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Barcelona v APOEL background

Luis Enrique makes his European coaching debut as FC Barcelona host Cypriot title holders APOEL FC in their opening Group F game at the Camp Nou.

Luis Enrique won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona as a player
Luis Enrique won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona as a player ©AFP

The Luis Enrique era gets under way in earnest as FC Barcelona kick off their Group F campaign against APOEL FC.

Match background

• Luis Enrique won the 1996/97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona as a player, but this will be the first time he has coached the Blaugrana in European competition.

• Under Gerardo Martino, Barcelona finished second in the Liga in 2013/14 and reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, losing to eventual runners-up, Club Atlético de Madrid.

• Last season was the first time Barcelona had failed to reach the semi-finals or beyond since 2006/07.

• Barcelona have lost just one of their last 27 home UEFA Champions League matches – including four wins and a draw last term.

• They have faced Cypriot opposition twice before – both times in the first round of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. They beat Apollon Limassol FC in 1982/83 (8-0h, 1-1a) and AEK Larnaca FC in 1996/97 (2-0h, 0-0a), with Luis Enrique playing in the latter tie.

• APOEL are competing in the group stage for the third time, having reached the quarter-finals on their last appearance in 2011/12.

• For Giorgos Donis this is the first UEFA Champions League campaign as coach, but his team emerged unbeaten through the qualifying rounds, overcoming HJK Helsinki (2-2a, 2-0h) and Aalborg BK (1-1a, 4-0h).

• APOEL FC took just one point on their travels in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League and were eliminated after the group stage.

• APOEL's record in Spain is W0 D1 L5. That solitary draw came at Club Atlético de Madrid in their debut appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage in September 2009. Dionisios Chiotis, Constantinos Charalambides and Nuno Morais all appeared that night.

• That trio, together with Gustavo Manduca, Nektarios Alexandrou and Kaká, are survivors of the 2011/12 quarter-final defeat against Real Madrid CF (0-3h, 2-5a).

• Their only previous trip to Barcelona brought a 1-0 defeat at RCD Espanyol in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup first round.

Player links
• Luis Enrique was in the Spain side beaten 3-2 in Cyprus in a UEFA EURO 2000 qualifier in September 1998. He also appeared when Spain won the return fixture 8-0.

• John Arne Riise played against Luis Enrique for Liverpool FC in the 2001/02 second group stage. Luis Enrique's Barcelona won 3-1 at Anfield before a 0-0 home draw. Riise also hit the winner in a 2-1 success at the Camp Nou as Liverpool eliminated then holders Barcelona in the 2006/07 round of 16.

• Urko Pardo is a graduate of Barcelona's La Masia academy and played in their B team (2004/05).

• Tiago Gomes played for Hercules CF (2009–12) and won 2-0 at Barcelona in September 2010.

• Kaká (RC Deportivo La Coruña, 2013) has also played in Spanish football.

• Ivan Rakitić scored against APOEL on 16 September 2008 to help FC Schalke 04 to a 4-1 away win in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup first round (5-2 on aggregate). He played against Nuno Morais, Charalambides, Alexandrou and Chiotis in that tie.

• Marc-André ter Stegen's VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach took four points off AEL Limassol FC (0-0a, 2-0h) in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League.

Match facts


• Second-half substitute Neymar scored twice – his first two goals of the season – as FC Barcelona preserved the last remaining 100% record in the Liga with a 2-0 victory at home to Athletic Club on Saturday.

• A summer signing from Real Sociedad de Fútbol, Chile No1 Claudio Bravo has kept clean sheets in each of his first three Barcelona appearances.

• Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta, who both sat out the international break through injury, started on Saturday. Javier Mascherano went off with a knock just after half-time.

• Munir El Haddadi, the top scorer in the inaugural UEFA Youth League last season, marked his senior Barcelona debut with a goal as Luis Enrique began his reign with a 3-0 Liga win against Elche CF on 24 August.

• Sandro Ramírez, another academy graduate taking his Barcelona bow, struck the only goal in the victory at Villarreal CF a week later.

• Sergio Busquets scored his first international goal in 70 caps in Spain's 5-1 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying triumph over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

• El Haddadi made his Under-21 and senior international debuts for Spain against Hungary and FYROM respectively on 4 and 8 September.


• Nektarios Alexandrou was given special dispensation to miss Saturday's league game against Ermis Aradippou FC as he got married at a small ceremony on the Greek island of Mykonos.

• At home, APOEL were the strongest team in the Cypriot top flight last season but on their travels they ranked third, winning ten of their 18 matches and losing four.

• APOEL have never won away from home in the UEFA Champions League proper. They have lost three of those eight matches and recorded notable draws at Chelsea FC, Club Atlético de Madrid, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Porto and FC Zenit.

• HJK Helsinki were beaten 6-0 by Barcelona in a friendly three days after losing 2-0 to APOEL in their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg.

• Stathis Aloneftis, Constantinos Charalambides, George Efrem, Nektarios Alexandrou and Marios Antoniades all featured in Cyprus' shock 2-1 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying win away to Bosnia and Herzegovina last week.

• Efrem's father, Andreas, played for Apollon Limassol FC against Barcelona in an 8-0 defeat and 1-1 draw in the 1982/83 European Cup Winners' Cup first round.

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