Preview: APOEL v Ajax

Having impressed against FC Barcelona on matchday one, APOEL FC are ready to go again at home to AFC Ajax though coach Giorgos Donis says it will be a very different game.

Giorgos Donis had plenty to smile about at Camp Nou
Giorgos Donis had plenty to smile about at Camp Nou ©AFP/Getty Images

Giorgos Donis says APOEL can expect a different game to the one against FC Barcelona
The APOEL coach wants his team to press Ajax and have "more possession"
Ajax are seven away matches without a win in the UEFA Champions League
Visiting midfielder Lasse Schöne faces a late fitness test on a groin injury
Ajax boss Frank de Boer singles out APOEL forward Cillian Sheridan

Possible lineups
APOEL: Pardo; Mário Sérgio, Carlão, João Guilherme, Antoniades; Morais, Vinicius; Tiago Gomes, De Vincenti, Aloneftis; Sheridan.
Out: Alexandrou (thigh), Papazoglou (abdominal muscle strain)

Ajax: Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Boilesen; Klaassen, Viergever, Zimling; El Ghazi, Sigthórsson, Schöne/Andersen.
Out: Fischer (hamstring), Murić (ankle)
Doubtful: Schöne (groin)

Giorgos Donis, APOEL coach
After one big match, Barcelona away, we have another: our first home game. We knew from day one that our chances would be limited in this group, but to increase them and to have hope we need to get some points at home. We know we have to face the Dutch champions, a massive team. We know their philosophy is the same as ours, even though they constantly change their squad. It is an attacking philosophy.

We also need to play well with the ball. This game demands more things from our team than against Barcelona. Against Barcelona we were always behind the ball. We had to play well in our half, which we did almost perfectly. The demands tomorrow will be greater in all aspects because we don't want to give them possession.

We have to be realistic. Had we said before the Barcelona game that we would be seeking 50–50 possession, then we would not have been realistic in our approach. And to say we will have more than 35% possession in our home game against Barcelona would also be unrealistic. Although Ajax are a great team, they are no Barcelona. We want more possession in this game, but possession doesn't always guarantee a victory. Tomorrow we must press in all areas of the pitch.

Mind games are always part of coaching players. It is difficult to keep a balance when you have just played Barcelona at Camp Nou and then suddenly you have to play a local team like Ayia Napa. Footballer are not robots – you cannot just press a button and put them in the right mindset. Some fans may underestimate the level of difficulty in our domestic league.

Ajax train in Cyprus on Monday
Ajax train in Cyprus on Monday©AFP/Getty Images

Frank de Boer, Ajax coach
It will be a tough match. APOEL have good players who play good football and they also have experience because the average age of the team is 28, with many different nationalities. We all saw them against Barcelona and how good they were. We know they have a fanatical following and the fans are close to the pitch. My players are young but know what to expect and we are confident we can handle whatever is thrown at us.

My players have Champions League experience even if they are still quite young. They are prone to making more mistakes than other more experienced players, but they still have experience playing against the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid. We have prepared well for this game and sometimes young players can be the difference when it comes to winning.

Hopefully we can end Ajax's disappointing away run very soon, if not tomorrow. But we also need to make sure we do not underestimate APOEL. They deserve to be in this competition. If they get the ball and play their own system then they can be a very organised and disciplined side. They have some quality Brazilian players and a good strong Irish striker [Cillian Sheridan] who gets lots of help from creative players around him.

Weekend results
APOEL 0-0 AEL Limassol FC
NAC Breda 2-5 Ajax (Perica 60 76; Van Rhijn 27, Sigthórsson 29 38 89, Veltman 65)

Form guide (all competitions)
APOEL: DWWLWW
Ajax: WWWDWL

Match facts
• Ajax's second biggest win, 10-0, in UEFA competition was against which Cypriot club? Find out in our extensive match background.

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