Apollon v Marseille facts
Monday, 24 September 2018
Apollon are hoping to end a long-standing winless run in the group stage against last season's finalists Marseille.
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Apollon welcome last season’s UEFA Europa League runners-up to Cyprus hoping to end a long winless run in the competition's group stage that continued on matchday one with a 2-1 defeat at Lazio. Marseille, meanwhile, will be eager to bounce back immediately from their opening loss by the same score at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.
• This is the first time the clubs have come face to face in UEFA competition. Apollon have one win and one draw from their two games against French visitors, the latter coming last season, 1-1 against Lyon on matchday one of the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Marseille have less than fond memories of their only previous trip to Cyprus – a 0-3 loss in Nicosia against Apollon's local rivals AEL in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League – although they had already been eliminated from the competition despite an earlier 5-1 win in the reverse group fixture at the Stade Vélodrome.
• Domestic runners-up in league and cup last term, Apollon's sixth successive season in the UEFA Europa League kicked off in the first qualifying round, where they got the better of Lithuania's Stumbras before ousting Željezničar of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dinamo Brest of Belarus and, on away goals in the play-offs, Basel.
• Apollon have been in three previous UEFA Europa League group campaigns – a fourth is a record for a Cypriot club – but have never progressed beyond this stage, finishing third in their section in 2013/14 and fourth in both 2014/15 and 2017/18. Their record in the group stage is W2 D4 L13 with no wins in the last 12. Should they fail to beat Marseille, they will equal the longest run in the competition proper without a victory – currently held alone by Panathinaikos.
• The Limassol club have won all four home games in this European campaign, scoring ten goals and conceding just one. Indeed, they have been beaten just once in their last 14 UEFA encounters on Cypriot soil – 3-0 by Everton in last season’s final group game.
• Marseille finished fourth in last season's Ligue 1 to claim an immediate return to the UEFA Europa League.
• This is the Cote d'Azur club's fourth UEFA Europa League group stage participation. They failed to reach the knockout phase at the first attempt, in 2012/13, but managed to do so in 2015/16 and 2017/18, going all the way in the latter to the final in Lyon, where they lost 3-0 to Atlético Madrid. They were runners-up also in the 1998/99 and 2003/04 UEFA Cups.
• Marseille's run to last season's UEFA Europa League final featured nine away games, only one of which – against Athletic Club in the round of 16 – they won, with five ending in defeat. They last won away in the UEFA Europa League group stage on matchday six of the 2015/16 season – 4-2 at Sigma Olomouc.
Links and trivia
• Fotis Papoulis is one goal away from becoming Apollon's joint top scorer in Europe alongside Milenko Špoljarić (11).
• Apollon's Burkina Faso international defender Dylan Ouedraogo was born in Marseille. Other French-born players in the squad are Kévin Bru, David Faupala, Valentin Roberge and Richard Soumah.
• Sofronis Avgousti has coached home-town team Apollon since December 2016, when, as caretaker, he led the club to victory in each of his first eight league matches and to a successful defence of the Cypriot Cup. He has since steered them into back-to-back UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns. Capped 11 times by Cyprus, he previously served the Limassol club in three separate spells as a goalkeeper and was also on the books of AEK Larnaca, Aris Limassol and APOEL.
• Marseille coach since October 2016, Rudi Garcia started out as a midfielder at LOSC Lille, returning to coach the club between 2008 and 2013 and masterminding their Ligue 1/Coupe de France double in 2010/11. He subsequently spent three seasons in charge of Roma, leading the Giallorossi to back-to-back runners-up spots in Serie A. In 2017/18 he steered OM from the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League all the way to the final in Lyon, where they were defeated by Atlético Madrid.