Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Europa League clash between Apollon Limassol and Olympiacos, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Apollo Limassol and Olympiacos square off at the Tsirion Athlitiko Kentro in the first leg of their Europa League qualifying playoff round matchup on Thursday.
The home side, who head into the game fresh off the back of clinching the Cyprus Super Cup title, will look to continue in the same vein and place one foot in the group stages of the competition.
Apollon Limassol got their 2022-23 domestic campaign off to a flyer as they claimed a 2-0 victory over Omonia Nicosia in the Cyprus Super Cup final last Friday.
In a game where Andreas Panagiotou Filiotis received his marching orders, goals from Bagaliy Dabo and ford either side of the half-time break saw David Catala‘s side clinch their first piece of silverware of the season.
Prior to that, the Cyprus outfit were dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers despite a 2-0 second-leg win over Maccabi Haifa on August 9 as they were beaten 4-2 on aggregate by the Israeli side.
Apollon Limassol, who are seeking a third consecutive win for the first time since February, will now take their first step towards securing a place in the group stages of the Europa League.
However, Catala’s men have managed just two victories in their seven competitive games on home turf since February, losing twice and claiming three draws in that time.
Olympiacos, on the other hand, progressed through the Europa League third qualifying round by the skin of their teeth as they needed penalties to see off Slovan Bratislava.
Having played out a 1-1 draw in Greece, the Thrylos traveled to the Tehelne Pole Stadium for their second-leg clash last Thursday, where they held on for a thrilling 2-2 draw before claiming a 4-3 victory in a nervy penalty shoot out.
Prior to that, Carlos Corberan‘s men endured a torrid pre-season campaign where they picked up two wins and lost four of their eight friendly outings before crashing out of the Champions League qualifiers courtesy of a 5-1 aggregate loss against Maccabi Haifa.
Olympiacos will fancy their chances of stealing an early advantage this Thursday as they head into the game unbeaten in their last six competitive outings away from home, claiming four wins and two draws since April’s 1-0 loss against Panathinaikos.
Apollon Limassol form (all competitions):
Olympiacos Europa League form:
Olympiacos form (all competitions):
Apollon Limassol will be without 22-year-old midfielder Ilian Ilievwho continues his long road to full fitness after suffering a metatarsal fracture back in April.
Veteran forward Nicolas Diguiny was missing for the cup victory over Omonia Nicosia last time out and the 34-year-old is a major doubt for Thursday’s encounter.
Neither far nor Olympiacos are concerned, they will have to cope without the injured Garry Rodrigueswho netted five goals in 19 league appearances last season.
My Vrsaljkowho was recently signed from Spanish heavyweight Atletico Madrid, is also set to miss his third straight game after coming off with an injury against Maccabi Haifa back in July.
Former Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a major doubt for the home side after the 34-year-old missed the second leg against Slovan Bratislava through a muscle issue.
Apollon Limassol possible starting lineup:
Jovanovic; Peybernes, Kyriakou, Roberge, Khanmas; Va, Coll, Ongenda, Pittas; Diguiny, Janga
Olympiacos possible starting lineup:
Vaclik; Pipa, Ba, Cisse, Reabciuk; Valbuena, Kunde, M’Vila; Zinckernagel, El-Arabi, Randelovic
We say: Apollon Limassol 3-2 Olympiacos
Buoyed by their Super Cup triumph, Apollon Limassol will head into Thursday with sky-high confidence as they seek a third straight win in all competitions. The Cyprus outfit take on a struggling opposing side who have managed just one win in their last five outings and we fancy them coming out on top in front of their home fans.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
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