The top of the table clash between leaders AEK and second-placed Anorthosis at the Antonis Papadopoulos is the game of the weekend in Cyprus, while the two teams just behind them, Apoel and Apollon, have seemingly easy matches against Alki and Nea Salamina respectively and are expected to close the gap on at least one of the two leading teams.
Anorthosis and AEK have been swapping first place since the first few rounds of the championship with no other team close enough to pose a threat.
However, both clubs dropped points recently allowing Apoel and Apollon to move within striking distance and with games in hand.
Such is the importance of the game that AEK coach Imanol Idiakez said that his team will be gunning for the three points despite facing one of the league’s better teams away from home.
“We remain focused and determined to win the game and preserve our lead at the top,” he said.
AEK will most probably be without striker Ivan Triscovski and Idiakez will be hoping that the league’s runaway top scorer Florian Taulemmeuse will regain his scoring form following a three-game barren spell.
Anorthosis coach Rony Levy will have all his players at his disposal but the team’s main problem this season has been a lack of goals. They have scored just 24 so far, bettering only AEL’s goal tally from the top seven teams.
After a shaky start to the seaso, champions Apoel have gradually clawed their way up the table and are just three points off the top with two games in hand despite being without key players.
In their last game, coach Giorgos Donis had to field a back four consisting of none of his first-choice defenders and even though they conceded two goals in the opening half they still won comfortably by a three-goal margin largely thanks to their potent front line.
Their opponents, mid-table Alki, are a good footballing side but they will be without their talented winger Willy Semedo who is suspended, and it will be considered an upset if they get anything out of the game.
The league’s only remaining unbeaten side Apollon travel to Larnaca to face relegation-threatened Nea Salamina, who began the season with high hopes.
Given their predicament they are aware that staying in the top flight is now their only realistic target. They have already brought in three (of the four allowed) new players in the hope that they can salvage their season.
Apollon’s six-game winning run came to a halt on Wednesday when they were held to a draw against fellow Limassolians AEL.
The league’s top scorers will be looking to bounce back from that setback and they should have their Croatian striker Anton Maglica back in the starting eleven after being out of action for almost six weeks.
Omonia will be looking for their third consecutive win under new Bulgarian coach Ivaylo Petev against Olympiakos while AEL are favourites for a home win against bottom placed Ethnikos Achnas.
In the final weekend game Ermis Aradippou take on Pafos FC in what is expected to be a closely contested game, while the final game of the round will take place on Monday between Aris and Doxa Katokopias.
Saturday: Olympiakos v Omonia (4pm), Ermis v Pafos FC (5pm), N. Salamina v Apollon (7pm)
Sunday: AEL v Ethnikos (3pm), Anorthosis v AEK (4pm), *Apoel v Alki (6pm)
Monday: Aris v Doxa (7pm)
*The game between Apoel and Alki will be played behind closed doors