Nicosia - Eintracht Frankfurt will be aiming to build on their excellent start on the UEFA Europa League group stages when they travel to Apoel FC on Matchday 2 this Thursday (kick-off 21.05 CET).
The Eagles made a triumphant return to the European stage by brushing aside FC Girondins de Bordeaux, and Armin Veh’s men know that victory in the Cypriot capital will put them a step closer to the knockout rounds.
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.
Alexander Meier netted three goals in qualifying against Qarabag Agdam, but he was unavailable for the win over Bordeaux, which allowed summer signing Vaclav Kadlec to take up the goalscoring mantle. Marco Russ, who has hit the target twice in his last two games, Tranquillo Barnetta, on loan from FC Schalke 04, and Japan international
Takashi Inui have also been in excellent form to compensate for the absence of injured club captain Pirmin Schwegler.
With their added depth, then, Frankfurt will be considered favourites to win, but in his pre-match press conference, Veh warned against using the tag. “I don’t like using that word," the coach said. "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.”
Indeed, it shouldn’t be forgotten that as the most successful team in Cypriot history, Apoel are regulars in European competition and went as far as the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2011/12, defeating the likes of Olympique Lyonnais along the way.
Apoel: Urko - Mario Sergio, Joao Guilherme, Borda, Helder Cabral - Nuno Morais, Marcelo Oliveira, Vinicius - Charalambidis, Aloneftis - Isma
Frankfurt: Trapp - Jung, Zambrano, Anderson, Ozcipka - Russ, Rode, Flum - Barnetta - Inui, Kadlec