Europa League Soccer: Hapoel Tel Aviv aims to do the double over Rapid Vienna

By JEREMY LAST
November 5, 2009 06:24

Europa League Soccer Ha

2 minute read.



Hapoel Tel Aviv can put itself in a commanding position to qualify for the knockout stage of the Europa League with a victory over Rapid Vienna in Austria on Thursday night. Tel Aviv's European campaign was rejuvenated two weeks ago when it stunned Vienna 5-1 at Bloomfield Stadium. The Reds are now aiming to do the double over the team which is currently placed second in the Austrian Football Bundesliga, a point behind Red Bull Salzburg. But, although Eli Guttman's side is joint top of Group C with Hamburg going into the crucial away game, it is not taking Vienna lightly. "We are going there to get a good result. Rapid is a very strong team and we know to expect a very tough game," Hapoel striker Itai Shechter said of the team which knocked England's Aston Villa out of Europe in the qualifying stage and defeated Hamburg away in matchday one. "We will do all we can to come back satisfied. If we go looking for a draw it doesn't always work out. They also came to Israel aiming for a draw and look how the game finished. But I am sure it will be a very difficult match tomorrow," Shechter told reporters at Ben Gurion airport on Wednesday, as the team prepared to leave for Austria. After defeating arch-rival Maccabi Tel Aviv in Sunday's Premier League derby the Hapoel players were in high spirits, aiming to prove that a successful European campaign does not have to detract from efforts back home. Tel Aviv's exploits on the continental stage contrast starkly with those of league rival Maccabi Haifa, which has practically no chance of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage after losing its fourth-straight game on Tuesday, 1-0 at home to Juventus. Shechter appeared satisfied with his team's showings in Europe, having claimed two wins out of three games, only losing at Hamburg. "We have played against the three teams in our group and we have seen that we can stand up against them, play at their level and even play better," Shechter said. "Hapoel Tel Aviv can qualify to the next stage. If we come away with a good result tomorrow everything is possible." Guttman will have a full squad available for the game, with midfielder Avichai Yadin expected to return to the starting lineup after being forced to miss the derby due to injury. Some 1,000 Hapoel fans are expected to travel to Austria to support their team at the Ernst Happel Stadium.


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