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APOEL zero in on Zenit opener

APOEL FC begin their second UEFA Champions League campaign by welcoming FC Zenit St Petersburg with the Cypriot side unbeaten in seven European home games.

APOEL celebrate a goal in qualifying
APOEL celebrate a goal in qualifying ©AFP

APOEL FC begin their second UEFA Champions League group stage campaign by taking on Russian champions FC Zenit St Petersburg in Group G and the Cypriot side defending a seven-match unbeaten home run in Europe.

Previous meetings
• The sides have never met in UEFA competition. APOEL are taking on Russian opposition for the first time and this will be Zenit's first fixture against a Cypriot side.

• Before last season clubs from the two countries had never met, but Russian and Cypriot sides played in two UEFA Europa League ties in 2010/11; FC Sibir Novosibirsk eliminated Apollon Limassol FC on away goals in the third qualifying round, and PFC CSKA Moskva beat Anorthosis Famagusta FC 6-1 on aggregate in the play-offs. The two games where the Cypriot side were at home ended in a 2-1 win for Apollon and a 2-1 defeat for Anorthosis.

Match background
• Cyprus is enjoying its most successful season to date in UEFA competition; APOEL have reached the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second time while AEK Larnaca FC have become the first side from the island to reach the group stage of the UEFA Europa League.

• Ivan Jovanović's APOEL are unbeaten in seven European home games – four wins and three draws – since a 1-0 defeat by FC Porto in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• APOEL did not win a home game in that first UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, going down 1-0 against Chelsea FC and Porto and drawing 1-1 with Club Atlético de Madrid. They also drew 0-0 at Atlético and 2-2 at Chelsea, losing 2-1 in Porto.

• Luciano Spalletti's Zenit have lost their last two European away games, in the knockout phase of last season's UEFA Europa League, but won all three of their fixtures on their travels in the group stage of the same competition.

• The Russian team are also in their second group stage campaign; in 2008/09 they recorded a win and two defeats away from home. That 2-0 win against FC BATE Borisov remains one of only two successes in their seven European Cup away games; their overall record is W2 D1 L4.

Team ties
• APOEL's Sanel Jahić played against Zenit in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage, his AEK Athens FC side losing 4-2 and 3-0.

• Nektarios Alexandrou scored as Greece's Larissa FC lost 3-2 to Zenit in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup group stage.

• Aílton scored in FC København's 2-0 friendly win against Zenit on 28 June 2008.

• William Boaventura played in two 2-0 defeats by Zenit while on loan at FC Kuban Krasnodar from FC Metalurh Donetsk in 2009.

• Zenit's Portuguese internationals Danny and Bruno Alves featured in a 4-4 UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying draw against Cyprus in Guimaraes on 12 October 2010, with APOEL's Marios Elia, Constantinos Charalambides, Marinos Satsias and Savvas Poursaitides on the opposite side.

• Danny was a late substitute as Portugal won 4-0 in Cyprus on 2 September, scoring the visitors' final goal two minutes into added time. Bruno Alves played 90 minutes against a Cyprus team including Poursaitides and Charalambides – replaced by APOEL club-mate Nektarios Alexandrou just past the hour – while Athos Solomou and Tasos Kissas were unused substitutes.

• Ivan Trickovski came up against Zenit's Aleksandr Anyukov, Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov and Vladimir Bystrov when the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia lost 1-0 to Russia in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier on 12 October 2010.

• Trickovski was also in the FYROM team that lost 1-0 in Russia on 2 September, Anyukov, Shirokov, Denisov and Zyryano again featuring. Zenit's Vyacheslav Malafeev and Aleksandr Kerzhakov both came into the home team for the game in Moscow.

• Danny and APOEL defender Nuno Morais were team-mates at CS Marítimo and with the Portugal Under-21 side.

• Bruno Alves was Porto captain in 2009/10 when they played APOEL in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Zenit striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov faced APOEL captain Satsias as Russia met Cyprus in a friendly on 12 February 2003 in Limassol. Russia won 1-0.

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