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Thomas Christiansen analysed Barça's next Champions League opponent / PHOTO: AEK Larnaca

Thomas Christiansen now manages Cypriot club AEK Larnaca / PHOTO: AEK Larnaca

Thomas Christiansen took up his first managerial post just a few months ago at AEK Larnaca, and recently faced Apoel FC in the Cypriot championship. So he was the perfect man for fcbarcelona.com to speak to on its quest to learn more about Barça’s opening opponents in the Champions League.

How are you settling into your new life Cyprus?

“I’m happy. It’s my first managing job and we just beat title hopefuls Apollon 5-2 away in the first match. Then we lost to Apoel, but we played well. There’s an optimistic mood among the squad”.

What are AEK Larnaca aiming to do this season?

“To qualify for the title playoffs. The top six teams go through and that’s our target. But we’ll take things one game at a time”.I’m sure they’ll go for 4-4-2. They don’t create much pressure up front

You lost to Apoel two weeks ago.

“We were able to play with them, but there is a big difference in our respective budgets and they ended up beating us. But it was a serious game. We kept our shape and caused them problems. But you can’t make mistakes against the big teams. Apoel are a good team”.

What would you say their main virtues are?

“They have a strong squad. I think they’re the best side in Cyprus, both individually and as a group. Apoel are most dangerous in attack. They have some top class players like De Vincenti, Aloneftis and Manduca, who got two against us. And I’d highlight Vinicius, he’s the engine of the team, a very hard worker and he gets through on goal. He scored in both legs of the Champions League qualifier”.You need to be brave to come to Cyprus and win

Do they have any weak spots?

“I’d day in defence. They move about a lot and have a tendency to leave spaces, and that’ll be especially true if Barça have two men coming at them down the wing. Apoel are a good side, but if Barça get the ball moving around fast, I don’t think they’ll cause too many problems”.

What kind of tactics do you think Apoel will use?

“I’m sure they’ll go for 4-4-2. They don’t create much pressure up front, and less so against Barça. In fact, they didn’t even do that much against us. I guess they’ll try to keep it tight at the back to stop Barça from getting the ball through the middle, which is why I think Barça should try to get the ball moving quick up the wings”.

They’re all saying that Apoel is the weak side in Group F. What do you think?

“They’ve been drawn in a group that they’ll find hard going. But Apoel are especially strong in their stadium. The fans get right behind them and no foreign teams ever get many goals there. You need to be brave to come to Cyprus and win”.

Finally, from afar, what’s your impression of Barça under Luis Enrique?

“To be honest I’ve only been able to see one Barça game since he took over, but from what I can gather, he’s using the same ideas as ever”.


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