By Iacovos Constantinou
Table-toppers APOEL face third-placed AEL in what is undoubtedly the most intriguing game of the fifth round of the Cyprus football championship.
Second-placed Apollonas appear to have a much easier match, at least on paper, at home to newcomers Othellos Athienou.
APOEL will be seeking their fifth straight win against AEL at the GSP stadium on Saturday in order to complete a tough opening fixture sequence in the best possible way.
With Tuesday’s Champions League clash at home to Ajax on his mind as well, coach Giorgos Donis is set to continue with his squad rotation, resting some players and giving playing time to others.
However, as APOEL almost paid the price for too much tinkering against Anorthosis in midweek, Donis may not make drastic changes to his ‘best’ eleven.
He cannot call upon the injured Anastasios Papazoglou while star signing Rafik Djebbour is returning from injury and the best he can hope for is a place on the bench.
John Arne Riise should get some more playing time while Vinicius is expected to start the game.
AEL, who lost to Apollonas last week, travel to Nicosia knowing that they must avoid defeat at all costs as this would leave them eight points off the top.
Bulgarian coach Ivaylo Petev will be without the suspended Sardinero and most probably Barcelos, who seems to have been unable to shake off his niggling injury.
However since taking over a year or so ago, Petev has never lost two consecutive games with AEL and he is hoping that this pattern will continue.
Apollonas will be without the injured Rezek and Hamdani against Othellos, while coach Christakis Christophorou is also expected to rest key players ahead of their Europa League clash against Villareal on Thursday.
Othellos, with four points so far, were desperately unlucky not to get anything out of their game against Omonia on Wednesday, losing to a last minute goal.
They are a well-organised team that most opponents will find very difficult to break down.
Anorthosis take on bottom of the table Ayia Napa at the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium.
Despite collecting just three points so far, Anorthosis should be able to record their second win of the season.
Omonia travel to Achna on Sunday to face Ethnikos in a game that can go either way while Doxa Katokopias entertain Nea Salmina.
The final game of the round will take place on Monday evening where two in-form teams, AEK and Ermis Aradippou, will clash at the GSZ stadium.
Saturday, September 27th: APOEL vs AEL (18.00), Apollonas vs Othellos & Anorthosis vs Othellos (20.00)
Sunday, September 28th: Ethnikos Achnas vs Omonia (19.00), Doxa vs Nea Salamina (20.00)
Monday, September 29th: AEK vs Ermis Aradippou (19.00)