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Aris Still the Best Team in the World After Progressing to Cup Final

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer IMarch 27, 2010

Almost 100 years ago, the Greek city of Thessaloniki was introduced to their second professional football team, Aris FC.

Now, on the day of Aris' 96th birthday, the city can boast about having the world's best football club, as Aris once again successfully defended Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC ).

To further the delight, the result paved the way to the Greek Cup final for Hector Cuper's men where they will look to end 40 years of hurt.

After recording a good 3-1 win in the first leg, Aris were rightly considered the favourites to progress.

However, even though a 1-0 loss would see them through to the final, it wouldn't be enough to ensure they held on to the UWCC.

Luckily for them, however, they managed to achieve both.

Kavala, in front of a vociferous home support hopeful for an unlikely turnaround, needed to start well. They didn't.

In fact, the instructions drummed into them prior to kick-off were most likely "don't concede an early goal," yet that is exactly what they did.

Toni Calvo received the ball just inside the penalty area, cut inside, and curled a beautiful effort past on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper Charles Itandje.

The goal put the aggregate score at 4-1, dealing a major psychological blow to the home side in the process.

It was a blow they struggled to cope with too as Aris controlled the early stages of the game, dictating the tempo and dominating possession.

They came close to putting the tie well and truly to bed when Javito's effort troubled Itandje, but the French shot-stopper was equal to the challenge on this occasion.

With three goals required, the home side's urgency began to show, even as the first half was still being played out.

The Kavala goalscorer from the first leg, Benjamin Onwuatchi, almost levelled the scores on the night on the stroke of half-time, but his header came back off the crossbar.

A goal would have given Kavala a lot of hope heading into the interval, knowing that scoring two second half goals was not an impossible task. Three in one half, however, was a much tougher ask.

The home side's second-half performance showed the difference between these two circumstances.

Had Onwuatchi's effort hit the back of the net, you can be sure Kavala's second half performance would have been full of urgency and attacking intent. As it was, neither of these traits were evident.

With Kavala failing to threaten Aris' goal, and Aris themselves happy to soak up whatever pressure came their way, a stalemate of a second half began.

In fact, it wasn't until the 78th minute that a real highlight occurred, but it was worth the wait.

A free-kick was awarded to Kavala 25 yards out, and up stepped the Ivorian striker Serge Dié.

His vicious free-kick had the perfect amount of swerve and dip on it to take it over the wall and past Michalis Sifakis in the Aris goal.

Unfortunately for the home side, this moment of magic had come too late in the game and, with just over ten minutes to find the two goals needed to take the match into extra-time, Aris closed their opponents out.

The result means Aris will appear in their fourth Greek Cup final since 2003, as they look to to go one better and lift the trophy for the first time since 1970.

Toni Calvo's eighth minute strike was the 250th goal in UWCC history in just 92 games, an average of almost three goals per game.

85.7 percent of voters in the poll correctly predicted that Kavala wouldn't be able to beat Aris to claim the UWCC title, so well done to the majority!

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

Correct prediction streak: Two matches wrong in a row!

 

Aris' run

Aris 2-0 PAOK (Aris become new champions)

Aris 3-1 Kavala

Panionios 1-1 Aris

Kavala 1-1 Aris

 

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

 

Aris' next title defence comes on Sunday as they host Levadiakos in the Super League.

 

Form Book (last five matches): Aris - DWWDD; Levadiakos - DWLWW

Barney's prediction: Aris 3-1 Levadiakos

 

  PWDLFAGDPTS
1Panathinaikos27194448173161
2Olympiakos27176443172657
3PAOK Salonika27175535132256
4AEK Athens27146740301048
5Aris Salonika27111063224843
6Kavala2710892927238
7Atromitos2798103030035
8Panionios2798103230235
9Iraklis2797113535034
10Larissa2787122539-1431
11Ergotelis2779113035-530
12Levadiakos2786132942-1330
13Asteras Tripoli2786132432-830
14Giannina2777132640-1428
15FC Xanthi2784152133-1228
16Panthrakikos2733211954-3512

 

What are your predictions for this upcoming fixture? Will Aris be able to march on to the play-offs or with Levadiakos pull off a big shock in their quest for safety?

Voice your opinions in the comments section!

 

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

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