Gica Popescu captained Barça versus AEK Larnaca. PHOTO: FCB ARCHIVE

This Wednesday, Barça officially opens Champions League play at the Camp Nou against Apoel Nicosia. This will be just the third ever visit to the stadium by a Cypriot team. Both prior occasions took place in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup versus Apollon Limassol in 1982 and AEK Larnaca in 1996.

15/9/82: FC BARCELONA v APOLLON LIMASSOL (8-0). UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Round of 16, first leg

  • This Monday marks the match's 32nd anniversary.
  • Diego Maradona was the star of the evening, netting a hat trick. Bernd Schuster added two more on a night that drew just 18,000 fans to the Camp Nou.
  • The match represents Barça's biggest rout in team history in European play, still tied with their 2003/04 UEFA Cup match versus Matador Puchow.
  • Surprisingly, the first goal of the evening did not come until the 35th minute. “I was quite angry. I was really going to let them have it at halftime, but fortunately we knocked in a few goals and things calmed down a bit," Barça coach Udo Lattek said after the match.
  •  The return leg in Cyprus ended 1-1 with Barça's goal coming from Josep Moratalla.

12/9/96: FC BARCELONA v AEK LARNACA (2-0). UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Round of 16, return leg

  • The match was played at the Olympic Stadium, Montjuic because the turf was being changed at the Camp Nou.
  • Ronaldo was the difference maker with scores in the 19th and 77th minutes.
  • Larnaca were well organized on defence with Barça struggling to take advantage of multiple scoring opportunities.
  • Bobby Robson opted to play current head coach Luis Enrique in the unfamiliar position of left back.
  • After drawing 0-0 in Cyprus, Barça went on to the following round and eventually won the Cup Winners' Cup Final, held that year in Rotterdam.

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