Two very important games take place this weekend in the penultimate round of the regular season in the Cyprus football championship as leaders Apoel travel to Limassol to face second-placed Apollon while fourth-placed AEL make the reverse journey to Nicosia to take on the team just below them, Omonia.
The Apollon vs Apoel game will take place on Monday due to Sunday’s Limassol Carnival and this has given Apoel an extra day to rest following their heroic qualification to the last 16 of the Europa league on Thursday night.
The Limassol team is in more need of the win as they trail Apoel by six points. Their task will not be easy against the meanest defence in the championship.
Apoel coach Thomas Christiansen’s biggest task ahead of the game is to bring his players back down to earth and concentrate on the clash with one of the better teams in the championship.
Christiansen admitted that this will not be easy, saying: “What we achieved is remarkable and we are all elated but it is my job to get the players in the right frame of mind for Monday’s game.”
The Dane will surely rest some players but as they showed against AEL last week, the game that followed the first leg in Bilbao, Apoel have such a depth to their squad that any changes should not affect the team’s performance.
Vinicius is suspended for the game while Bertoglio is still nursing an injury with winter signing Kanias expected to take the place of Vinicius, with Igor de Camargo, David Barral and Embezilio all vying for the spot just behind their top scorer Pieros Sotiriou in attack.
Apollon have problems especially in defence and their coach Sofronis Avgousti will have to decide on who will replace his most consistent defender, Roberge, who is suspended, and Tiago Gomes who pulled a hamstring in their midweek cup win against Omonia.
Omonia and AEL both lost their last league games and neither side can afford to drop more points.
Omonia are in the middle of a crisis. They sacked their coach John Carver on Thursday, with fans also demanding the resignation of two board members otherwise they will not attend any more games.
The unenviable task of coaching Omonia for the game has been given to their youth coach and former player Akis Ioakim.
Ioakim will have to select a makeshift backline as Arnasson, Carlitos, Costantinides and Panayiotou are either injured or suspended.
AEL are a tough side to score against but goals do not come easy for Pambos Christodoulou’s side.
Skipper Dossa Junior and goalkeeper Romo are both injured and Christodoulou will most likely give recent signing Bogdan Mitrea the chance to shine at the back despite his lack of playing time.
Elsewhere, Ermis Aradippou host third-placed AEK with the Larnaca team hoping to take advantage of dropped points from the other four teams playing against each other.
It will not be easy for AEK as Ermis need the points to keep their slim hopes of a top-six finish alive.
The two teams that seem certain for automatic relegation, Anagennisi Dheryneia and AEZ Zakakiou, will battle it out with Anagennisi hoping to finally record their first win of the season.
Doxa Katokopias need the points against Aris to have a fighting chance of avoiding relegation in the playoffs, with their closest rival Karmiotssa up against the vastly improved Anorthosis who can secure sixth place if results go their way.
In the final weekend game on Sunday, Ethnikos Achnas take on Nea Salamina.