Eintracht Frankfurt take on APOEL FC in Nicosia on Thursday with the Group F lead in their sights, determined to reach the knockout rounds of the Europa League having already brushed aside FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
But the host Cyprus champions, who made it to the quarter finals of the UEFA Champion’s League two years ago, so not plan to give up without a fight.
Eintracht have responded well to concerns that their squad may not cope with the burden of three competitions. Although Frankfurt may have begun the league season slowly, with just two wins from seven games, they are in the last 16 of the DFB Cup and reminded everyone of their European aspirations by humbling the 2009 Ligue 1 champions Bordeaux a fortnight ago.
Coach Armin Veh knows that victory in the Cypriot capital will put his squad a step closer to the knockout rounds.
But he warned against being too sure as the favourites to win.
“We’ve watched their games and they’re a technically strong team. They’re also more experienced in Europe than we are, so it will be a very tough game.”
Gustavo Manduca, Christian da Silva and Mario Budimir are all expected to skip the Eintracht clash due to injuries.
Meanwhile, Limassol’s Apollon will look to regain ground after a disappointing start in Group J when they meet Polish outfit Legia in Warsaw.
“They are a great side just like the other teams in our group. Our group opponents play at another level, but we will try and compete just like in all our games,” said Apollon coach Christakis Christoforou, whose team will also face SS Lazio.
Apollon recorded a morale boosting 2-1 victory over Alki last weekend which helped them climb up to third in the league standings, a single point behind the leaders and their city rivals AEL.
The Polish side’s squad includes two familiar faces for Cypriot football fans in Helio Pinto and Dossa Junior. Pinto spent the 2005-2006 season on loan at Apollon prior to joining APOEL, while Portuguese-born Junior is an active Cypriot international and played for three teams in Cyprus, most recently AEL.
The match at the Pepsi Arena in Warsaw is scheduled to kick-off at 7pm CET, while APOEL take on Eintracht at 10.05pm local time.
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