Thursday, 28 July 2016

Grasshoppers Zürich vs Apollon Limassol UEFA Europa League Qualifiers Match Preview And Prediction - July 29, 2016

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Grasshoppers have appeared in the Europa League 3 times since it was rebranded and they’ve gone out in the play-off round on each occasion but they almost fell well before that this year. KR of Iceland pushed them very hard in an entertaining 2nd Qualifying Round tie. The 1st Leg in Reykjavík finished 3-3 and Grasshoppers made hard work of the 2nd Leg too, narrowly winning 2-1 with Runar Mar Sigurjónsson scoring both the goals against his compatriots. The won at the weekend again 2-0 with Lausanne Sport the visitors in their opening Swiss Super League game so should come into this with a bit of confidence after a better defensive display.

The Swiss side are the favourites to go through but Apollon will fancy their chances in the 2nd Leg if they can get a decent result in Zurich. They finished 3rd in the Cypriot top flight last season and as such enter the competition at this stage. It’s their first competitive game of the season but they have played 4 friendlies ahead of this match winning only the first of those games which was a 4-3 win against English side Chesterfield.

Apollon have made the group stage in 2 of the last 3 seasons so they will be tough opposition for Grasshoppers here. However they lost at this stage to Qabala last term and they’ve lost 4 of their last 6 away games in the competition, some of them quite heavy defeats. Grasshoppers don’t have enough quality to do that to them but they should edge the 1st Leg with home advantage and superior fitness given they’ve already played several competitive games already and the visitors haven’t.

Therefore backing Grasshopper to Win 2-1 at 15/2 looks good here.

The sides have never previously met. Apollon lost 3-1 in this city against FC Zurich in the group stage in 2014.

Apollon have lost their two previous Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round ties, losing the away leg on both occasions. Grasshopper's last 3 Europa League home games have all ended in 2-1 scorelines (1 win, 2 defeats).

Pierluigi Tami may opt for the same side that played in the league at the weekend after an unconvincing performance last week against KR in the last round.

New signing Shane O'Neill could be included in the squad after the former US youth international joined from Cambridge.

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