APOEL are in Norway to take on Rosenborg in the first leg of their third round Champions League qualifying clash on Wednesday night.
After a routine 3-0 aggregate win over The New Saints of Wales, far more will be required from the Cyprus champions if they are to dispose of the Norwegian giants over two legs.
APOEL go into the tie boosted by the double signing of Greek winger Giannis Gianniotas on loan from Olympiacos, who played for them last season from January, and veteran Belgian striker Igor de Camargo from Genk.
The only slight concern is over full-back Zhivko Milanov, who was unable to start last Tuesday’s match and did not train towards the end of the week either. Other than that, manager Thomas Christiansen has a clean bill of health going into Wednesday’s encounter.
APOEL’s head of communications, Nektarios Petevinos spoke to the press shortly before the side’s departure: “Rosenborg are very good at set plays and have a lot of quality up front. We have studied them enough to be prepared. In football, it is important to get a positive result in the first leg.”
Rosenborg defender Jonas Svensson meanwhile gave his thoughts about the game to the club’s official website: “We must remember that the tie will be determined over two matches and that an away goal is hugely important to have going into the second leg,” he said, before adding that Rosenborg “are very strong at home”.
APOEL go into the match on the back of last week’s 3-0 win over The New Saints, which saw them play at a much higher tempo than the 0-0 draw in Wales a fortnight ago.
The Cypriots have played just two official matches, while Rosenborg’s domestic campaign has already begun having played 19 games so far.
Kare Hedley Ingebrigtsen’s men thrashed Haugesund 6-0 over the weekend to maintain their six-point advantage at the top of the table.
Rosenborg’s home form makes for uncomfortable viewing for APOEL. The Norwegians have won all nine of their league matches in front of their own supporters this season, while their last home defeat in the league came in May 2014, 35 matches ago.
In Europe however, their last four games have resulted in three defeats and one draw in last season’s Europa League campaign.
While they have lost their last six away group matches in European competition, APOEL have lost just one of their last seven Champions League qualifying games. Five have resulted in draws and their last victory came last season at the same stage as Wednesday’s game, incidentally against Scandinavian opposition in Danish outfit FC Midtjylland.
However APOEL have a good record against Scandinavian teams in Europe. In eight meetings so far, they were eliminated just once, back in 1979.
Given Rosenborg’s prolific attack, Christiansen may decide to abandon his much favoured 4-1-4-1 team formation for a more defensive 4-2-3-1 with Vinícius Oliveira Franco or Costakis Artymatas partnering Nuno Morais in the midfield holding position.
The match will take place at the Lerkendal Stadion, which tends to gather around 15,000 supporters, and will kick off at 8.15pm Cyprus time.