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APOEL v Astana background

Astana need no reminding of their last encounter with APOEL as they return to Cyprus, having once beaten their Group B hosts to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Astana's Junior Kabananga
Astana's Junior Kabananga ©Dinara Baikadamova

Memories of the night Astana qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage at APOEL's expense will come flooding back as the Kazakh outfit visit Nicosia for the second time in 13 months.

Previous meetings
• This UEFA Europa League Group B match will be the clubs' third meeting, all of them since August 2015.

• Astana defeated APOEL 2-1 on aggregate in last season's UEFA Champions League play-offs, a 1-0 home victory preceding a 1-1 second-leg draw in Cyprus. The teams for that latter game, in which Nemanja Maksimović's 84th-minute goal for Astana proved decisive, were:

APOEL: Waterman, Carlão (Guilherme 83), De Vincenti, Leal, Makridis (Charalambides 55), Antoniades (Piątkowski 85), Štilić, Astiz, Morais, Sérgio, Vander.
Astana: Erić, Aničić, Maksimović, Zhukov (Beysebekov 89), Kéthévoama (Schetkin 90+2), Nuserbayev (Kabananga 68), Dzholchiyev, Ilić, Postnikov, Shomko, Cañas.

Form guide
• APOEL are unbeaten in three European home fixtures this season (W2 D1), having transferred to the group stage from the UEFA Champions League play-offs.

• APOEL have failed to make it to the round of 32 in both of their previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.

• Astana are making their UEFA Europa League group stage debut, having participated in the UEFA Champions League group stage last term.

• Astana are without a win in ten European away matches – D5 L5 – since a 3-0 success at AIK in UEFA Europa League qualifying in August 2014.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Astana to Nicosia is around 3,500km.

The coaches
• APOEL's Danish-born coach Thomas Christiansen was once a trainee at Barcelona, playing in their 1992 UEFA Super Cup success, and scored once in two games for Spain. He joined APOEL this summer after two promising seasons in Cyprus as AEK Larnaca boss.

• Former Bulgaria midfielder Stanimir Stoilov has won two league titles since coming to Kazakhstan in 2014, as well as leading Astana into last autumn's UEFA Champions League group stage – a phase he had earlier graced as a coach with Levski Sofia.