Our match prediction:
APOEL and Astana, the two teams who participated in the Champions League qualifiers, face each other at NEO GSP in Nicosia in their Europa League opener. APOEL are high on confidence ahead of the visit of Astana as they crushed the likes of Ermis and Nea Salamis in previous two league games. The Cypriotes have been scoring goals for fun of late and they are widely expected to extend their winning run. Astana, on the other hand, failed to eliminate Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers, but they proved their worth in the Europa League play-offs against BATE Borisov. However, considering that the Kazakhstan side often struggle on the travels, we predict that the hosts are going to emerge triumphant in Thursday’s football match at NEO GSP. It has to be noted that APOEL recorded a thrilling 3-0 win over Rosenborg in front of home fans in the Champions League qualifiers.
Highligted Player (Georgios Efrem):
Born in Limassol, Cyprus on 5 July, 1989 Georgios Efrem played for his hometown club Apollon Limassol during his youth career, but in 2004 he joined Premier League club Arsenal at the age of 15. In 2007 he moved to Rangers, but he didn’t see any game action with the Gers at senior level. The pacey winger, who is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder as well, returned to Cyprus in 2009, signing a deal with Omonia. After scoring 25 goals in 134 league appearances for the club, the 171-cm-tall footballer joined fellow Cypriot outfit APOEL on 6 June, 2014. Efrem made his debut for the club against Helsinki on 30 July, 2014 in the Europa League qualifying match. It has to be noted that he was named the best player of the 2015/2016 Cypriot First Division campaign. The APOEL winger made his Cyprus debut on 3 March, 2010 in a goalless draw with Iceland. Four years later he scored his first ever hat-trick for the Cypriot national team in a 5-0 triumph over Andorra.
Highlighted Team (APOEL Nicosia):
APOEL are a Cypriot football club based in Nicosia. The Thrylos were founded on 8 November, 1926 and they won their first league trophy in 1932, defeating AEL Limassol 4-0 in the final. Over the years APOEL have established themselves as one of the best teams in Cyprus and they won their 25th domestic trophy in 2016. The Thrylos participated in the 2014/2015 Champions League group stages, but they failed to make life difficult for the likes of PSG, Ajax and Barcelona, picking up no more than one point from possible 18. APOEL share a great rivalry with Omonia and the meeting between two teams is well known as the Nicosia derby. A number of foreign footballers played for APOEL and it has to be noted that the likes of Daniel Florea, Dudu Biton, Marcos Tavares, Paul Okon, Dragisa Binic, Nenad Milosavljevic, Paulo Costa, Tiago Gomes, Alexandros Tziolis and Fernando Cavenaghi were all part of the team in the past. The colour of APOEL’s home kits is yellow. v