Real Madrid of Spain returns home to the Bernabeu on Apr. 4 to take on APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus in the second leg of their European Champions League quarterfinal tie with a 3-0 lead from the first leg. Real hasn’t lost a game in this season’s tournament as they’ve won eight matches and drawn one. They’ve also outscored the opposition 27 to four along the way. Karim Benzema is Madrid’s top scorer in the event so far with seven goals while Gustavo Manduca has three for Nicosia.
Real has lost just once in their past 10 home Champions League matches, which came against Barcelona in the semi finals last season. If the Spanish giants manage to make the semi finals this season it’ll be the for a record 23rd time in the European Cup (Champions League). It doesn’t look too good for Nicosia considering Madrid has won all four of their home games against Cypriot clubs over the years and have scored at least six goals in each of those games. In total, they’ve outscore Cypriot teams 26 to one at home.
Nicosia will have to keep an eye on Benzema as he scored twice in the first leg and also has 13 goals in his past 14 Champions League matches. Nicosia hasn’t been too bad on the road though since they’ve only allowed six goals against in their last 10 away games in Europe. This includes a 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid two years ago in the league’s group stage. They’ve never managed to beat a Spanish club in 11 tries so far and it’s very doubtful this is going to change against Real.
The Cypriot team has lost their other four games in Spain in their last five visits and didn’t manage to score a goal in four of those five contests. Still, Madrid manager Jose Mourinho said his players won’t be able to take Nicosia lightly and will have to earn a victory to go through. The Spanish league leaders, who won 5-1 away in Osasuna on the weekend, are aware that the Cypriot minnows have already beaten Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Lyon.
It looks like Mourinho may have to play the game without Ricardo Carvalho and Lassana Diarra as they’re both still injured. However, Xabi Alonso returns from a suspension and Angel Di Maria should be able to dress after returning from a thigh injury. Nicosia will be without defender Marcelo Oliveira who was injured in the first leg as well as forward Ivan Trickovski who has a broken hand. Striker Ailton is questionable as are Nektarios Alexandrou and Athos Solomou.
Predictions and Odds
Look for Nicosia to play a decent game, but in the end Real Madrid should at least equal the 3-0 score they put up in the first leg of this quarterfinal tie.
The latest odds by Bet365 show a Madrid win at 1/12 with a Nicosia victory at 25/1 and a 90-minute draw at 9/1.