Hapoel Beersheba defender Shir Tzedek faces UEFA’s anti-doping tribunal in Nyon, Switzerland, today while his teammates will be making their final preparations for tonight’s final Europa League clash against Viktoria Plzen at Turner Stadium..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv hopes to avoid making unwanted European soccer history on Thursday night, while Hapoel Beersheba’s thoughts will be with defender Shir Tzedek in Switzerland when it hosts its final Europa League group match.
Both Maccabi and Beersheba enter their last group game with nothing significant to play for, with Tel Aviv already losing any chance of progressing with two matches to spare, while Hapoel’s hopes were extinguished with the 1-0 defeat to Lugano two weeks ago.
Maccabi visits Villarreal in Spain in danger of becoming the first team in the history of the Europa League to fail to score a single goal in an entire group campaign. The yellow-and-blue has a single point and a combined goal difference of 0-8. Tel Aviv picked up its only point to date when it drew 0-0 with Villarreal in Netanya in September.
Maccabi could desperately use a positive result to boost its confidence, drawing its past two Premier League games, including a 1-1 tie against lowly Ashdod SC on Saturday.
Maccabi trails Beersheba by five points in local league play, with Hapoel tied for first place with Hapoel Haifa after beating Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3-1 on Sunday for its sixth win from the past seven matches.
However, the loss in Lugano two weeks ago means Beersheba only has pride and prize money to play for when it hosts Viktoria Plzen at Turner Stadium on Thursday.
While the team would like to end the group stage on a sweet note, everyone connected with the club will be far more concerned with the outcome of defender Shir Tzedek’s anti-doping tribunal at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, earlier Thursday.
Tzedek hasn’t played for the team since testing positive for the stimulant Octopamine back in September following the Champions League qualifier against Maribor. Tzedek plans to explain that the banned substance entered his body inadvertently, but could nevertheless be banned for up to two years.