Real Madrid will have been licking their lips with delight when the draw for the Champions’ League quarter-final was announced two weeks ago. A tie against competition minnows, APOEL leaves them with a great opportunity to make it to the semi-final.
But the modern day galacticos should not expect their opponents to lie down and be beaten easily, despite being the first Cypriot side to make it to the knock out stages of the competition.
The Nicosia based outfit have already sprung a few surprises in this year’s Champions’ League, none more so than their shock two-legged defeat of French giants, Lyon in the previous round. They believe they can go all the way.
Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, however, have possibly the grandest aspirations to winning the competition this year, and will be hoping to mark the tenth anniversary of their last European triumph with glory this year.
For most clubs, a decade without winning the Champions’ League carries no shame at all, but Real Madrid are no ordinary club. They are the most successful side in European football ever, having won it nine times already.
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Since dumping CSKA Moscow out of the competition in the last round, the Spanish giants have suffered from something of a hangover, drawing two league games that they really ought to have won against Malaga and Villarreal.
But they got back on track on Saturday, as they recorded a thumping 5-1 win over Real Sociadad to remind APOEL what they will be coming up against. Avoiding complacency will be the key.
APOEL’s domestic form has not been quite as they would have liked it, though. Despite having recently enjoyed a run of four consecutive wins in the league, they drew 0-0 at home to local rivals Omonia Nicosia at the weekend and now find themselves in third place in the Cypriot first division table, four points adrift of AEL Limassol.
Madrid will be favourites to win this one, but APOEL will hope that home advantage gives them the edge.