The big clash of round three of the Cyprus playoffs is undoubtedly the meeting between Apollon and Apoel in Limassol – the two teams leading the championship race – with the Limassol side holding a two-point advantage over the champions.
The last time the two sides met was on the last day of the regular season in Limassol with Apollon that time topping the table by a single point.
Against the odds, Apoel deservedly won and went into the playoffs with a two-point advantage which they have since surrendered after drawing their first two playoff games and Apollon winning both of theirs.
Apollon though are fully aware of the danger that Apoel poses, especially when they are backed into a corner. Under similar circumstances the Nicosia team put five past them in their first round game in Nicosia.
Apollon coach Sofronis Avgousti will be hoping that this time he can outsmart Apoel’s Italian coach Paolo Trammezani and open up a five-point lead at the top.
Apollon’s press spokesperson Fanourios Constantinou admitted that a win for his side will give them a clear advantage over Apoel in the race for the championship but not the title itself as there will still be seven games to be played.
“The two best teams will be competing on Sunday and the one that makes the fewer mistakes will win,” said Fanourios.
His Apoel counterpart Nectarios Petevinos more or less echoed the same thing saying: “It (the game) won’t decide the title but it may go a long way in deciding the eventual champions.”
On the playing side Avgousti will be without Facundo Perreira but Kevin Bru seems be winning his fitness race despite initial fears that he would miss out.
Tramezzani seems to have lost the plot over the past couple of months. His team has managed just two wins from their last seven games and most worryingly their displays justified nothing more.
The Italian has chopped and changed his side trying to find a solution but has persisted on two fronts, playing with three central defenders and more surprisingly demoting Apoel’s captain and most influential player, Nuno Morais, to the bench since the beginning of February.
Apoel have two injury worries ahead of the game with the odds against Pantelis Vouros making the team but with Carlao expected to be passed fit and taking his place alongside Merkis and Ioannou at the heart of Apoel’s defence.
The two other Sunday games involve the relegation group with Pafos FC at home to Anorthosis and Alki taking on Doxa Katokopias.
Pafos FC tend to perform much better against the ‘stronger’ teams and will be looking to take advantage of Anorthosis’ off field problems and sneak the win.
In the other game Alki can pull five points clear of the relegation zone if they manage to overcome Doxa Katokopias, whose season imploded since Janauary, despite a promising start.
As things are right now in the bottom group, four teams, Alki, Pafos FC, Doxa and Enosis are separated by just two points and one of them will join doomed Ermis Aradippou in the second division.
Pafos v Anorthosis (R)16.00, Alki v Doxa (R)18.00, Apollon v Apoel (C) 18.00