Panathinaikos midfielder Gilberto Silva says criticism for a slow start to his career in Greece is unfair.
The former Arsenal and Brazil captain was voted the Greek Super League player of the round following a match-winning performance against Skoda Xanthi last weekend.
Silva, who became the most expensive player in the history of Greek football when he moved to Panathinaikos during the summer, scored his first goal for the club on Saturday.
However, he insists his lack of attacking impact is a result of his role in the team, rather than his performance.
“People are waiting for me to do things like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Robinho,” Silva said. “But I’m not that type of player.
“I have a defensive role and I look to bring balance to the team.
“In the past few weeks I’ve been feeling better and as I perform better, my confidence grows.”
With his team currently sitting in third place, nine points off league leaders Olympiakos, the midfielder who enjoyed a highly successful career in England is looking to bring a Greek title to his new club to end their four-year drought.
“The championship is what we want and we will give our best to win it,” Silva said.
“We have two games to finish the year and we want to take maximum points.
“We want to start the new year well, something we didn’t do at the start of the season.”
Archive for December, 2008
Player Ratings: Panathinaikos 1-0 Anorthosis Famagusta
Panathinaikos booked their place in the Last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and Goal.com’s Chris Paraskevas gives you his verdict on who starred - and choked - during their final group stage clash with Anorthosis Famagusta…
Gilberto – 8.0: An irrepressible first-half display saw the former Arsenal captain drive his team forward at every opportunity, taking up intelligent positions within the Anorthosis half and spreading the play extremely well at times, stretching an otherwise comfortable Cypriot defence. Linked up well with lone striker Vaggelis Mantzios in particular, though his influence waned slightly during the second-half, where he sat deeper and was non-existent as an attacking threat. Nonetheless used all of his experience to guide the Greeks into the next round – has been a calming influence in midfield throughout the campaign.
Gilberto reflected on an “amazing achievement” after Henk ten Cate’s Panathinaikos FC clinched a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League as Group B winners with a 1-0 win against Anorthosis Famagusta FC on Matchday 6.
Giorgos Karagounis’ 69th-minute strike proved enough to clinch the victory which, combined with FC Internazionale Milano’s 2-1 defeat by Werder Bremen, saw Pana claim top spot in the pool, completing a remarkable turnaround for Ten Cate’s side. “It’s simply fantastic. To finish first in the group is incredible,” said Gilberto. “It is an amazing achievement because we perhaps didn’t expect it to happen after the bad start we had.”
Passion and experience
Panathinaikos had looked to be out of contention after picking up just one point from their first three matches. However, away wins against Werder Bremen (3-0) and Inter (1-0) followed before Tuesday’s success on Ten Cate’s 54th birthday ended Anorthosis’ impressive debut campaign in the competition and propelled the Greek side to the summit.
‘A long way’
“We always believed in ourselves, and through our passion and experience we have managed not only to qualify but to do it as group winners,” continued the former Arsenal FC midfielder. “We feel we can go a long way in the competition if we play as we have done in the last three matches. In the next phase, however, things are different. We need to be at our best.”
‘Anything can happen’
Match-winner Karagounis was given a rousing reception from the 70,000 supporters packed inside the OACA Spiros Louis Stadium when substituted late on, and the Greek international was delighted with the result. “It is vital that we have qualified as group winners. We have finished above Inter Milan which is a great achievement,” said the 31-year-old. “We are now among the 16 best teams in Europe.” Karagounis, whose galvanising displays have been a key factor for his club in the campaign so far, continued: “I don’t have a particular preference for our next opponents, we will wait for the draw to see. All the teams in the knockout stage are good and whoever we play will pose a difficult challenge for us, but anything can happen.”
Panathinaikos beats Xanthi 2-1 in Greek league
ATHENS, Greece: Croatian striker Ante Rukavina came off the bench to score the winner for 10-man Panathinaikos to beat Xanthi 2-1 in the Greek league on Saturday.
Brazilian midfielder Gilberto Silva gave Panathinaikos the lead in the 22nd minute off a perfect pass from 18-year-old Sotiris Ninis. It was Gilberto’s first goal in 10 matches for the Athens club.