By Nemanja Bjedov
Apollon will be buoyed by their Europa Group J performances so far when they host Italian powerhouse Lazio on Thursday at Nicosia’s GSP Stadium, while APOEL will bid for a positive result against Bordeaux away in Group F.
Italian football teams have never been defeated by any Cypriot side, at home or away, in 20 UEFA club competition matches, only four of which have been draws. However, Apollon were one of the teams who managed to remain unbeaten at home as they earned a sound 3-3 draw against Inter Milan in the 1993-94 UEFA Cup second round, though they were eventually eliminated following a 1-0 defeat in Italy.
Apollon coach Christakis Christoforou cannot count on French midfielder Bertrand Robert, Ivory Coast striker Abraham Gneki Guie and Charalambos Kyriakou for the Lazio clash, with his team currently third in Group J with three points from two games.
The GSP Stadium clash has been scheduled for 8pm and Portuguese referee Manuel De Sousa is the match official.
After suffering an unexpected 2-0 loss to Ermis Aradippou in the national championship last weekend, in what was Giorgos Donis’ first match in charge of the Cypriot champions, the Greek coach and APOEL will be looking to improve their form against French outfit Bordeaux, who are yet to earn a single point in Group F.
The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, and this is Bordeaux’s maiden encounter with Cypriot opponents, but they will be encouraged by the fact no Cypriot team has ever won in France.
APOEL have played four matches against French opposition and recorded one victory and three defeats. They have yet to score a goal in France, but their last meeting with a French side holds positive memories as they eliminated Olympique Lyonnais in the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
Donis has a full squad to choose from, as the only player who was doubtful for the France clash, Nektarios Alexandrou, trained properly with the team and he is now officially fit to feature.
APOEL are currently third in Group F with one point from two matches, earned against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel on the opening match day.
The match at the Chaban-Delmas Stadium kicks off at 10.05pm Cyprus time, with referee Martin Strömbergsson of Sweden officiating.