Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thessaloniki December 2007

At this time of year Thessaloniki has few tourists.

On a Friday or Saturday night there is a vibrant bar & restaurant scene as the locals , well wrapped up, parade along the seafront.

Inventive xmas lights add to the scene.

Unlike Athens there are not many tourists & therefore no hustlers.

The fashion features are large sunglasses, cigarettes, porcelain skin & the look of Vera Farmiga (The Departed)

Your correspondents food & drink of choice was kebabs, ouzo, bread sticks & baklava.

starbucks count - 4

As for the football this comprised seeing three games in three stadiums a few kilometres apart.

Aris 1 Braga 1 UEFA Cup

Aris play in an atmospheric medium size stadium, a bus ride from the centre.
For me there is something special about arriving at a stadium within a built up area, the mingling crowds , the ground hemmed in by buildings all serve enhance the atmosphere & intensity.

Despite it having 3 open sides the locals can certainly generate some noise.
That & the paper storm, flares ,smoke & counter-chanting made it an interesting night.

No doubt this atmosphere goes a long way towards maintaining their fearsome home record.

Braga , skillful & well organised scored early following a goalie error then tended to contain Aris apart from a cross & header converted by defender Ronaldo Guiaro.

The draw means that one or other will probably miss out on going through to the next phase.

PAOK 2 Veria 0

a regulation win for PAOK in the Super League with South African Glen Salmon leading the way with an excellent traditional centre forwards performance - winning most headers , showing good control & getting a goal.

Again the counter chanting is impressive - even the main stand joining in.

The stadium , larger, is again near a built up area.
For a bigger game I'm sure the home support (and surroundings) would be very intimidating.

Iraklis 0 Panathinaikos 1

the last of the three games in this trip. Walkable from the centre the stadium is (again) 3 open sides & a covered main stand with a track around.

The big team from Athens bring around 300 supporters located behind one goal opposite which are the 'blue boys' of Iraklis.

Panathinaikos score fairly early & perhaps predictably tend to control the game apart from some Iraklis flourishes . Some offside decisions upset the locals but in the end they have to accept the defeat.

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