Olympique Lyon chiefs were probably delighted to be drawn alongside APOEL, considering the quality of other first-placed sides, but les Gones cannot afford to underestimate the Cypriot side, not after everything they’ve achieved this season.
The French giants only made it to Champions League knockout rounds thanks to the 7-1 victory over Dinamo in the final group game and even though there was some foul play suspected, Remi Garde’s side have been given a chance to fight for a place in the quarter-finals.
Lyon reached the final stages of both Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue thanks to extra time victories over Lorient and Bordeaux, but the team suffered a big blow to their Champions League hopes as they lost their Ligue 1 game to Caen at the weekend.
Les Gones will have to show some improvement in order to create an advantage before the return leg with APOEL, but odds of 1.45 (9/20) offered by 188BET on home win are definitely not worth taking.
Youngster Samuel Umtiti will continue to deputize for injured Dejan Lovren, whereas Kim Kallstrom should return after he was rested against Caen. John Mensah and Sidy Kone could be in contention after returning from Africa Cup of Nations.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Lloris – Reveillere, Kone, Umtiti, Cissokho – Briand, Kallstrom, Gonalons, Bastos – Lopez, Gomis.
In spite of being considered the weakest side in the group, APOEL did brilliantly to win the first place in front of sides like Zenit, Porto and Shakhtar and that speaks volumes about the quality of Ivan Jovanovic’s side.
The Cypriot side won two of the three home games in their group and managed to bring a point from every one of their three away games, so odds of 4.50 (7/2) offered on draw by BetVictor do look tempting.
APOEL chiefs did well to keep hold of their star players in the January transfer window, while adding experienced Helder Sousa and Koke to the side, which proves they take the Lyon tie very seriously.
Defender Marcelo Oliveira misses out through injury, but Paulo Jorge has recovered from injury and he will be in contention.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Chiotis – Poursaitidis, Kaka, Morais, Sousa – Alexandrou, Pinto, Marcinho – Charalambides – Trickovski, Ailton.