APOEL v Athletic Club background
Friday, February 17, 2017
APOEL host Athletic Club in the second leg of their round of 32 tie having never beaten a Spanish side in 15 attempts, a record that must change if they are to progress.
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Given hope by Yannis Gianniotas's late goal in Bilbao, APOEL will fancy their chances of recording their first victory against a Spanish team when Athletic Club travel to Cyprus in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
• Gianniotas's 89th-minute strike at the Estadio de San Mamés left APOEL, who took the lead through George Efrem, needing to overturn a 3-2 deficit in the second leg.
• The clubs met for the first time in the first leg.
• APOEL are yet to win in 15 encounters with Spanish opposition (W0 D5 L10 – D4 L3 at home).
• In their only previous tie against a Cypriot side, Athletic (featuring current coach Ernesto Valverde as a player) lost 2-0 away to Anorthosis Famagusta in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup first round but rallied to win the return leg 3-0 as their visitors ended the game with nine men.
• APOEL are unbeaten in six European home games this season (W5 D1). They set a new club (and national) record by accruing 12 points in this season's group stage; their previous best was nine, collected in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League.
• Athletic are without a win in three European away games (D1 L2).
• UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists in 2011/12, APOEL have made it to the spring phase of the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League for the first time.
• Losing finalists in this competition in 1977 and 2012, Athletic defeated Marseille in last season's round of 32, eventually succumbing to eventual winners Sevilla on penalties in the quarter-finals.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Bilbao to Nicosia is around 3,200km.
• Athletic's Aritz Aduriz is second, one behind eight-goal Edin Džeko, in the 2016/17 scorers' chart. Aduriz became the UEFA Europa League's third top marksman, behind Radamel Falcao and Óscar Cardozo, when he struck his 18th competition goal in the first leg against APOEL.
• Aduriz was also the leading scorer in last season's edition with ten, breaking Alan Shearer's record to become the oldest top marksman in any edition of the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League – he was aged 35 years and 97 days on the day of the final.
• Aduriz is now seven clear of Fernando Llorente as Athletic's all-time European top scorer, with 23 goals.
• APOEL boast Spanish talent in the form of goalkeeper Urko Pardo, defenders Roberto Lago and Iñaki Astiz and midfielder Andrea Orlandi.
• Pardo played under Athletic boss Ernesto Valverde at Olympiacos (2010–11).
• APOEL's Danish-born coach Thomas Christiansen was once a trainee at Barcelona, playing in their 1992 UEFA Super Cup success, and also scored once in two appearances for Spain. He joined APOEL this summer after two promising seasons as AEK Larnaca boss.
• Valverde took charge of Athletic for a second time in June 2013, having led his old club from 2003 to 2005. The former forward later steered Espanyol to the 2007 UEFA Cup final, landed three Greek titles with Olympiacos and coached Villarreal and Valencia.
• APOEL won their only previous UEFA penalty shoot-out:
W 4-3 H v Lyon (2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16)
• Athletic have lost both of their two previous UEFA competition penalty shoot-outs:
L 5-3 H CFR Cluj (2005 Intertoto Cup second round)
L 5-4 A Sevilla (2015/16 UEFA Europa League quarter-final)
L 5-3 H v CFR Cluj (2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup second round)