Aris Still The Best Team in The World With Win Over Levadiakos
The Greek city of Thessaloniki will have two representatives in the Super League play-offs this season.
This news comes after Aris, the one team with their position still in jeopardy, secured a chance of Champions League football next season with a 1-0 win over Levadiakos on Sunday.
The win not only puts them in the company of fellow Thessaloniki dwellers PAOK, but also ensures they retain their status as the best team in the world, courtesy of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC).
Despite their respective positions, with Levadiakos hovering perilously close the relegation zone, this fixture was by no means a foregone conclusion.
Aris may have had the home advantage, and were certainly favourites, but three wins from their last four matches had seen confidence grow for Levadiakos, and they would have been hopeful for another positive result.
Those hopes were shot down in some style, however, as Aris once again pleased their home crowd by winning all three points.
The hosts two American stars, Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson, almost linked up to open the scoring early on, but Johnson's header from Adu's cross deflected just past the post.
Levadiakos soon hit back with a chance of their own, but once again it failed to trouble to scorecards.
A chipped through ball by Nacho González found Giorgos Barkoglou. The Greek midfielder chose to hit his shot early, looking to take goalkeeper Michal Peskovic by surprise, but his effort was just off target.
Just after the half hour mark came another close call, this time in Aris' favour, as former Birmingham midfielder Mehdi Nafti almost scored a screamer.
From 35 yards out, the ball was laid off to Nafti from a free-kick, and his resulting effort was inches away from giving his side the lead.
Aris were much the better side in the first half, seemingly always providing an attacking threat, but they were unable to make it count before the half-time whistle.
Nor could they in the early stages of the second half either.
Try as they might, the Aris attack couldn't breach the stubborn Levadiakos defence. Instead, when it finally did give way, it was a defender that did the damage.
Just after the hour mark, a foul on Freddy Adu some thirty yards out resulted in another Aris free-kick.
Despite his earlier effort, Nafti left this one to Neto, who showed typical Brazilian quality in getting it over the wall and into the bottom corner with a stunning strike.
Aris looked for more goals, and on occasions seemed more than capable of getting them, but somehow the Levadiakos defence held out to limit the home side to just 1-0.
It was a win that, coupled with Kavala's loss, ensured Aris' spot in this season's play-offs.
93.3 percent of voters in the poll correctly predicted that Aris would see off the challenge of Levadiakos, so well done to the majority!
Barney's prediction: Aris win (3-1) Actual result: Aris win (1-0)
Correct prediction streak: One match in a row!
Aris 2-0 PAOK (Aris become new champions)
Aris 1-0 Levadiakos
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Aris' next title defence comes on Sunday as they face Asteras Tripolis in the Greek Super League.
Form Book (last five matches): Asteras Tripolis - LLLLW; Aris - WWDDW
Barney's prediction: Asteras Tripolis 0-2 Aris
What are your predictions for this upcoming fixture? Will Asteras Tripolis pull off a big shock, winning the UWCC title and retaining their Super League status in one go, or will Aris put the pressure on AEK for fourth place in the penultimate game of the regular season?
Voice your opinions in the comments section!
To see Neto's spectacular goal, click here.
ATTENTION: DUE TO AN IMMINENT 7 WEEK ROADTRIP ACROSS AMERICA, UWCC DUTIES HAVE BEEN HANDED OVER TO THE VERY CAPABLE YOOSOF FARAH DURING THAT TIME!
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