Mac Haifa still in search of first goal, point

Mac Haifa still in searc

By
November 25, 2009 05:45
3 minute read.

Maccabi Haifa will be playing almost entirely for pride in Wednesday's Champions League match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. The Israeli champion may still have a theoretical chance of finishing third in Group A and progressing to the Europa League's round of 32. However, it is safe to say that Haifa will be more than content to settle for a first point, or at least score a first goal in the group stage, when it faces the German powerhouse on Wednesday. As impressive as it has been in its first four group matches, Haifa still finds itself in serious danger of becoming the first team ever to end the Champions League group stage without a point or a goal. Coach Elisha Levy has stressed time and again that he is pleased with the way his side has played, but also he knows that Haifa's European campaign will be branded as a failure should it lose all six of its group matches without scoring a single goal. "I think we deserved to score a goal in each one of our matches," said Levy, who visited the Dachau concentration camp with his players and the club's management on Tuesday morning. "We failed to score because of our lack of experience and because a young team tends to have little luck. I hope we finally score in Munich. We are in a confident mood because all our players are finally fit. This is our toughest match of the group stage, especially as Bayern must win." Munich needs to beat Haifa to have a chance of advancing to the knockout stage of the Champions League - and only if Juventus does not defeat Bordeaux. Should Juventus win Wednesday in Bordeaux, the only thing left for Bayern is to secure a place in the Europa League. Bordeaux, which qualified with its 2-0 win at Bayern in the previous round, leads Group A with 10 points, two more than the Italians. Bayern is third with four points. Under the best scenario, Bayern could still qualify with a last-match win in Turin. "It's not all up to us but we can make it," embattled Bayern coach Louis van Gaal said. "The players know it, I know it and I hope Bordeaux knows it, too." Ahead of the game in Munich, van Gaal got some badly needed backing from the front office - at least for the time being. "We have given him our full backing for the next weeks. We told him that we'll all strive to solve the problems together," general manager Uli Hoeness said. Bayern has drawn its last three Bundesliga games and is still six points behind leader Leverkusen. The mass-circulation Bild newspaper, which pays Beckenbauer as a columnist, on Tuesday predicted van Gaal would be gone during the Christmas break and printed a list of possible successors (Matthias Sammer, Guus Hiddink, Thomas Schaaf). Beckenbauer and others have said that the board would analyze the situation during the break before making a decision on the future. Van Gaal's predecessor, Juergen Klinsmann, also did not last a full season. As for the match against Maccabi, van Gaal cautioned his team against taking the Israeli opposition lightly despite Bayern's 3-0 win in Israel. "I won't make the mistake of booking it already as a victory," van Gaal said. "It's not a light rival and it's not going to be that easy." Winger Arjen Robben is doubtful after aggravating a knee injury and the team's other star, Franck Ribery, is out with a long-term knee problem. Levy has got an almost full squad to pick from, with only midfielder Gustavo Boccoli missing through injured. Eyal Golasa is in contention for a place in the starting 11 after returning to training following more than a month out. One player who knows he is guaranteed to start is star forward Yaniv Katan. "Despite failing to find the back of the net we are not under any pressure," Katan said. "We need to score and I'm sure we will." AP contributed to this report


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