UEFA Champions League – Tottenham-APOEL – Stakes high for APOEL at Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur FC have first place in Group H sewn up, but matchday six visitors APOEL FC will not be short of motivation as they bid to claim a UEFA Europa League spot for the spring.
• The London club – 3-0 winners in Cyprus on matchday two – hold a three-point cushion over second-placed Real Madrid CF, and will finish above the Spanish giants by virtue of their superior head-to-head record.
• At the other end of the table, APOEL are level with Borussia Dortmund on two points and, with both games between the sides having finished 1-1, it is all to play for. Dortmund finish at Madrid and in case both fixtures are drawn, Dortmund will be qualified due to superior goal difference in all matches. If both teams win or lose then the final ranking will depend on the number of goals scored and conceded in these last two games.
• Tottenham have reached the knockout rounds only once before, in 2010/11.
• Before beating Dortmund, Tottenham had won just one of their previous five European home fixtures. They took only three points from their three home group games in 2016/17, losing to AS Monaco FC (1-2) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen (0-1) before a 3-1 victory over PFC CSKA Moskva on matchday six.
• Harry Kane scored in both matches when Tottenham last played Cypriot opposition, in the shape of AEL Limassol FC in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League play-offs. Spurs won 2-1 in Larnaca, Kane getting an 80th-minute clincher, before a 3-0 success at White Hart Lane in which the striker opened the scoring.
• This is Tottenham’s third time in the group stage and a second foray in as many seasons – the first time they have managed consecutive European Cup campaigns.
• Twelve months ago Tottenham came third in their group and moved into the UEFA Europa League, where they fell 3-2 on aggregate to KAA Gent in the round of 32.
• The Cypriot outfit were beaten 6-0 by Madrid last time out – their heaviest European home defeat.
• APOEL’s only previous away game against Premier League opposition was a 2-2 draw at Chelsea FC in the 2009/10 group stage, APOEL substitute Nenad Mirosavljević scoring an 87th-minute equaliser. The match in Cyprus had finished 1-0 to the visitors.
• APOEL have lost six of their last nine European away fixtures. Moreover, they have never won away in 13 UEFA Champions League matches, group stage to final, though they did draw five of their first six; the draw in Dortmund on 1 November halted a six-game losing streak.
• APOEL have not won a match in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final, since beating Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 in their round of 16 second leg on 7 March 2012. Their subsequent record is D3 L10.
• The Nicosia club are in the group stage for a fourth time, having previously qualified in 2009/10, 2011/12 – when they went all the way from second qualifying round to quarter-finals, losing to Real Madrid – and 2014/15.
• Thwarted in the play-offs by FC København 12 months ago, APOEL went on to finish first in their UEFA Europa League group, subsequently ousting Athletic Club 4-3 on aggregate in the round of 32 before losing to Anderlecht 1-0 both home and away in the last 16.
Coach and player links
• Mauricio Pochettino faced APOEL in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup first round while playing for RCD Espanyol, the Spanish side winning 3-2 on aggregate (2-2 away, 1-0 home).
• Hugo Lloris was in the Lyon team knocked out by APOEL in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16, bowing out after a 4-3 penalty shoot-out defeat in Cyprus.
• Lorenzo Ebecilio was at AFC Ajax between 2010 and 2013, playing alongside Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
• Igor De Camargo played alongside Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Mousa Dembélé with Belgium.
• Vertonghen and Alderweireld were in the Belgium side that beat Cyprus 5-0 at home in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying, Giorgos Merkis and Antreas Makris appearing for the visitors. Makris, Vertonghen and Alderweireld also featured in Belgium’s 1-0 victory in Cyprus.
• Nektarios Alexandrou, George Efrem and substitute Makris were in the Cyprus team beaten 3-0 by Belgium in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying in September 2016; Vertonghen and Alderweireld played for Belgium.
• Serge Aurier was an unused sub as Paris Saint-Germain won 1-0 in both Cyprus and France against APOEL in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League group stage. Carlão, George Efrem, Vinicius, Nuno Morais, Nicholas Ioannou and Stathis Aloneftis figured for APOEL.
• Ben Davies helped Wales to a 1-0 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying win against Makris’s Cyprus in September 2015.
• Boy Waterman replaced Michel Vorm as a substitute for the Netherlands Under-21 side against England on 14 February 2004.
• Efrem is a product of the Arsenal academy.