UEFA Soccer: Can injury-plagued Haifa score in Turin?
UEFA Soccer Can injury-
By ALLON SINAI
Maccabi Haifa continues its search for a first Champions League point, and for that matter a first goal, when it visits Juventus in Turin on Wednesday night.
Despite impressive showings against Bayern Munich and Bordeaux, Haifa is bottom of Group A, and faces an uphill battle once more on Wednesday.
Under any circumstances, Haifa would be considered a clear underdog against Juventus.
However, matters have been complicated even further by the absence of three of the team's best players.
The star of the side, Yaniv Katan, is out injured, with Biram Kiyal suspended and teenage bright spark Eyal Golasa also missing through injury.
"We haven't got any points, but we take encouragement from the way we have played and we will be doing our best even though we are facing a very strong team," Levy said on Tuesday.
"We always play to win. We did that in the first two matches and we will do so again."
Juventus will be especially desperate to claim all three points on Wednesday.
The Italian giant drew its first two Champoins League games this season - 1-1 against Bordeaux and 0-0 at Bayern Munich - and is winless in its last five matches in all competitions in the past month.
On Saturday, Juve drew 1-1 with Fiorentina, leaving it in third position in the Serie A standings, four points behind leaders Inter Milan.
"It is not normal for Juventus to spend a month without a win," said star goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who will be the Juventus captain due to the absence of the injured Alessandro Del Piero.
"It is a delicate situation, but I am sure that we are on the right track to come out of it. The biggest mistake we could make would be to underestimate our opponent. This match must be a launching pad for us. We respect Maccabi and we want to prepare for the match in the best way possible."
Juventus, which will also be without Tiago, Hasan Salihamidzic and Claudio Marchisio, should be helped by the recent return of Diego, who is recovering from a knee injury.
"I'm improving and I feel at 110 percent. We have to continue improving as a team. At the moment we're missing something and missing out on wins," the Brazilian said.
Several Juventus players have had little rest in recent weeks, with Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Fabio Grosso all playing for Italy last week in World Cup qualifying.
"This match and the one after in Tel Aviv are ones we have to win at all costs," Chiellini said. "It will mean we will be able to be at our best for the last two matches.
"We know they are a team to respect because of how they played against Bayern Munich and Bordeaux, when they only lost the match in the last few minutes."
Juventus' young coach Ciro Ferrara is not taking Haifa lightly. "I saw them play and I think they are a very organized team," said Ferrara, who claimed on Tuesday that he did not know Katan will not play.
"They lost the first match at home but they played well in the first half. Against Bordeaux they lost in the dying minutes after having created a number of opportunities. It is a team that should be respected."
Levy has a real selection headache for Wednesday's encounter. Gustavo Boccoli will replace Kiyal, with in-form Shlomi Arbeitman set to play with Vladimir Dvalishvili up-front.
Lior Rafaelov will start in place of Golasa and with Katan out and Mohammad Ghadir doubtful, Levy may opt for playing right-back Ali Ottman in the right of the midfield. Â Â Â
Goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch is suffering from an ankle injury, but will start as usual.
"Juventus must win this match," Davidovitch said. "They will attack from the start and we need to prepare accordingly."
AP contributed to this report.
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