This season is a transitional one for FC Panathinaikos.
Coach Giannis Anastasiou tried to build a new team from scratch with an extremely cut down budget. To do so he decided to use a lot of youngsters from the youth academy of the club.
Anastasiou’s starting XI in the Greek Classico the previous Saturday consisted of four players that were only 20 years-old.
The average age of Panathinaikos’ starting XI was 23 years-old, the youngest ever for Panathinaikos in a Classico match.
We are talking about players that have never before experienced an atmosphere like the one of a Greek Classico.
Panathinaikos youngsters, who were very stressed and nervous from the surrounding atmosphere, stepped up and gradually took the control of the match.
They controlled the pace of the match and started to threat Olympiacos. David Mendes da Silva was the best of Panathinaikos lead the youngsters of the club.
In his first really good performance, Mendes showed to the rest of the world what Anastasiou expects him to offer to the club.
He set the pace, he helped both his defensive line but also created dangerous situations.
He ran all the pitch, he had a chance to score but he missed it and generally Mendes showed some aspects of his talent.
Mendes inspired his teammates and Panathinaikos took over the match. Finally in a moment of inertia Olympiacos class was revealed by scoring a late goal and grabbing the win.
But I do believe that the real winner of this match is Panathinaikos.
First of all that match gave the chance to Panathinaikos’ youngsters to start believing in themselves.
They understood that they can confront the highly respected players of Olympiacos. All they have to do is keep working hard.
In addition to this Panathinaikos earned David Mendes da Silva. Anastasiou expects a lot from the experienced midfielder and that was the first match that Mendes responded to the expectations.
Mendes had a great game and everyone hopes he can continue like this. In addition to this, Panathinaikos gained the trust of the fans. Everyone expected this match as a test for the character of the club.
They wanted to see whether this roster is worthy of building a trusting relationship with. During the match against Olympiacos Panathinaikos answered this question and the fans were satisfied with that answer.
After the final whistle of the referee the fans applauded Panathinaikos players acknowledging the effort and the passion on behalf of the players putting aside the fact that they lost the match.
This could be the start of a good relationship between the roster and the fans, something that was missing from Panathinaikos in the last years.
That is the most important in my opinion. The start of reestablishing a healthy relationship with the fans of the club.
The fans are of vital importance for clubs and especially one like Panathinaikos which are on transitional seasons and they will need all the support available. So a defeat for now in the “Greek Classico” which could lead to a brighter future.
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