Euro Soccer: Hapoel going for the win vs Celtic

Euro Soccer Hapoel goin

Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Celtic in its Europa League group stage opener on Thursday night, knowing that it will need to claim the first home victory of its continental campaign to have a reasonable chance of advancing from Group C. Hapoel drew 1-1 against both IFK Göteborg of Sweden and Czech club FK Teplice in the Europa League qualifiers, but progressed nevertheless after recording road victories in the first legs of the two ties. On Thursday, however, Tel Aviv can not afford another draw at Bloomfield Stadium if it has any intention of progressing to the competition's round of 32 from a group which also includes Hamburg and Rapid Vienna. "We believe that we can, and should, beat Celtic at home," Hapoel coach Eli Gutman said. "The most important thing for us was to reach the group stage, but now that we are here we want to succeed. The key for us will be to maintain our stability and principals." Hapoel enters the match in high spirits after claiming its first Premier League victory of the season on Sunday, defeating Hapoel Beersheba 3-1 away from home. Celtic, which finished second to arch-rival Rangers last season after winning three straight league titles, was handed a place in the Europa League group stage after struggling against a superior Arsenal team in the Champions League playoffs, losing 2-0 at home and 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium. In fact, Celtic has won just one of its last 24 European away matches, but that victory came earlier this season when its defeated Dinamo Moscow 2-0. The Scottish giant began its league campaign with three straight victories before recording a disappointing 1-1 home draw against Dundee United on Saturday. Manager Tony Mowbray, who joined Celtic over the summer, is not willing to settle for any result other than a victory on Thursday night. "I've seen Hapoel a few times on DVD. They look like a very technical team with very talented individuals. They play football in a style I appreciate. Tel Aviv passes the ball around the pitch and has fast and strong attacking players," Mowbray said on Wednesday. "A good result for Celtic is a victory, but I understand it will be a tough game for us. They are a talented football team and we respect them for that. However, we are going to try and win this football match." Despite not boasting any of Europe's big names, Celtic has an extremely deep and talented squad, which includes the likes of goalkeeper Arthur Boruc, Greek international Georgios Samaras and Scotland's Shaun Maloney. "I think we believe we can win the competition," defender Gary Caldwell said. "We have proven we can compete with the very best. Overall I think we've got a squad which is capable of going very far. I think we need to go into every game trying to win it." Gutman was confident his team will be ready for the crunch match. "We know Celtic attack with a lot of players and we know they have a lot of experience," said Gutman, who will be without the injured Michael Zandberg and the suspended Itai Shechter for Thursday's encounter. As always, Gutman will also need his star goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama to be at his best and come to his team's rescue when all else fails as he often does. "The chances before the game are 50-50," said Enyeama. "We have a lot of respect for Celtic, but we are going to fight for the victory."