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Dublin: 17 °C Tuesday 30 September, 2014

Champions League preview: APOEL attempt to shock Real

The two sides are both hoping to secure a coveted place in the semi-finals of the Europe’s biggest club competition, with Madrid odds-on favourites to progress.

Real Madrid train ahead of their game tonight
Real Madrid train ahead of their game tonight

APOEL v Real Madrid

REAL MADRID HAVE a huge chance to qualify for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals when they travel to Cyprus to play APOEL on Tuesday.

Madrid have seemingly drawn the easiest quarter-final opponent in the Champions League and are considered huge favourites ahead of Tuesday’s first leg in Nicosia.

The La Liga leaders are the most successful club in the history of the Champions League and, the competition’s predecessor, the European Cup, having been crowned champions nine times.

Madrid’s manager Jose Mourinho will be wary, however, of complacency, which has seemingly been an issue for his star-studded squad over the past couple of weeks.

Since the club from Spain’s capital beat CSKA Moscow to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, they have been held to surprising draws in two of their three subsequent matches.

Madrid conceded late goals against Malaga and Villarreal in 1-1 draws last week before getting back on track with a 5-1 thumping of Real Sociadad on Saturday.

But if Mourinho’s side slackens off on Tuesday they could be in for a rude shock.

APOEL are the first Cypriot club to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Their success in this season’s Champions League has been built on tight defence and good home form, with five wins from seven games in their own stadium.

In their round of 16 match-up, APOEL managed only one shot on goal in their 1-0 away leg defeat against Olympic Lyon as they focused on restricting the French side.

The Cypriots increased that statistic to three in the home leg as they beat Lyon 1-0 on the night and then 4-3 on penalties to reach the quarter-final stage.

While Madrid have won seven of their eight Champions League games this season, APOEL have shown they can compete against Europe’s big clubs having beaten Lyon, FC Porto and Zenit St Petersburg in their run to the quarter-finals.

APOEL head into Tuesday’s game in third position in their local competition. They drew 0-0 with local rivals Omonia Nicosia on Saturday.

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