Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Real Madrid vs Apoel Nicosia Match Preview, Team News & Possible Lineups + Other UCL Today's Fixtures

Real Madrid will start their UEFA defence at home where they will host APOEL.
In Group H, Real Madrid, bidding for a historic three-peat, will kick off the defence of their title when they play hosts to Cypriot champions APOEL Nicosia at Santiago Bernabeu tonight.

The hosts made history in June when they became the first side to defend their Champions League crown, two weeks after lifting the La Liga title.

Their form at the start of the 2017-18 season though, has been quite erratic, with two draws and a win leaving them four points behind bitter rivals Barcelona.

APOEL, on the other hand, won the Cypriot league last season, but had to go through three qualifying stages to progress to the group stage.

George Donis’ men come into the match on the back of a win in their opening match of the season, a comfortable 4-1 victory away at Nea Salamis.

TEAM NEWS:

Real Madrid - Karim Benzema misses out with a hamstring injury, but Cristiano Ronaldo is available as his extended ban only applies to Spanish domestic matches. Gareth Bale is likely to return in place of Lucas Vazquez, in a front three with Ronaldo and Marco Asensio.
 
Apoel Nicosia - Georgios Efrem is APOEL's only injury concern, with the remainder of the team likely to be similar to that which saw off Slavia Prague in the play-off round.

TEAM FORM:

Real Madrid - The Spanish giants started the season by beating Manchester United in the European Super Cup and the Barcelona home and away in the Spanish Super Cup. They are unbeaten in La Liga, but have drawn their two most recent games against Valencia and Levante, having won on the opening day at Deportivo.


Apoel Nicosia - The Cyprian side came right through the Champions League qualifiers, having started their campaign in the middle of July. They beat Slavia Prague to reach the group stages after a 2-0 home win and goalless draw away, but they lost the Cypriot Super Cup 2-1 to Apollon. Their first league game of the new season, on Saturday, ended in a 4-1 win away to Nea Salamis.

PREDICTED LINEUPS:

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Daniel Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Ronaldo, Bale

APOEL Nicosia (4-4-2): Waterman; Milanov, Rueda, Carlao, Lago; Sallai, Vinicius, Morais, Aloneftis; de Camargo, Ebecilio

KEY STATS:
  • Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last 15 home games in the UEFA Champions League, and have lost just one of their last 38 home games in the competition.
  • The only time the two teams met was in the season 2011/2012 of UEFA Champions League. They squared off in the quarter-finals, and Real Madrid won with a combined score of 8 – 2. At Santiago Bernabeu, the final result was 5 – 2.
  • Over their last two campaigns in the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid have won 11 of their 12 home games.
  • In contrast, APOEL have managed to win just two of their last 12 away games in Europe’s premier club competition (D3 L7).
  • In 21 previous participations in the UEFA Champions League, Madrid have never failed to progress to the last 16.
  • APOEL are in the group stage for a fourth time, having previously qualified in 2009/10, 2011/12 and 2014/15.
  • Ronaldo has more Champions League goals than anyone else
 PREDICTION:

Real 3-0 APOEL - This is the easiest fixture for the hosts and they are huge favourites for tonight's game. The European champions will expect nothing less than a big home win. Any other result would be a huge shock.

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TODAY'S UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FIXTURES IN FULL

GROUP E

19:45 - Liverpool VS Sevilla

19:45 - Maribor VS Spartak Moscow

GROUP F

19:45 - Feyenoord VS Manchester City

19:45 - Shakhtar Donetsk VS SSC Napoli

GROUP G

19:45 - FC Porto VS Besiktas

19:45 - RasenBallsport Leipzig VS Monaco

GROUP H

19:45 - Real Madrid VS APOEL Nicosia

19:45 - Tottenham Hotspur VS Borussia Dortmund

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