The GSP stadium is set to
be rocked to its foundations by 20,000 frenzied APOEL Nicosia
fans on Wednesday when the Cypriot side bid to extend their
Champions League dream beyond the last 16 by overturning a 1-0
first-leg defeat by Olympique Lyon.
Unfancied APOEL caused the surprise of the group stage by
topping a quartet also featuring Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk and
Zenit St Petersburg and the club's expectant fans believe a team
made up mainly of Brazilian and Portuguese journeymen can cause
a Cypriot sporting stir only previously achieved by tennis
player Marcos Baghdatis.
"This is what the Greek spirit can do when it's healthy,"
supporter Stefan Menelaou said.
"For me personally, it is pride and satisfaction that the
Greek spirit still lives even in a team full of Brazilians,
Portuguese and god knows how many different nationalities."
Lyon laboured to a first-leg victory in France with a
second-half goal from Alexandre Lacazette and APOEL were strong
at home in the group stage, beating both Porto and Zenit.
"It is something unprecedented for fans, not only those of
APOEL," another fan, Panayiotis Hadjiapostolou, added. "Cypriot
fans have never experienced such a thing before."
For the first time in some weeks, coach Ivan Jovanovic has a
fully fit squad at his disposal and spirits are high after two
league wins revived title hopes for APOEL who sit third in their
"We will face Olympique with our morale high. We will get
our chances and we are going to chase them until the end," said
Lyon geared up for the return leg in the worst possible way,
losing 2-0 at strugglers Nancy in Ligue 1 as their hopes of
playing in the Champions League next season took another blow on
It was Lyon's third defeat in their last four league games.
"It's a big disappointment but... we need to get back on
track mentally and not listen to all the negative comments,"
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas told reporters.
"But the team usually play well in decisive matches."
Lyon will be without playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, who has been
ruled out with a groin injury but has barely been playing lately
after his form nosedived this season.
Coach Remi Garde, however, is expect to welcome back centre-back Dejan Lovren, although the Croat is unlikely to start the
APOEL Nicosia: 22-Dionysis Chiotis; 7-Savvas Poursaitides,
98-William Boaventura, 3-Paulo Jorge, 6-Marcello Oliveria,
31-Helder Sousa; 26-Nuno Morais, 10-Constantinos Charalambidis,
21-Gustavo Manduca, 81-Marcinhio; 11-Ivan Trickovski.
Olympique Lyon: 1-Hugo Lloris; 13-Anthony Reveillere,
3-Cris, 4-Bakary Kone, 20-Aly Cissokho; 21-Maxime Gonalons,
6-Kim Kallstrom, 11-Michel Bastos, 19-Jimmy Briand; 18-Bafetimbi
Gomis, 9-Lisandro Lopez.
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