Soccer team of the year?…APOEL Nicosia

December 28, 2011

Alright, alright I know most of you will be screaming “what about Barcelona?” right now but they get so many plaudits that I thought I could argue a contrarion position.

Yes World, European and Spanish champions Barca have been brilliant and in time we may say they were the greatest ever club side to play the game.

But given they have Lionel Messi — who also in time may be viewed as the world’s greatest ever player — the biggest stadium in Europe, vast finances, the bedrock of the team of world champions Spain and an organisation which calls itself “more than a club”, Barca should be one of the world’s top teams.

They ought to have won more than their four European Cups, three of which have come in the last five years. Barca are also not actually top of La Liga at the mid-season break with Real Madrid three points ahead.

APOEL Nicosia meanwhile have no high expectations.

APOEL weren’t even Cypriot champions in 2010 and had to battle past three other Nicosia sides — that is a lot of derbies — to win the national championship in May.

They were then thrilled just to make the Champions League group stages after three rounds of qualifiers.

For such a small side from a tiny footballing nation to not only make the Champions League last 16 but to top their group was nothing short of a miracle, especially as they finished ahead of twice European champions Porto and former UEFA Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg and Shakhtar Donetsk.

The first Cypriot team to reach the knockout stages have no big name players, just an immense will to win and a hugely strong team bond.

Don’t expect them to roll over against inconsistent Olympique Lyon  in February’s last 16 either. They could easily pull off another surprise and thus deserve to be up there with Barca as a team of the year.

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€9,000,000 is APOEL FC whole teams budget. This shows the power of mens heart and will, against money. As Apoel Greek fans we believe in the power of will and we transfer this to our players. Also we have players that are very quality players, is just that they did not had the chance to go to a big club like Barcelona. FORCA APOEL…

Posted by ApoelFans | Report as abusive

you should really dig a bit before boasting of the greatness of a team… surely what they’ve done in the field is worthy but a team is as good as the fans that represent it… let me remind you the size and power that ultras groups hold in Mediterranean and Balkan countries… please search further next time.

Posted by GloryDays1312 | Report as abusive

and while my other comment is pending, your “three other Nicosia sides” is inaccurate

Posted by GloryDays1312 | Report as abusive

This is a great article. Indeed Apoel has made us all proud this year. I too believe that against Lyon we have our chances. Self confidence is sky high and this is obvious if you see how the team is performing in local games.

I tell you one think only. There is no team in the last 16 that can defend like APOEL do. And Lyon has a problem with close defence even in France.

There are 2 legs and APOEL have the advantage of playing the second match in a packed home stadium.

So, lets wait a bit longer before awarding team of the year. After all, Greece winning the 2004 Euro is a beacon for all of us. I am not saying that we can win the CL but last 8 will be the success of the decade for a team with 10Million budget when Messi alone earns more than this.

Posted by Nicolas70 | Report as abusive

I totally agree. This team is better than any team in Cyprus and Greece.

Surely what they have done against temas with 10 to 15 20 times more budgets cannot be described.

Proud to be APOEL. You can be APOEL too.

Posted by Xkonomis | Report as abusive

Very good article !! Ivan Jovanovic is one of the major role of that big success. All the players are Ivan’s choice. He made a TEAM with only 9 millions and he pass in the first place in the group. Apoel fans are the best ever. They made fantastic atmosphere. The make GSP stadioum orange hell. We are waiting for Lyon !!

Posted by yiannisapoel | Report as abusive

First of all i would like to express my sincere thank you to the sports journalist of Reuter who has the will of expresing his opinion regarding his comments. The way all facts are placed he is, for me, 100% correct. Indeed, all his remarks are true. Barcelona is Barcelona. The dream team of the century. No doubt, but…
What about Apoel’s achievments?
Comparison? None.
Achievments? Beyond of any dispute. Not only having the results in mind, but also Apoel’s overall performance on the field. Really played all the teams of his groups as equal, and giving a great performance. And winning fair and with a lion heart, getting FIRST PLACE.This shows that nothing was left to fate. So, for me, no doubt, APOEL IS THE TEAM OF THE YEAR 2011…

Posted by Androulla | Report as abusive

Thank you for the reference to APOEL. The players deserve it as they’ve done so much for this team during 2011 and I am really looking forward to what’s going to come in 2012. They made us all proud and very happy. We are witnessing history through these games and I truly believe that APOEL can win a place in the last 8. The fans believe!

Also, @ GloryDays1312 post: That is not fair for the rest of 20000+ supporters of APOEL. And yes, it is a minority. Like there are minorities in other teams of Cyprus that burn Greek flags or support the illegal state of TRNC by showing their flag. OR they are using Che Guevara as their emblem without knowing history (like those 100 in APOEL do with Grivas). These actions do not mirror all of the fans. Stop labelling, this article is about the success of the best team of Cyprus. No stupid action of 3 little boys, or 100 immature boys can surpass APOEL’s success. A team is made out of its successes, its failures, and the love from its true fans. The ones who are doing these things are only destroying other people’s views about APOEL fans and they do not belong with the rest of us.

Posted by Geo89 | Report as abusive ro&context=C30e3f2fADOEgsToPDskK0mAEYS8F 5fFartI6YHCaV

Posted by chrav4 | Report as abusive

As a supporter of APOLE FC I would like to thank you for your comments. Yes, Barca is definately the best team in the world and maybe the biggest ever (in Club stage), based on the quality of football they are playing. Messi yet needs to prove he is the biggest player ever by producing something enormous for his country in the World Cup. Right now he cannot be compared with the likes of Pele, Maradona or Jidane that they lead their countries winning that competition with a talent in their teams nowhere near that of Barca or Argentina!

APOEL is a small club compared to Barca, Utd, Real, Milan and other big European names, with a tiny fraction of their budget. So to get twice the last 3 years in Ch.L. group stages and topping the group this year against huge teams is quite a miracle. Let’s not forget that APOEL has the smallest -by far- budget from any team reaching the last 16 knock out stage. Our highest paid player is the Argentinian Solari earning 400,000 euro per year. Now to overcome Lyon who is costing 16 times more than us will need to produce another miracle, but we will take the little chances that we have, and hey… who knows…!!

Posted by MikeChris | Report as abusive

Thanks to all for your comments, it’s nice to see the interest that a success story like this one generates…next stop Olympique Lyon as you say. The first knockout round in February will be an interesting spectacle with so many big teams not making it through and then the surprise packages like APOEL and Basel. YiannisApoel you credit Jovanovic for your team’s brilliant 2011, do you fear he will be poached by another club if the team continue their fine run? And to all APOEL fans, which player deserves the most credit for your Champions League antics?

Posted by Tom Pilcher | Report as abusive

Apoel fans voted in thay consider Ailton Almeida to be the top player for the CH. L. games with 51%. Second comes Pinto 16%, Manduka 13%

Posted by sotos | Report as abusive