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Without a goal or point to their name in UEFA Champions League Group A, coach Elisha Levy wants Maccabi Haifa FC to remove "that monkey on our shoulder" when they end their campaign against FC Girondins de Bordeaux on Tuesday. Laurent Blanc, by contrast, will use his group winners' final match of the section to assess some of his younger players on the European stage ahead of the resumption of the competition in February. Despite only bringing 15 players to Israel, the French coach is promising a "dynamic and effective mix" of youth and experience.
Elisha Levi, Haifa coach
If Bordeaux arrived without seven or eight players they could suffer, but you have to remember their squad is very strong and whoever faces us has a very impressive resumé. We should still try our hardest and whatever result we will still go down in the history books. We will also be missing key players like Yaniv Katan, but it will still be a strong Haifa side. We are obviously bothered by the fact we haven't scored a goal or collected a point. We have that monkey on our shoulder and we hope to remove it after this match. We are focused and ambitious as we all want to finish our European campaign on a high note. We were unlucky to be drawn in a very tough group with excellent teams and if you look at the statistics, not many goals were scored in all the group matches. Reaching the Champions League was an achievement in itself, but it's not enough. Collecting compliments is far from points or goals. Alon Harazi will not start, but will make an appearance as a substitute to bow out on the biggest stage possible for such a great player.
Laurent Blanc, Bordeaux coach
We can't expect an easy match as Haifa caused us the most problems at this level. They should have done better against us the first time. Although they didn't score, they managed to play really well. We didn't come here as tourists, although it's almost impossible to come to Israel without going to see some of the sights. We visited Jerusalem, which was a good experience for the players' cultural background, but we are still here to play and to win a game. We're top of our group on merit and we're not going to apologise for that. I will field a much more attacking lineup and play with a more direct approach than we did in the previous fixture. Despite what people might say, it is not going to be a young side but a blend of younger and more experienced players which should make for a dynamic and effective mix.
05/12/09 Haifa 1-0 Bnei Sakhnin FC
• A solitary strike from Shlomi Arbeitman was enough for Haifa to register their eleventh league win in 12 outings this season. The day, however, belonged to veteran defender Alon Harazi, who made his final league appearance for the club as a late substitute.
• Prior to that game, Haifa had lost their 100 per cent record in this season's Ligat Ha'Al, succumbing 1-0 away against Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC on 30 November, a setback that brought to an end a run of ten straight victories.
05/12/09 Bordeaux 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain FC
• Ligue 1 leaders Bordeaux have kept a clean sheet in 12 of the 20 games they have played this season and have not conceded in their last three matches. They have been breached only twice at home in Ligue 1 this term and three times in all competitions.
• Nine of Bordeaux's 24 league goals and seven of their eight UEFA Champions League strikes this season have come from set-pieces.
Out: Gustavo Boccoli (thigh/groin), Yaniv Katan (back)
Doubtful: Jhon Jairo Culma (flu), Tsepo Masilela (flu)
Misses next match if booked: Gustavo Boccoli, Jhon Jairo Culma, Tsepo Masilela, Ali Osman
• Tiago Dutra is available again after a two-game suspension.
Out: Henrique (knee)
Misses next match if booked: Marc Planus
• Yoann Gourcuff made his return against PSG from the injury that forced him off 88 minutes into the second leg of France's World Cup play-off against Ireland.
• Haifa are hoping to avoid becoming only the second team in UEFA Champions League history to finish a group-stage programme without a goal. The first team to record that unwanted feat were RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2004/05.
• Bordeaux have conceded only two goals so far – the joint-best defensive record in the competition alongside FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC.
Did you know?
Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc scored two goals for France in a 4-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory against Israel in February 1993. He was also in the France team stunned 3-2 by Israel eight months later – the first of two home defeats that ended their World Cup qualifying hopes.
For more information on the match in the official press kit, click here.
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