TNS VS APOEL Nicosia Prediction
The New Saints successfully overcame Tre Penne from San Marino in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League but their second challenge looks much stronger when APOEL Nicosia arrives on Welsh turf.
TNS are one of the professional teams and also most successful team in Welsh Premier League where we have some clubs with semi-professional status and this makes it not so competitive. Indeed, that’s the reason why best Welsh clubs like Swansea and Cardiff City participate in English football system, while The New Saints won the domestic trophy for fifth consecutive season. However, they struggle when it comes to the big games with Champions League trademark and they have been knocked out in most occasions. With few exceptions of course, as the best European performance by The New Saints was back in season 2010–11 when they were eliminated in round three of the Champions League qualifying by Anderlecht, but they had another chance in the Europa League play-offs. Unfortunately, another unsuccessful outcome after losing by CSKA Sofia (2:5 on aggregate).
Only few months before TNS’ highest European record, APOEL Nicosia were part from the UEFA Champions League group phase for the very first time, while 2011–12 was marked by the most remarkable moment in APOEL’s history. The quarter-final (being eliminated by Real Madrid) breakthrough in 2012 was glorious moment not only for APOEL, but for football in Cyprus at all. Furthermore, they can’t always rely to this one and “The Legend” is once again keen to reach any of the UEFA competitions group stages.
APOEL Nicosia won a point in the group stage of season 2014-2015 in the UCL (in a group alongside Barcelona, PSG, Ajax), while last season they had to be pleased with their Europa League position. APOEL was in Group K of the 2015-2016 Europa League where they finished fourth after only one win in six encounters. Not pretty much in APOEL’s taste, but however, Georgian manager Temur Ketsbaia remained their coach until April 2016 when he was sacked after the Cypriot Cyp semi-final defeat by Apollon Limassol (on penalties). Although APOEL was leading in the Cypriot First Division only four rounds till the end. However, Ketsbaia was the second sacked coach by chairmen after Portuguese coach Domingos Paciência, who was fired as a result of the unsuccessful Champions League qualifiers and the playoff against FC Astana. In a fact Temur Ketsbaia had similar destiny as of German coach Thorsten Fink, who was appointed at “GSP Stadium” in January 2015 but he was sacked only few months after, as a result of another defeat by Apollon Limassol, although APOEL led with two points, two rounds until end of the season.
This shows how quickly APOEL’s chairman Prodromos Petrides changes its mind and new Danish coach Thomas Christiansen should be aware with that.
Christiansen, who had games for Spanish national football team as a player, was previously coach of AEK Larnaca and under his leadership “The Green-yellows” finished on second position in Cypriot First Division last year.
UEFA Champions League: TNS vs APOEL – Squads and betting tip
APOEL Nicosia is surely team with bigger experience and more quality in the squad and everything different than a win will be huge surprise for us. It’s true that Cypriot teams are not the most offensive minded but APOEL have won in only one of their last 15 Champions League away rounds, but most of them were against top quality clubs and teams like Maribor, Wisla Krakow, Vardar Skopje, HJK Helsinki, Aalborg and Astana were their most easiest opponents in the last years. However, last season APOEL has ended the negative streak and they won over Danish champions back then, FC Midtjylland, before losing from Astana.
One year later it’s hardly for us to find parallels between most of the above mentioned clubs and team of TNS, which is mostly based on British players. Number 22, Englishman Scott Quigley, will be the biggest threat for APOEL’s defense as he scored in both games vs Tre Penne, but this time we expect game from completely different matter.
Thus we recommend betting on the away team – APOEL Nicosia is team with more quality, bigger squad depth and we doubt that The New Saints are capable to shine here, despite all strong performances of Wales national team at the UEFA Euro 2016 finals and the parallel victory of TNS over club from San Marino.
Referee: Hugo Miguel from Portugal.
Venue: “Park Hall”, Oswestry.
Possible starting squads of The New Saints and APOEL
The New Saints: Paul Harrison – Simon Spender, Conell Rawlinson, Phil Baker, Chris Marriott – Jon Routledge – Jamie Mullan, Ryan Brobbel, Aeron Edwards, Adrian Cieslewicz – Scott Quigley. (4-1-4-1)
APOEL Nicosia: Urko Pardo – Zhivko Milanov, Carlão, Iñaki Astiz, Nektarios Alexandrou – Nuno Morais, Vinicius – Georgios Efrem, Renan Bressan, Tomás De Vincenti – Pieros Sotiriou. (4-2-3-1)