FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu warned his side to underestimate APOEL FC at their peril ahead of Wednesday's Group G meeting. As the Ukrainian title holders opened their UEFA Champions League campaign with a 2-1 loss at FC Porto, APOEL shocked FC Zenit St Petersburg and Lucescu was impressed by a side whose style mirrors his own.
Coach Mircea Lucescu
Our opponents come from Cyprus, but we will be up against a lot of Brazilian and Portuguese players. You have to remember that, in qualifying, APOEL defeated Slovan Bratislava, who in turn eliminated AS Roma in the Europa League. This is a well-organised team with an excellent coach. Their playing style that is quite like ours. APOEL like to control the ball, as they have a lot of experienced and very skilful players.
We cannot repeat the mistakes Zenit made [in losing 2-1 at APOEL on matchday one].
I have studied APOEL's games and I was impressed. I have done my best to explain to my players how strong they are.
Saturday: FC Dynamo Kyiv 0-0 Shakhtar
Rybka; Srna, Rakitskiy, Chygrynskiy, Shevchuk; Hübschman, Mkhitaryan, Eduardo (Douglas Costa 58), Alex Teixeira, Willian; Luiz Adriano (Seleznyov 82)
• Shakhtar halted a run of five successive league defeats away by Dynamo to remain unbeaten 11 games into the domestic season.
Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Yaroslav Rakitskiy are suspended after being sent off on matchday one so Lucescu will choose from Olexandr Chyzhov, Serhiy Kryvtsov and Olexandr Kucher at centre-back. He has ruled out a return for the unfit Fernandinho.
Coach Ivan Jovanovič
We are underdogs in this group so our main goal is to give a good account of ourselves as we want to build the reputation of our team, which is strong enough to compete in the Champions League. That's also what I told my players before the Zenit match. We will try to play as well as we can, but there are things beyond our control because our opponents are, in my opinion, among the best ten sides in Europe.
I like how Shakhtar play and in Mircea Lucescu they have an excellent coach who always respects his opponents, and that often brings his team success. Anyway, we will try to prove that we deserve to play in this tournament. We have made important strides in our development and achieved a historic victory against Zenit – but we still have five games ahead.
Saturday:APOEL 1-0 Aris Limassol FC (Boaventura 86)
Chiotis; Paulo Jorge, Kaká (Morais 61), Boaventura, Poursaitides; Jahić, Pinto, Marcinho (Solari 79), Manduca, Tričkovski; Ailton (Charalambides 71)
• William Boaventura scored his first goal of the season as APOEL claimed their fourth successive win in all competitions to extend their unbeaten run to six games.
Tijani Belaid is still getting up to fitness after joining from Hull City AFC.
All but two of the 22 goals APOEL have scored this season in all competitions have come after half-time.
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