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May 21, 2019
Cyprus Mail
Cyprus football Football Sport

Crucial clash in Limassol between top two sides

Action from when the two sides met in Nicosia in December

The big clash between the two teams leading the championship race, Apollon and Apoel, will decide as to who will enter the playoffs in pole position with a draw favouring the team from Limassol.

A win for Apollon will see them pull four points clear of the champions making them firm favourites to lift the championship for the first time since season 2005-2006 and put a stop to Apoel’s six-year reign as the top side in Cyprus football.

Apollon will be looking to avenge their 5-1 thrashing in the corresponding first round fixture match in early December and their loss in Limassol last season, where a win would have pulled them well clear at the top.

After going through a rough patch following their 5-1 defeat, Apollon have gradually regained their early season sparkle that saw them score at will and tie up the points before the break.

Key players, like Sachetti and Bru, have put their injury woes behind them, with experienced central defender Yuste also expected back in the next couple of weeks.

However they were dealt a huge set-back last week when their Bosnian-born Croatian striker Anton Maglica left for China to sign for Guizhou Hengfeng.

Apollon’s coach Sofronis Avgousti tried to play down the incident saying that his team has the players to fill the void left by the Croatian and Zelaya, who was asked to lead the attack last Sunday, duly obliged by scoring the opening goal for his team against Alki.

His counterpart at Apoel, Italian Paolo Tramezzani, is for the first time this season facing heavy criticism for his team selections and his formation having won just one league game in his last four and letting slip a healthy four-point lead.

There was also a bust up last week involving Tramezzani and his right wing back Emilio Nsue with the latter suspended from first team action for a week and with rumours rife that the former Birmingham City player may have played his last game for the champions.

Winter signing Jacolis is expected to fill the right wing back role especially if Tramezzani opts for three central defenders, a formation that in recent weeks failed to give him the expected results, especially against lesser opposition.

A lot will also depend on the form of his Jordanian international Al Taamari, who is a shadow of himself since returning from international duty in the Asian’s Cup last month, while a question mark remains as to whether Tramezzani will recall Apoel’s longest serving player, Nuno Morais, to the starting line-up for such a crucial game.

The Italian has a wealth of riches should he decide to ring changes with Efraim, Balogh, Zahid and Bezjak all knocking hard on the first-team door.

Fifth placed Nea Salamina entertain relegation threatened Alki Oroklinis with the home side favourites to pick up the points despite their recent slump in form.

In the final game of the round, fourth placed AEK are at home to another team at the wrong end of the table Enosis Neon Paralimniou.

AEK are the pundits’ favourite but Enosis have proved this season that they are a side that can defend robustly and be extremely dangerous on the break.

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