FC Schalke 04, unbeaten in UEFA Europa League Group K, will rubberstamp their ticket to the round of 32 if they beat APOEL FC at the VELTINS Arena on Thursday evening (kick-off: 19:00CET/18:00GMT).
The Royal Blues, who beat the Cypriots 3-0 in Nicosia on Matchday 1, come into this one on the back of a poor run, however. For the first time since Andre Breitenreiter took charge in the summer they have lost back-to-back league games and were held to a 1-1 draw by Sparta Praha on Matchday 4 in this competition – part of an ongoing seven-match winless run.
- Schalke have never lost against Cypriot opposition (W3 D2), although both draws came on home turf.
- For their part, APOEL only have one win and one draw in 15 encounters with German sides: the draw came in Gelsenkirchen.
- The Nicosia-based outfit, however, have lost their last three European away games without scoring.
- The Royal Blues’ Dutch marksman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar needs one goal to take his overall European tally to 50.
- Huntelaar netted twice in his side’s 3-0 win in Nicosia in September.
- APOEL coach Temuri Ketsbaia is a legend of Georgian football: he scored 16 goals in 49 appearances for his country and took charge of APOEL this summer.
Schalke: Fährmann – Riether, Höwedes, Matip, Kolasinac – Geis, Goretzka – Sane, Meyer – Di Santo, Huntelaar
APOEL: Waterman - Mario Sergio, Astiz, Carlao, Antoniadis - Artymatas, Nuno Morais, Vinicius - Stilic, Piatkowski, Vander