Europa League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- Apollon Limassol

Wed, Jul 24 2019

Ronan Finn and co. will he hoping to secure another famous win at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday evening Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

SHAMROCK ROVERS

Looking to secure another famous European result at Tallaght Stadium, Shamrock Rovers welcome Cypriots Apollon Limassol to Dublin on Thursday evening (kick-off is at 8pm).

The Hoops, helped in so small part by the individual brilliance of Jack Byrne, saw their way past Norwegian side SK Brann in the previous round, with Gary O’Neill’s late winner proving decisive in a thrilling Tallaght encounter.

However, a bigger test awaits Rovers in the next round when they face off against Apollon – as mentioned by Head Coach Stephen Bradley. 

“They’re a top team. They made the group stages last year and they’ve made it a number of times in the last few years,” Bradley told his club’s official media team.

“We know it’s going to be a difficult tie but it’s one that we’re looking forward to and one we believe we can win. It’s definitely a step up.

“Limassol are a better side than Brann. They’re a very good side and their pedigree shows that. We need to concentrate for 90 minutes. They have threats from all over the pitch, so we need to really focus for the whole game because they’re very dangerous.

“It’s over two legs so we need to make sure that when we go over to Cyprus we’re still there and can still win the tie.”

The Hoops boss also called on his club’s home support to help roar his side on after playing a key role during his side’s comeback win over Brann.

“The crowd against Brann was brilliant especially when we went a goal down. They got the players going again and hopefully they come out again in their numbers tomorrow night because we’re going to need them.

“We need the crowd with us for the 90 minutes. European nights in Tallaght are special and I’m sure tomorrow night will be no different. There’s top class opposition coming and hopefully we’ve a big support to help us go and get a result.”

Republic of Ireland under-21 international and former UCD winger Neil Farrugia is Rovers only confirmed absentee for the visit of the three-time Cypriot league champions.

APOLLON LIMASSOL

Apollon Limassol, fresh from their heroic 2018 Europa League exploits, will look to add Shamrock Rovers to their list of victims on the European stage when they make the trip to Tallaght Stadium on Thursday evening.

Apollon came through their first qualifier with a comfortable 6-0 aggregate win over Lithuanian outfit Kauno Zalgiris.

The Cypriots secured a 2-0 victory away from home in Lithuania before easily breezing past Kauno in the second leg at home by a comfortable four-nil win in Cyprus.

In-form striker Emilio Jose Zalaya scored a hat-trick in the second leg as defender Attila Szalai opened the scoring early on.

Cypriot international Ionnas Pittas was also in target in the first leg and having made his international debut in June against Scotland, Pittas is one to certainly watch out for.

Manager Sofronis Avgousti is a former Cypriot international, playing eleven times for his country and once against Ireland in 2009.

The Boys in Green secured a late win over Cyprus on that occasion, with Robbie Keane scoring a late 83rd minute for the then Giovanni Trappatoni managed side.

Midfielder Sasa Markovic is also no stranger to the Tallaght Stadium cauldron, having played against the Hoops in 2011 for Partizan Belgrade.

The travelling squad for Apollon is as follows; Joel Mall, Demetris Demetriou, Michalis Papastilyianou, Vahid Selimovic, George Vasiliou, Vincent Besat, Atilla Szalai, Jaoa Pedro, Esteban Sachetti, Sasa Markovic, Ionnas Pittas, Sege Gapke, Diego Aguirre, Emilio Jose Zelaya, Facundo Pereyra, Hector Yuste, Dylan Quedraogo, Chambos Kyriakou, Roger Tampa M'Pidda, Fotis Papoulis, Yannis Gianniotas, Adrian Sardinero, Petros Psychas, Danilo Spoljaric.

Referee: Stephan Klossner (Switzerland).

 

MATCH STATS

Apollon have faced League of Ireland opposition before in European competition having faced Cork City in the 2006-07 UEFA Cup.

The Leesiders came out on top in a 2-1 aggregate win over the Cypriots with defender and former Hoop Dan Murray scoring a 74th minute equaliser to send City through after a one-nil win at Turners Cross where Billy Woods scored the winner.

Shamrock Rovers have played 76 European games throughout their history, winning 16, drawing 14 and losing 46 games in European competition.

BETTING

Shamrock Rovers 21/10; Draw 2/1; Apollon Limassol 11/10.

PREDICTION

Shamrock Rovers 1 - 1 Apollon Limassol.

 

Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Neil Farrugia.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

 

Apollon Limassol

Injured: Unavailable.

Doubtful: Unavailable.

Suspended: None.