Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Thanks to Caju’s goal APOEL defeated Astana (1-0) in the first leg of the Europa League play-off and moved one step closer to booking their place in the group stages. APOEL did well to keep a clean sheet in the 1-0 win over Astana, but preventing the Kazakhs from scoring at Astana Arena is easier said than done. The hosts failed to impress in the Champions League qualifiers and seeing that they are determined to defend their domestic titles, we do not believe that there is a big value in betting on Roman Grigorchuk’s troops. Astana are tough to beat at home, but seeing that APOEL want this win more, we are not tempted to put our money on the Kazakhs. A close match is on the horizon and there is every chance the two sides are going to share the spoils at Astana Arena on Thursday evening.
Highlighted Player (Dmitri Shomko):
Born in Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan on March 19, 1990 Dmitri Andreievich Shomko is a defender who plays for Astana. Shomko is a product of his home-town club Ekibastuzets, but he started his senior career at Batyr Ekibastuz.
As expected, the 182-cm tall footballer returned to his boyhood club and it has to be noted that he made nine appearances in the league for Ekibastuzets. Dmitri Shomko then moved to Irtysh Pavlodar and he played for the Kazak club from 2009 to 2014. In 2011 he was sent on loan to Astana and three years later he signed a permanent deal with the Blue and Yellows. His main position is left-back, but he is used as a left midfielder as well.
Over the years Shomko has established himself as a first-team regular at Kazakhstan national football team and he made his debut for the Hawks on February 2, 2011 in a 1-1 draw with Belarus. Shomko came as a substitute for Nurgaliev in the 85th minute of the match. He has 17 caps for the U21 team as well.
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.