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Świat okiem kibica

The World Seen With  A Football Fan's Eye

PAOK Thessaloniki

30.07.2015 EUROPE'S LEAGUE 2015/2016
PAOK Thessaloniki - Spartak Trnava 1:0

The ticket office assistant smiled when she found out we are Polish (foreigners have to produce passports while purchasing tickets) – in autumn she is supposed to start a semester of study (pedagogics) at the Lodz University – the world is really small.
Prior to the match kick-off we visited the club’s store at the stadium. To our surprise, selection of T-shirts and even match jerseys was relatively moderate compared with the plethora of designs proudly worn by the fans. I wonder where they get their stuff from…
Owner of the food box where we got our drinks very much appreciated when I specifically asked for an Alfa (Greek beer) as he was sure I would be grabbing Heineken, Amstel or the likes. Some one hour before the kick-off plenty of men (and women) dressed in black surrounded the venue, the impression was kind of gothic-penitential. Equipped with tickets for the main tribune we took our seats and soon were surrounded by the cigarette smoke – it seems only infants do not smoke in Greece.
The match could not have started more vigorously: already in the second minute a PAOK defender was sent off the pitch for a deliberate foul on a Spartak striker reaching one-on-one position with the Greek team goalkeeper. The audience protested rather proforma, the foul was evident and the referee’s decision undisputable. Now the bar was put for PAOK even higher: being the firm favourite of the match, it is still challenging to succeed in 10, the more that the guest team appeared pretty well organised and besides, the temperature (in excess of 30 degrees Celsius) by no means could be considered a supporting factor.
As said, the Slovak team presented a very decent football. This is valid for their captain in particular – 25-year old Eric Szabo offered a very rich scope of his skills: theoretically a classic midfield, he was equally capable of play making along with a number of clearly defensive tackles as well as dynamic wing rallies. It will be somewhat surprising if the player is not on the radar screen of the scouts from Europe’s major leagues – unless Mr Szabo is OK in Trnava and does not plan to move anywhere.
The audience pressure went on and one need to admit that the striking force of PAOK (the no. “9” Lucas) was really doing his best so that all three points do not leave Thessaloniki that night. The effort was ultimately rewarded, Ms Fortune happens to be pretty gracious in such circumstances. The Slovaks suffered a lot from the lost goal as they were pretty close to getting a lead themselves and they simply did not deserve a defeat. The fans, spoiled with the last round’s score (Lokomotiv Zagreb was smashed 6:0) had to accept a pretty modest size of the win this time. The Toumba Stadium was getting empty slowly and peacefully – the latter to the hidden satisfaction of the preventive police forces gathered near the venue.