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APOEL blocking Wisła path to big stage

Published: Monday 8 August 2011, 21.45CET
Polish title holders Wisła Kraków hope to take the last step to a first appearance in the group stage but must first breach an APOEL FC defence who are yet to concede in Europe this term.
APOEL blocking Wisła path to big stage
Wisła's Maor Melikson celebrates scoring in the third qualifying round ©Cyfrasport
Published: Monday 8 August 2011, 21.45CET

APOEL blocking Wisła path to big stage

Polish title holders Wisła Kraków hope to take the last step to a first appearance in the group stage but must first breach an APOEL FC defence who are yet to concede in Europe this term.

Having never previously progressed beyond the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League Wisła Kraków hope to finally make their group-stage debut this season, but must first find a way past miserly APOEL FC.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition in what is also APOEL's first game against a Polish team.

• Wisła's only previous experience of Cypriot opposition came against AC Omonia in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, when they won 5-2 at home and drew 2-2 away.

• Maciej Żurawski, who scored twice in both legs, played for Omonia in  2009/10, helping them to the Cypriot title.

Match background
• Wisła, European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-finalists in 1978/79, have won all four of their games in Europe this season and have lost only once in their last nine continental home fixtures, 1-0 to Qarabağ FK in last term's third qualifying round first leg.

• APOEL are unbeaten in their last five European games since a 1-0 loss at Getafe CF in the first leg of last season's UEFA Europa League play-offs. They have not conceded a goal in four outings this season.

• That loss at Getafe is APOEL's only defeat in their last five European games on the road.

• Polish champions Wisła have yet to feature in the UEFA Champions League group stage, though they did appear in the UEFA Cup group stage in 2006/07.

• This is the seventh time Wisła have featured in UEFA Champions League qualifying. In each of their six previous campaigns they bowed out in the third qualifying round, when that was the final hurdle before the group stage, against some daunting opposition (FC Barcelona in 2001/02 and 2008/09, Real Madrid CF in 2004/05).

• This season's victories against Skonto FC (agg: 3-0) and PFC Litex Lovech (agg: 5-2) were the first time Wisła had won successive qualifying round games.

• APOEL made their only group-stage appearance in 2009/10, the season after Anorthosis Famagusta FC became the first Cypriot side to reach that stage of the UEFA Champions League.

• Under Ivan Jovanović, their coach since 2008, APOEL finished bottom of their section but twice held Club Atlético de Madrid and earned a 2-2 draw at Chelsea FC. They lost their other three games by one-goal margins.

• Prior to 2009/10 APOEL had featured in three qualifying campaigns. They made it from the first to the third qualifying round in 2002/03, but lost 4-2 on aggregate to AEK Athens FC. AC Sparta Praha eliminated them in the second qualifying round (agg: 3-4) in 2004/05, and BATE were too strong (agg: 0-5) in the first qualifying round in 2007/08.

• In 2009/10 they went from the second qualifying round to the group stage, beating EB/Streymur (agg: 5-0), FK Partizan (agg: 2-1) and, in the play-offs, FC København (agg: 3-2).

• This season APOEL passed through the second and third qualifying rounds without conceding a goal, beating KS Skënderbeu (agg: 6-0) and ŠK Slovan Bratislava (agg: 2-0). They are thus unbeaten in five UEFA Champions League qualifying ties.

Team ties
• Now at GKS Bełchatów, midfielder Kamil Kosowski played for Wisła from 1999-2003 and again in 2007, winning three Polish league titles. He then represented APOEL from 2008 to 2010 and was among the scorers as they beat FCK in the play-offs to reach the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage. Fellow Poles Marcin Żewłakow and Adrian Sikora also featured in APOEL's maiden group campaign.

• Another player to appear for both clubs was Bartłomiej Jamróz, who was at Wisla from 1992-94 and at APOEL in 2005/06.

• Other Polish players to represent APOEL are Wojciech Kowalczyk – who was the first in 2003/04 – and Andrzej Kryszałowicz and Jarosław Popiela.

• Former Poland coach Jerzy Engel had spells in charge of both sides. He oversaw Wisła's 5-4 aggregate loss to Panathinaikos FC in the third qualifying round in 2005/06, then took charge of APOEL, leading them to the Cypriot Cup that same season. APOEL's only other Polish coach was Jacek Gmoch, who had a spell with the Cypriot club from 1991 to 1993.

Last updated: 10/08/11 17.57CET

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