Real Madrid Opens Quest for Champions League Three-Peat vs. Upstart APOEL

1:13 | Planet Futbol
Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng: Everyone is gunning for Real Madrid
Monday September 11th, 2017

Real Madrid begin the defence of their Champions League title on Wednesday night. 

The Spanish giants have now lifted the trophy in successive seasons and on 12 occasions in total. Their first opponents in 2017-18 will be APOEL, the champions of Cyprus. 

Here is everything you need to know about the game at Bernabeu. 

Classic Encounter

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APOEL caused a major surprise in the 2011-12 season by reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League. Having come through a group featuring Zenit St. Petersburg, Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto, the Cypriots then knocked out Lyon in the round of 16. 

This gave them a quarter final date with Real Madrid. Having lost 3-0 at home, APOEL arrived at the Bernabeu looking for a miracle. Goals from Ronaldo and Kaka gave Real a halftime lead. 

APOEL need get back into the game with two goals scored by Gustavo Manduca and Esteban Solari. 

The Cypriots faded away badly though a second goal from Ronaldo along with strikes from José Callejón and Angel di Maria leading to a 8-2 Real Madrid aggregate win. 

Recent Form

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After beating Deportivo La Coruña in their opening game of the season, Real have stuttered in their opening two games at home in the league. 

A 2-2 draw with Valencia saw Zidane's man need a late equaliser Marco Asensio before Saturday's 1-1 draw with Levante, which saw Marcelo sent off.

APOEL started their Champions League campaign in the middle of July when they entered the tournament in the second qualifying round. 

They've knocked out F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg), Viitorul Constanța (Romania) and Slavia Prague (Czech Republic). They now have landed a dream draw against one of Europe's biggest clubs

Team News

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After his ban for being sent off in the Spanish Super Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo will make his eagerly awaited return on Wednesday. 

Karim Benzema is injured and will certainly miss the game with Gareth Bale expected to return having been on the bench over the weekend.

APOEL will welcome back their Australian winger Tommy Oar for this game, they also have left back Nektarios Alexandrou back available. 

Prediction

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In a group with Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund, APOEL will probably be the whipping boys of this group. This is likely to start in the Bernabeu as Real Madrid will look to right some wrongs after a poor start to the La Liga season.

Prediction: Real Madrid 4-1 APOEL

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