Wednesday’s meeting will be the first ever between Apoel FC and FC Barcelona, but there are certain links between the two teams.
The most obvious is the man in goal for the Cypriot champions, Urko Pardo. Born in Brussels but to Spanish parents, he was part of the FCB academy from 2001 to 2005, and made 12 appearances for Barça B on Division 2B. He then had spells at Cartagena and Sabadell before coming back to Barça in the 2006/07 season and playing six more games for the reserves. His first foreign club was Iraklis of Greece. Then he went to Rapid Bucharest, although he spent most his time on loan to Olympiakos back in Greece before joining his current club in 2011.
The most famous name in the Apoel squad is John Arne Riise, the Norwegian signed just a few weeks ago and an old friend of Javier Mascherano. He and the Argentinian were together at Liverpool until 2008, when Riise left for AS Roma.
Curiously, just a few days after Riise left Roma to return to England in June 2011, this time to Fulham, Luis Enrique took over as manager of the Italian outfit.
One final tie between the clubs involves Tiago Gomes. The Portuguese midfielder played for Malaga in the 2007/08 season and for Hercules of Alicante from 2009 to 2011. In his final year with Hercules he got his first and only taste of First Division football in Spain, and was there to savour his side’s historic 2-0 win at the Camp Nou in the second day of the season. It may not have been the best of starts to Barça’s campaign, but they went on to do the Liga and Champions League double.