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Christiansen: APOEL a strong side

AEK Larnaca boss Thomas Christiansen says former club Barcelona should not expect a walk-over against APOEL, who they meet tonight in their opening Group F clash at the Nou Camp.
Former Spanish forward Christiansen had been on the books at Barcelona but never played for the senior side and later went on to play for Osasuna, Sporrting Gijon and then Greek side Panionios, Danish outfits Herfolge as well as Bochum and Hannover in the Bundesliga.
“They are a strong side and, I believe, the best team in Cyprus both on an individual and team level,” he told Barcelona’s official website. “They are at their most dangerous on the attack and have some class players like [Tomas] de Vincenti, [Stathis] Aloneftis and [Gustavo] Manduca – the latter of which scored twice against us recently in the league. Another player worth mentioning is Vinicius who is the engine of the team and a very hard worker who also knows how to score goals.”
He added: “APOEL are especially strong when they are at home. The fans really get behind the team and most foreign teams visiting them never score many goals. You need to be brave to come to Cyprus and beat them.”
APOEL are the overwhelming underdogs in tonight’s big game (Sigma, 9.45pm) but coach Giorgos Donis warns it is dangerous to show too much respect to their Catalan opponents.
“This is a special experience for the team but I want it to be more than just an experience,” the former Panathinaikos and Blackburn winger told reporters in Barcelona yesterday. “They have respect for the best players in the world, but they mustn’t think any less of themselves.”
Donis is expected to play the same side that beat Aalborg 4-0 in the Champions League playoffs with the Greek coach contemplating switching left back Marios Antoniades with the more experienced Nektarios Alexandrou – who is natural left winger.
Another change may see Stathis Aloneftis replace Gustavo Manduca on the left side of attack with Tiago Gomes coming in for captain Constantinos Charalambides on the other side of attack.
New signing John Arne Riise is expected to miss out through lack of match fitness while fellow summer signing Rafik Djebbour is likely to start on the bench after struggling in APOEL’s 1-0 win over Ermis Aradippou on the weekend.
Probable line-up: Pardo; Mario Sergio, Carlao, Joao Guilherme, Antoniades; Vinicius, Nuno Morais; Manduca, De Vincenti, Gomes; Sheridan

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