APOEL vs Olympique Lyon preview

March 6, 2012
By: Frank Beresford

Olympique Lyon go into this clash as favourites to go through having recorded a 1-0 victory in the first leg, but the French giants will have their work cut out for them at packed Neo GSP Stadium.

Everybody was surprised to see Cypriot minnows reach the Champions League group stage two years ago, but this team continue to prove that they deserve to be playing at such a high level.

Ivan Jovanovic’s side made it to the group stages this season by eliminating Skenderbeu Korce, Slovan Bratislava and Wisla Krakow, but the Cypriot champions were seen as major underdogs in the group that also contained European giants Porto, Shakhtar and Zenit.

Nevertheless, combining excellent attacking performances at home with rock-solid defensive showings on the travels, APOEL managed to win the first place in the group before being pitted against French giants Lyon.

They did well to record a narrow defeat in the first leg at Gerland and now Ivan Jovanovic’s men are set to revert to the attacking approach that has produced amazing results at their Neo GSP Stadium.

Backed by the vociferous support from the stands and facing out-of-form Lyon, APOEL look a good bet at odds of 3.10 (21/10) offered by William Hill.

Oliviera and Aldo Adorno have returned into action, whereas Ivan Trickovski is also back from a leg problem.

Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Chiotis – Poursaitidis, William, Kaka, Paulo Jorge – Charalambidis, Morais, Manduca, Solari – Ailton, Trickovski.

Olympique Lyon were on the verge of Champions League elimination until the controversial 7-1 victory in Zagreb and Remi Garde’s side have since shown little to prove they deserve to be fighting for the place in the final stages.

Les Gones are struggling for form at the moment, with the 1-0 triumph over APOEL their only victory in last five games, and there are no doubts they enter this match in low spirits.

Lyon slipped to 7th place in Ligue 1 as they were beaten by Nancy at the weekend and don’t think that happened because coach Garde rested some of his starters at Stade Marcel Picot as he did no such thing.

The inexperienced boss is expected to field the same side that started the Nancy game, and his men could struggle to match the passion and drive of their next opponents.

Yoann Gourcuff and John Mensah remain sidelined, but Dejan Lovren could return to the side after recovering from an Achilles injury.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Lloris – Reveillere, Cris, Kone, Cissokho – Gonalons, Kallstrom – Briand, Lopez, Bastos – Gomis.

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