APOEL will take on PAS Giannina in a friendly on Tuesday night as Thomas Christiansen continues to fine tune his side ahead of their opening Champions League second qualifying round tie against either TNS of Wales or San Marino’s Tre Penne.
The Cypriot champions are still on the lookout for a striker with the Danish-Spanish boss recently vetoing a move for Swedish forward Mathias Ranegie and will most probably start the game with Pieros Sotiriou again.
The friendly will take place at 8pm at the Dasaki Stadium in Achna and will be televised live on Cytavision Sports 3.
Christiansen has called on his side to make their ‘voices heard in Europe’ as they prepare for their opening Champions League game next month.
The former AEK boss – who took over from Temur Ketsbaia several months ago – had been in Poland for pre-season with his side and must now quickly regroup his team for their opening game in the second qualifying round of the Champions League against either TNS or Tre Penne.
The first leg in Wales between the two sides ended in a narrow 2-1 win for TNS with the second leg taking place later on Tuesday.
APOEL, who this season clinched a record 25th league title ahead of Christiansen’s former club AEK, are looking to reach the Champions League group stages for the fourth time, having previously reached the groups of Europe’s premier club competition in 2009, 2011 and 2014.
Speaking recently about the task ahead in Europe, Christiansen said, “It is certainly a challenge that I am looking forward to. APOEL are the champions and so the aim is for that success to continue. But at the same time, we must make our voices heard in Europe too. We need to get into the group stages in Europe. We just need to see if it will be in the Europa League or Champions League.”
“Two years ago, APOEL were playing against Barcelona, PSG and Ajax in the Champions League and the big target is to return to the competition and experiences some new wonderful experiences.”
“APOEL is a great club – the biggest in Cyprus – and it boasts many league titles and the biggest budget. The facilities are also the best. That was all because of its previous successes in Europe which is why we must continue that tradition.”
APOEL’s finest moment in Europe came in the 2011-2012 season when they made history by reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Since then, the onus has been on the Cypriot champions to keep on reaching the group stage.
The Nicosia club dropped into the Europa League groups last season after losing to Astana 2-1 on aggregate in the Champions League playoffs – something that also led to the sack of boss Domingos Pacienca.
With Paulo Sergio having suffered a similar fate the year before, Christiansen is aware of the consequences of not having European success.
“The pressure is greater at APOEL but if you want to succeed in this business then you need to learn to handle the pressure.”