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Apoel on a roll ahead of clash with Young Boys

Cyprus champions Apoel are top of their Europa League group after winning their first two games, which included a memorable three points away to Olympiacos

Apoel are in Switzerland on Thursday to take on Young Boys of Bern where they will be looking to continue their fine start to their Europa League campaign.

The Cypriots are top of Group B after winning their first two games against Astana and Olympiacos respectively, and another positive result will have them seriously thinking about qualification to the knockout stage.

Apoel have travelled to Switzerland without Andrea Orlandi and Igor de Camargo who are not fully fit.

Thomas Christiansen’s side breezed past AE Zakakiou with a 4-1 away win on Saturday to stay within two points of league leaders AEK and, interestingly, fielded a full strength side. Pieros Sotiriou, the hero in Piraeus last time out thanks to his winning goal, looks to have fully recovered from his injury that kept him out of Cyprus’ qualifier against Greece, and is almost guaranteed to start with De Camargo ruled out.

Young Boys drew their match last Sunday 0-0 away to Lugano, and the Swiss side’s manager Adi Hutter also opted for a familiar line-up, aside from striker Michael Frey who started on the bench.

Apoel press officer Nektarios Petevinos spoke to the press before the team’s departure, where he stated his hope that the Nicosia giants can repeat the effort shown in the last two European games.

“The fact that we are on six points is an advantage which we hope to defend. It is an important game but not necessarily decisive. It is only the third game of the group. We are aiming for a good performance in Switzerland and if we manage it, we have a chance of winning,” he said shortly before boarding the team plane.

He added: “We hope that, as we did against Olympiacos, at the toughest ground of the group, we will do the same in Switzerland”.

The sides go into the game in contrasting form. Apoel have had a near perfect start to the domestic campaign, dropping just two points out of a possible 21, and lie three points clear at the top of their Europa League group.

Young Boys, however, have won just four of their eleven league games and have drawn their last five games in all competitions. In the Europa League, they sit bottom of the group with one draw against Astana last week. They lost their opening game at home to Olympiacos.

Young Boys are still the bookies’ favourites to win Thursday’s game but Apoel will be feeling confident having finally won their first ever European away game beyond qualifiers against Olympiacos.

The Swiss side have been solid at home in Europe over the years, winning all three group games in the 2014/15 campaign while, this summer, they knocked out Shakhtar Donetsk after a penalty shootout.

A challenge for Apoel will be the Stade de Suisse turf, which is made of artificial grass notorious for causing problems to teams who are unfamiliar with the terrain.

The match kicks-off at 10.05pm Cyprus time and, despite temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius, a heated atmosphere will await the two teams.

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