Maccabi Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
They may have the same objective, but Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa face
completely different propositions on their respective routes to the playoff
round of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Tel Aviv was pleased with
its 2-1 defeat to Olympiacos in Athens in the first leg of the third qualifying
round last week, but even with a precious away goal, it has still got a mountain
to climb at Bloomfield Stadium on Thursday.
Haifa, on the other hand, was
disappointed with its minimal 1-0 victory over Dinamo Minsk at Kiryat Eliezer
Stadium in the first leg, but remains a clear favorite to advance to the next
round in Belarus.
Tel Aviv enters Thursday’s return leg with plenty of
confidence after its display in Greece and manager Avi Nimni is hoping the
pressure of being the favorite will take its toll on Olympiacos.
Olympiacos to be knocked-out by Maccabi is a catastrophe,” Nimni said. “If we
lose we will be disappointed, but will move on easily. The tie is in our hands
and I hope we will be pleased with the result. The players know that they are
facing a favored opponent, but they will try and record a stunning
“We were very optimistic before the first leg and remain so ahead
of Thursday as well.”
The yellow-and-blue took a surprise lead in the
18th minute of the first leg through Haris Medunjanin, but after Albert Baning
was sent off in the 60th minute, the Greeks took control and scored twice in the
subsequent 13 minutes to secure a slender lead ahead of the return
“The pressure always exists when you want to win,” Olympiacos coach
Ewald Lienen said. “The players are used to it.
Maccabi proved that it is
a good team, but if you want to advance in Europe you always aim to win every
Olympiacos, which is playing in the Europa League after failing
to claim the championship for just the second time in 13 years last season, is
expected to make several changes to the team that started in
Greek international players Avraam Papadopoulos and Vasilis
Torosidis are likely to bolster the team’s defense, but Albert Riera, who
recently signed from Liverpool, will not play after remaining in
Maccabi will make just one change from last week’s lineup, with
Shiran Yeini replacing the banned Baning.
Roberto Colautti will be the
lone-striker once more, with Barak Itzhaki and Medunjanin providing support to
the Israel international in Maccabi’s crucial search of a goal.
to focus on ourselves and not on Olympiacos,” Colautti said. “We will have to
play an open game to win and remain calm, patient and optimistic.”
had numerous chances to record a significant victory over Minsk in the first
leg, but its tie still hangs in the balance after Vladimir Dvalishvili scored
the only goal of the encounter in the 30th minute.
“I’m sure the match in
Minsk will be completely different to the first leg,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy
said. “In European play you have to know how to play for a
“Although it is clear the Belarusians will attack us from the
start we will not settle for just defending. I would have been calmer had we had
a 2-0 advantage from the first leg, but even so we should be okay.”
Maccabis in second-leg Europa action Yellow-and-blue down 2-1 as it hosts
Olympiacos; Greens in Belarus clinging to 1-0 lead MACCABI TEL AVIV midfielder
Albert Baning (right) vies for the ball with Olympiacos’ Dennis Rommedahl (left)
as Maccabi’s Yoav Ziv looks on during last week’s first-leg Europa League third
round qualification match in Greece. Olympiacos claimed a 1-0 victory in that
contest and will try to stave off Tel Aviv in tonight’s second leg at
Bloomfield. Maccabi Haifa is on the road vs Dinamo Minsk.
On TV: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Olympiacos second leg (live on Sport 1 at 8:50 p.m.)