Round 13 of the Cyprus football championship concludes the first half of the regular season with two crucial games involving teams at the top end of the table, as league leaders Anorthosis take on third-placed AEL and second-placed AEK entertain fifth-placed Pafos FC.
The game at the Antonis Papadopoulos should be a tactical battle between two of the shrewdest coaches in the championship, Ronny Levy of Anorthosis and Bruno Baltazar of AEL.
No goal feast is expected though as both teams possess very well-organised defences boasting the best records in the league.
The home side were given a scare on Thursday when two of their most influential players, Croat pair Daniel Pranjic and Gordon Schildenfeld, withdrew from training with niggling injuries. Both however are expected to be passed fit for today’s crunch game.
AEL spokesman Theodoros Antoniou confirmed that they have no injury concerns and that they will be travelling to Larnaca with the three points as their main objective.
AEK have overcome a rather shaky start to the season and now have five wins from their last six games.
However their coach Imanol Idiakez was quick to point out in his pre-game press conference that against Pafos his team will need to be at their very best if they are to record their ninth win of the season.
He yet again he urged AEK’s supporters to turn up in numbers, stressing how important they are for his team.
A lot will depend on how Pafos can cope with the league’s top scorer, Florian Taulemmeuse, who has been firing in goals with consummate ease.
Pafos have been the pleasant surprise of the season so far and will not travel to Larnaca just to defend.
They have assembled a group of experienced players from a number of European leagues in Diego Poyet, Christian Bruls, Biel Company and Ante Roguljic, and have looked second best in just one of their games so far.
Omonia have not won any of their last three games and there will probably be a major shake-up if they do not manage to defeat Doxa Katokopias at the Makarion stadium.
Doxa are level on points with Omonia but they have yet to get anything out of a game against one of the ‘big’ teams, especially as their coach Loucas Hadjiloucas likes to drop key players when they play against these teams.
Champions Apoel should have an easy afternoon against Olympiakos while the two other weekend games involve teams battling at the wrong end of the table.
Last but one Nea Salamina are at home to Alki while Ermis Aradippou host Limassol side Aris, with just two points separating the four teams.
The final game will take place on Monday between Apollon and bottom side Ethnikos Achnas.
Saturday: Aris vs Ermis, Apoel vs Olympiakos (18.00), Anorthosis vs AEL (19.00)
Sunday: AEK vs Pafos FC (16.00), Doxa vs Omonia, Nea Salamina vs Alki (18.00)
Monday: Apollon vs Ethnikos Achnas (19.00)