After all the build-up to the showdown was overshadowed by matters completely
unrelated to sports, Maccabi Tel Aviv will need to overcome the distractions, as
well as a 1-0 deficit against a tough FC Basel side, to keep alive its Champions
League dream on Tuesday night.
Maccabi hosts Basel in the second leg of
the third qualifying round at Bloomfield Stadium, looking to erase last week’s
slender defeat in Switzerland.
The four-time defending Swiss champion
dominated the first half and Maccabi was fortunate to find itself just onegoal
down at the break, with Valentin Stocker scoring the opener in the 39th
Maccabi finally found its rhythm after the interval, but couldn’t
convert its chances and will require an almost flawless performance to stun
Basel, which reached the Europa League semifinals last season.
approach will be the same throughout the game,” said Maccabi coach Paulo Sousa.
“We have to take into account that Basel will have its chances, but we want to
score from the first minute.”
Sousa continued to spread optimism
regarding Maccabi’s chances on Tuesday.
“I thought from the beginning
that we could beat Basel because I’m an optimistic person,” he said. “From what
I’ve seen from my players I’ve got even more confidence, especially after the
first game. I think we can cause Basel difficulties but we need to perform
really well individually and collectively. Since we finished the first leg I
feel that my players are confident and that we will do it and
Sousa was doing his best to focus on the game itself, with
Basel’s Egyptian players Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny garnering much of the
attention over the past week.
Salah was reported to have said that he had
no choice but to travel to Israel and that in his mind he will be playing in
However, he denied the claims on Monday.
“I’m here with
my team because we need to win and want to reach the Champions League,” he said.
“If anyone reads any political statement from me it is not true.”
was one of Basel’s best players last week and is expected to start once more in
the second leg, with Mohamed Elneny also likely to be in the first
“We wanted to win by two goals in the first leg, but I believe that
our 1-0 win will also prove to be enough,” said Basel coach Murat Yakin, who
refused to answer any questions regarding his Egyptians.
“Maccabi will be
ready, but we are experienced in these situations.
We just need to play
the way we did in the first half last week. Maccabi has a strong attacking game,
but I’m optimistic.”
Maccabi is expected to make one change to the team
that played in Switzerland, with Tal Ben-Haim to take the place of Omri Altman
in the midfield.
“We didn’t show enough character in the first half last
week and when you do that against a team like Basel you get punished,” said
midfeilder Alberman. “We will have to be brave on Tuesday, but also make sure we
The way we balance the two will decide the tie.”
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