APOEL vs Anderlecht Prediction, Preview, Lineups & Betting Tips
Anderlecht will fly almost 3000 km to the island of Aphrodite Cyprus, where APOEL looks rock-solid and “The Legend” from Nicosia will look for first win over an opposition from Belgium. Cypriot champions rely on their home fortress and aim to improve achievement they have already made after reaching the UEFA Europa League knockout stage for the first time.
H2H Stats – APOEL vs Anderlecht: APOEL Nicosia and RSC Anderlecht are on the eve of their first ever meeting in UEFA competitions and stake is big enough.
APOEL can’t be particularly pleased with its record against Belgian sides, especially at home turf. Hosts from Nicosia have lost all their home matches against visitors from Belgium and avoided defeat only once in six games – a draw. This forms an overall record of a draw and five defeats, including a 10-1 loss from Lierse back in 1969.
On other hand Anderlecht is flawless against Cypriot teams at home – four wins in four games. Stats of Anderlecht in Cyprus are also not that bad – a win, two draws and a single defeat. Overall record of five wins, two draws and one loss.
Europa League: APOEL vs Anderlecht 09.03.2017
So basically APOEL are keen to pull their first positive result against a Belgian side as the squad led by Thomas Christiansen is invincible at home. “The Legend” celebrated its 90th anniversary in November and winning first position in Group B of the 2016-17 UEFA Europa League was a great achievement. Thus champions of Cyprus will play European football in springtime for the first time after 2012, when APOEL Nicosia have reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Five years after these memorable Champions League knockout games vs Lyon and Real Madrid, APOEL met a Spanish La Liga club at the Europa League round of 32. After losing 3-2 by Athletic Club in Bilbao, APOEL had a really tricky match-up in the second leg but Thomas Christiansen’s men showed great composure. APOEL eliminated Athletic Bilbao with 4-3 on aggregate after a 2-0 win in Nicosia, which came after two second-half goals by club’s top goal scorer Pieros Sotiriou and winger Giannis Gianniotas.
This was the sixth victory for APOEL Nicosia in seven home European games this season, keeping a clean sheet in five of them. So far APOEL have won all their home matches in the Europa League and the only exception from that streak cost them position in the Champions League groups. That happened in end of August when FC Copenhagen scored a late equalizer to eliminate APOEL out of the competition.
Anderlecht is one of the experienced European teams with 386 appearances, placing them sixth in the all-time UEFA competition rankings. Likewise APOEL, Anderlecht made an unsuccessful attempt to become one of the 32 teams participating in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Losing from FK Rostov in the Champions League qualifiers has been followed by a very successful raid in the Europa League. First of all Anderlecht had to deserve its group position through the playoffs where Belgian team won twice and eliminated Slavia Prague with 6-0 on aggregate (3-0 in both games).
The 2016-17 UEFA Europa League group stage draw has awarded Anderlecht a same path alongside AS Saint-Étienne, Mainz 05 and Qabala. Belgian club finished second in Group C where Rhené Weiler’s men have lost only once and scored 16 goals in six games.
Anderlecht was extremely close to drop a two goal lead in the round of 32 when after winning 2-0 in Brussels, Russian Zenit took a 3-0 lead in Saint Petersburg. Then Swedish striker Isaac Kiese Thelin scored for Anderlecht and his goal was more than a consolation, giving a lead to Anderlecht thanks to the away goal rule. With 3-3 on aggregate (2-0, 1-3), “RSCA” eliminated Zenit Saint Petersburg and Belgium remains the only nation having three teams at the UEFA Europa League round of 16.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
Anderlecht comes after a 3-2 loss to Mechelen on Saturday evening and that was their first league defeat since November. In that period RSCA won 10 league games and three have ended with a draw, which places Anderlecht on top of the table but they have same number of points with Club Brugge – 58. That positioning is accurate one round before beginning of the playoffs in top-tier of Belgian football so the real battle is yet to come.
RSCA were close to avoid a defeat from Mechelen as the hosts were leading 2-0 on half-time but two second-half goals by top scorer Lukasz Teodorczyk and defender Bram Nuytinck leveled the score. And when everyone thought Anderlecht can even chase the victory, left-back Ivan Obradovic picked up an injury. Obradovic was replaced by the 36-year-old Olivier Deschacht seconds before Tim Matthys’s winning goal and exactly the passive positioning of Deschacht was key to success of Mechelen.
Ivan Obradovic got injured earlier in second-half but he tried to play rest of the match. It seems that was not the best decision and Obradovic suffers from a sprained ankle, which makes him a doubt. First impressions were that Obradovic will be recovering for around three weeks but some sources close to the club mentioned that the absence of Serbian left-back should not be long.
In case that Obradovic misses out game in Cyprus we won’t be surprised if winger Frank Acheampong covers the left-back, like he already did earlier in the season when Obradovic was unavailable. He had almost an year of recovery after a knee ligaments surgery.
Senegalese defender Kara Mbodji missed last round with a knee injury and expectations are he won’t be ready to feature against APOEL. Another player who won’t play is French midfielder Adrien Trebel, who joined RSCA in the winter and is ineligible for the Europa League.
APOEL enjoyed to a huge win last weekend when Cypriot champion defeated its rival Omonia Nicosia and remains on top of the standings. Victory came right on time and after two goals from penalties. Both penalties were given in closing seconds of the first-half as the first one was scored by Pieros Sotiriou while winter addition David Barral scored the second. Latter is expected to lead APOEL’s attack on Thursday since Sotiriou has been sent off during second leg against Athletic Bilbao.
Absence of Pieros Sotiriou is the only major concern of Thomas Christiansen who can choose whether to stick to the 4-4-2 formation or to use 4-2-3-1. In both cases he may use experienced Belgian striker Igor de Camargo who can play either as a secondary or central forward.
Matchday update: Midfielder Vinicius who missed victory against Omonia last weekend may miss the game and Lorenzo Ebecilio can be a potential replacement of the Brazilian.
APOEL vs Anderlecht Betting Prediction
APOEL Nicosia is eager to put an end of that painful record when facing Belgian clubs. Their home performances are a good sign this can happen and we must consider that “The Legend” already won against Rosenborg, Olympiacos, Young Boys, FC Astana and Athletic Bilbao.
Anderlecht is a team that can play with higher pace and we doubt APOEL will give them an opportunity to do so in Cyprus.
Cypriot champion is a club that pretty much relies on home games and we find good value to place a bet on APOEL Nicosia with the Asian Handicap 0 (Draw No Bet) on their side.
Venue: “Neo GSP”, Nicosia.
Referee: Manuel De Sousa from Portugal.
Possible Lineups of APOEL and Anderlecht
APOEL Nicosia: Boy Waterman – Nikolas Ioannou, Giorgos Merkis, Iñaki Astiz, Zhivko Milanov – Georgios Efrem, Lorenzo Ebecilio, Nuno Morais, Giannis Gianniotas – Igor de Camargo, David Barral. (4-4-2)
RSC Anderlecht: Frank Boeckx – Frank Acheampong, Bram Nuytinck, Uros Spajic, Andy Najar – Youri Tielemans, Leander Dendoncker – Massimo Bruno, Sofiane Hanni, Alexandru Chipciu – Lukasz Teodorczyk. (4-2-3-1)