very close.

Some nice football on the edge of the Kavala box from Calvo and Mehdi Nafti amongst others resulted in the ball being laid off to defender Darcy Dolce Neto who fired a thunderous shot just past the post.

As the game entered the final ten minutes, the home side looked for a deserved third goal that would put the game beyond their opponents, and they almost got it through Nacho Garcia.

As the ball was half-cleared from yet another cross into the Kavala box, Garcia took control, beating two defenders to take him into the penalty area, before firing a decent volley from an acute angle which forced a save from Itandje.

The resulting corner provided yet another chance as some terrible marking allowed Camel Meriem time and space inside the box. A poor first touch, however, enabled Itandje to make the challenge.

The third goal finally came soon after, however.

A delightful through ball by Nafti sent American Eddie Johnson through on goal. Once again, Itandje did enough to deny him, but the rebound fell straight to Javito, who headed home to give Aris an unassailable lead.

It could and should have been more, though.

Johnson found himself one-on-one with Itandje again, this time courtesy of Calvo's pass, but the American was guilty of dwelling on the ball for too long, and eventually the Kavala keeper smothered his shot.

It was a game that Aris dominated, and should have won by more than the two-goal margin, but manager Hector Cuper will be happy with the win nonetheless.

Of the 24 voters in the poll, 75 percent correctly predicted that Aris would hold onto their crown as the world's best team, so well done to the majority!

Barney's prediction: Aris win (2-0)     Actual result: Aris win (3-1)

Correct prediction streak: One match in a row!

 

Aris' run

Aris 2-0 PAOK (Aris become new champions)

Aris 3-1 Kavala

 

( Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)

 

Aris' next title match comes on Sunday, away to Panionios in the Greek Super League.

 

Form Book (last five matches): Panionios - LWLWW; Aris - LWDWW

Barney's prediction: Panionios 1-2 Aris

 

  PWDLFAGDPTS
1Panathinaikos26194348163261
2PAOK Salonika26175435122356
3Olympiakos26166442172554
4AEK Athens2613673930945
5Aris Salonika2611963123842
6Kavala2610792624237
7Atromitos269893029135
8Panionios2697103129234
9Iraklis2687113234-231
10Larissa2686122236-1430

 

What are your predictions for this upcoming match? Will Aris be able to take another step closer to the play-offs, or will Panionios upset the odds to keep any slim play-off hopes they still have alive?

Voice your opinions in the comments section!

 

Video highlights of Aris 3-1 Kavala can be seen here.

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