Last week’s results in the Cyprus football championship reduced the gap between the top two to four points, while at the other end the same margin separates the three teams battling to avoid relegation.
The Nicosia derby between leaders Apoel and fifth-placed Omonia takes centre stage this weekend with Apoel unbeaten against their bitter rivals in over four years.
However Apoel are going through a poor run of form, clearly evident in their last couple of games where they were predictable and complacent, meaning their long run against the Greens could be under threat.
Their coach Thomas Christiansen has come under fierce criticism from a large section of Apoel’s demanding fan base for his team selection and poor results, and any mishaps against their bitter rivals may signal a chain of unpleasant events for champions.
Winger Aloneftis has added to Christiansen’s woes as he is highly doubtful for Sunday’s game after picking up an injury in last Wednesday’s cup game against AEL.
With Yianniotas suspended, and Efraim still out injured, Apoel have been left with just one recognised wide players in Vander. Influential midfielder Vinicius will also miss the game as he is still at least a week away from full match fitness.
Things are looking much brighter (for a change) for their rivals Omonia both on and off the field.
The feud between management and the fans seems to have been overcome after the former caved in to the demands of the latter, something that will signal the return of Omonia fans to the ground. The 2,200 tickets allocated for the visitors have been snapped up in record time.
On the playing side, their coach Akis Ioakim has a full squad to choose from as both Arnasson and Constantinides have been training with the rest of the squad for 10 days now while Margaca has served his one game ban.
Elsewhere, second-placed Apollon travel to Larnaca to face Anorthosis. They are aware though that their hosts remain the only team they have been unable to defeat this season and more importantly it’s been two and a half years since they last won at the Antonis Papadopoulos.
Apollon will be without their midfield strongman Sachetti and Semedo but the Limassol team has the squad depth to replace both effectively.
Anorthosis will also be without two key players in goalkeeper Koprivec and defender Mitrovic with Papdopoulos standing in for the suspended keeper while either Economides or Calderon will take the place of Mitrovic.
In Limassol AEL entertain AEK with both teams desperate for the three points.
AEL want to hang onto fourth place while AEK do not want their remarkable win against Apoel last week to go to waste.
AEL have begun to improve in recent games under new coach Bruno Baltazar and will be tough opponents for the Larnaca team who will be without the suspended Triscovski and possibly Laban, who injured himself in training during the week.
Despite winning five of their last six games Doxa Katokopias are still four points from safety and against Ethnikos Achnas they will be playing out another final if they are to keep alive their hopes of first division football for next year.
Karmiotissa and Aris are the two teams being chased by Doxa and both have tough games against Nea Salamina and Ermis Aradippou respectively.
Anorthosis v Apollon 7pm
Doxa v Ethnikos 4pm
Karmiotissa v Nea Salamina 5pm
Apoel v Omonia 4pm
AEL v AEK 6pm
Ermis v Aris 5pm
Apoel 68 points
Nea Salamina 37
Ethnikos Achnas 33