By Iacovos Constantinou
The long awaited top of the table clash between leaders Apollon and second placed APOEL stands out in this penultimate round of the normal season. In the other big game of the weekend, AEL take on Omonia at the Tsireion stadium.
Apollon, unbeaten in their last eight games, travel to Nicosia with a three point cushion over their opponents APOEL. This will allow them to pack their midfield and counter with their lightning fast attacking duo of Guie and Pamboulis, a game-plan that worked ever so well against Omonia the previous week.
With the home factor unlikely to play any significance due to the fact that only retirees and under twelve-year-olds accompanied by their mothers can attend the game the Limassol team will be hoping to put an end to a run that has seen them fail to pick up even one point in their last seven visits.
German coach Thorsten Fink has gradually begun to impose his style of play and thinking at APOEL. The champions have improved with every game and against Doxa they were a joy to watch at times.
However key players (Manduca, Aloneftis, Vinicius) are still missing from the team but Tomas de Vincenti seems to be picking up while Djebbour is bursting with energy. Brazilian defender Carlao is included in the squad but lacks match fitness to return in such an important game.
Referee for the game is Leontios Trattos, a strange decision as he had been sidelined in recent weeks. The bald headed ref is one of the stricter but fair refs in the game.
AEL take on Omonia in Limassol knowing that anything other than a win will be a disaster for their top six aspirations. In fact if they win by three goals and Omonia slip up on the final day as well, then AEL can pip Omonia into sixth place.
Omonia have a lot problems coming in to this game with their leading marksmen Pote out for a couple of months while they will be deprived the services of Rubio for at least four weeks. Nuno Assis and Lobianitze are suspended.
Bottom of the table Ayia Napa will need to take all three points against fellow strugglers Othellos in this six pointer to stand any chance of survival.
Elsewhere Ermis is expected to collect three points against a very poor Nea Salamina while AEK Larnaca and Anorthosis should have few problems in overcoming Ethnikos Achnas and Doxa respectively.
Saturday: APOEL vs Apollon, AEL vs Omonia, Ermis vs Nea Salamina all at 4pm
Sunday: Ayia Napa vs Othellos, AEK vs Ethnikos, Anorthosis vs Doxa all at 4pm