Compared to Benfica’s disastrous beginning to its local campaign, Hapoel’s single victory in its first three league matches is quite impressive.
By ALLON SINAI
Hapoel Tel Aviv may be entering Tuesday’s Champions League group stage opener at Benfica on the back of an erratic start to its Premier League title defense.However, compared to Benfica’s disastrous beginning to its local campaign, Hapoel’s single victory in its first three league matches is quite impressive.The Portuguese champion has lost three of its first four league games, falling 2-1 to Vitoria de Guimaraes in its latest encounter on Friday.Nevertheless, Benfica remains the clear favorite for Tuesday’s game at the Estadio da Luz and Tel Aviv goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has no illusions regarding the difficulty of the task on hand.“Benfica is the better team,” said Enyeama, who was not at his best in Tel Aviv’s 2-2 draw with Hapoel Acre on Saturday.“However, I think we have a 50 percent chance in Portugal. Benfica has proven players, but we will come to fight and will do our best.”Incidentally, Hapoel’s two other opponents in Group B have also struggled at the start of their league campaigns.AdvertisementSchalke 04 has lost all three of its matches in the German Bundesliga, while Lyon has won just one of five encounters in the French Ligue 1.Hapoel hosts Lyon in its first home match on September 29 and it now seems it will likely do so at Bloomfield Stadium.Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon said on Sunday that he has been told by UEFA officials that Tel Aviv will be able to play its home matches at Bloomfield rather than National Stadium at Ramat Gan, but Hapoel is still awaiting an official announcement from European soccer’s governing body.Meanwhile, Hapoel Haifa maintained its perfect start to the Premier League season on Sunday, defeating Bnei Yehuda 2-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium thanks to Gal Arel’s brace (19, 81).Maccabi Haifa goes for its third straight victory when it visits Hapoel Beersheba on Monday.
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