APOEL V Real Madrid: Champions League Team News, Preview, Predicted Lineups

Peter Webster@@petercwebsterContributor IIIMarch 26, 2012

APOEL V Real Madrid: Champions League Team News, Preview, Predicted Lineups

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    APOEL v Real Madrid is one of the big games in this weeks UEFA Champions League quarterfinal roundup.

    Tuesday, March 27 marks the first game of the two-legged tie, and both teams will be looking to take an advantage into the second-leg.

    This article will look at team news, predicted lineups and what is likely to come in the game ahead.

APOEL Team News and Tournament Stats

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    APOEL have already made Champions League history by being the first ever Cypriot side to reach the quarterfinal stage. The team achieved this by beating French side Lyon on penalties following a 1-1 draw over the two legs of their round 16 tie.

    APOEL are the lowest goalscorers left in this season's competition and have only managed seven strikes all tournament so far.

    One of APOEL's main strikers Ivan Trickovski has now gone 15 games in all competitions without managing a goal—something coach Ivan Jovanovic will be rectified sooner rather than later.

    Gustavo Manduca is suspended for the first leg of the tie, and Marcelo Oliveira, Nektarios Alexandrou, Ivan Tričkovski, Marcinho, Esteban Solari and Paulo Jorge are all one yellow card away from receiving a ban.

    Panos Constantinou looks set to miss out after having surgery on his knee ligaments which were damaged in training.

    H/T to UEFA.com for those statistics.

Real Madrid Team News and Tournament Stats

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    Real Madrid currently have the best defensive record in the Champions League having only conceded four goals all competition thus far—unsurprising for a Jose Mourinho side.

    Xabi Alonso will miss the first leg of the tie due to a suspension, which could see Esteban Granero fill in for the Spanish international.

    Real Madrid have won 32 out of their last 38 matches in all competitions, and have scored in every one of those games.

    In matches for both club and country, Cristiano Ronaldo has notched 51 goals in 49 matches—a truly remarkable tally.

    Lassana Diarra—hamstring strain, Fabio Coentrao—groin injury, Jose Callejon—strained ankle ligaments, Ricardo Carvalho—thigh strain, and Angel Di Maria—thigh injury—are all set to miss the first leg with their respective fitness problems. 

    H/T to UEFA.com for those statistics.

APOEL Predicted Lineup

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    APOEL will not be looking forward to this clash against Real Madrid, but one thing they must do is keep a clean sheet if they hope to progress.

    That requirement could see them operate in a defensive mentality come March 27 and here is the starting 11 that could take to the field.

    Dionisios Chiotis (GK), Paulo Jorge, Marcelo Oliveira, Savvas Poursaitides, William Boaventura, Constantinos Charalambides, Gustavo Menduca, Nuno Morais, Sanel Jahic, Ivan Trickovski, and Ailton.

    Coach Ivan Jovanovic will have his work cut out with whatever lineup he names.

Real Madrid Predicted Lineup

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    Jose Mourinho was probably licking his lips when the draw for the Champions League quarterfinal was made, particularly with the second leg to be played at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Mourinho's starting lineup could look a little something like this:

    Iker Casillas (GK), Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa, Mesut Ozil, Esteban Granero, Kaka, Sami Khedira, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema.

    Real Madrid has an abundance of talent that will be sitting the game out through injury, leaving Jose Mourinho with restricted options for the first leg of the tie.

Prediction

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    APOEL's achievement of being the first Cypriot side in the Champions League quarterfinals is not something to be scoffed at.

    However, Jose Mourinho's side are probably facing the weakest side left in the competition, and that is something that cannot be ignored.

    Real Madrid's tight defence versus APOEL's struggling strike force suggests that Iker Casillas may not be too busy in this first round tie, and I can only see the result going Real Madrid's way.

    Any win for Real Madrid would see APOEL having to go for broke at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, and that would be disastrous for the cup minnows.

    Prediction for this one is APOEL 0-3 Real Madrid.

Afterthoughts

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    There is always room for shocks and surprises in football, and everybody loves an underdog.

    If APOEL could even escape the first leg of this tie without defeat, it would be a magnificent achievement for the team.

    Whoever progresses from the quarterfinals will face the winner of Marseille and Bayern Munich, meaning a Real Madrid vs Barcelona final is still very much on the cards.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen.

    Thanks for reading and be sure to check out FC Barcelona: 10 Big-Name Stars That Could Join Or Leave Barca In The Summer.

    On Twitter? Follow me @petercwebster where I post all my B/R content.