The last time Maribor reached the group stage, they overcame an Israeli team in qualification – a fate Hapoel Beer-Sheva will want to avoid in what is their second straight play-off.
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Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC are aiming to avoid a second successive season of UEFA Champions League play-off heartache as they welcome an NK Maribor side targeting a third group stage appearance.
• Hapoel Beer-Sheva have never before encountered Slovenian opposition.
• Maribor's record in knockout ties against Israeli clubs reads W1 L1. They lost 3-2 on aggregate to Maccabi Haifa FC in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (1-2 away, 1-1 home) before beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC by the same score, at the same stage, three years later (1-0 home, 2-2 away).
• H. Beer-Sheva got to these play-offs with an away-goals victory over PFC Ludogorets 1945. They prevailed 2-0 at home yet looked to be heading out when trailing 3-0 in Bulgaria, only for a Mohammad Ghadir goal to prove decisive.
• This is Hapoel's second UEFA Champions League campaign. In 2016/17 they ousted FC Sheriff and Olympiacos FC to make the play-offs, where they went down 5-2 in the first leg at Celtic and bowed out despite a subsequent 2-0 home success.
• Last season Beer-Sheva went on to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32, succumbing 3-1 at home and 2-1 away to Beşiktaş JK.
• The Turner Stadium team lifted their fourth Israeli championship in 2016/17 – their second consecutive title.
• Beer-Sheva have won three of their last four European home games, including both this term: 2-1 against Hungary's Budapest Honvéd FC in their second qualifying round first leg, then 2-0 versus Ludogorets in the third round opener. They have lost just two of their last 11 European home matches (W6 D3).
• Maribor made it to the play-offs by overcoming HŠK Zrinjski of Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-2 on aggregate in the second qualifying round (2-1 away, 1-1 home) and Iceland's FH Hafnarfjördur in the next round (1-0 home, 1-0 away).
• The Slovene side are seeking to contest the group stage for a third time, having previously competed in 1999/2000 and 2014/15.
• Maribor's record in UEFA Champions League play-offs is W1 L2. They knocked out Celtic FC 2-1 on aggregate in 2014/15, having previously lost to GNK Dinamo Zagreb (2012/13) and FC Viktoria Plzeň (2013/14).
• In 2016/17 Maribor dispatched PFC Levski Sofia and Aberdeen FC before falling to Gabala SC in the UEFA Europa League play-offs.
• Maribor are in the UEFA Champions League after landing a sixth Slovenian title in seven seasons in 2016/17.
• The team from Stadion Ljudski vrt are on a five-match unbeaten run in Europe (W4 D1) and have lost only one of their last ten games, home and away (W5 D4).
• Maribor have lost just one of their last five European away games (W2 D2), winning the last two.
Team and coach links
• Maribor midfielder Marwan Kabha is the third Israeli to play for Maribor after predecessors Sintayehu Sallalich and Dudu Biton.
• Defender Marko Šuler was based in Israel in 2012 with Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.
• Beer-Sheva midfielders Daniel Einbinder and Maharan Radi played against the victorious Maribor team in both legs of M. Tel-Aviv's third qualifying round defeat of 2014/15.
• Beer-Sheva striker Mohammad Ghadir faced Maribor twice when Maccabi Haifa beat the Slovenes in 2011/12 qualifying. On the losing side were current Maribor players Tavares, Jasmin Handanović and Aleksander Rajčević; coach Darko Milanič was on the bench during the first of his two managerial stints.
• The 37-year-old Barak Bakhar is attempting to convert his Midas touch as Beer-Sheva boss into UEFA Champions League qualification, having brought two consecutive Israeli titles to Hapoel in his first two seasons in charge. Bakhar arrived in 2015 after three seasons coaching Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC, the club he served during the bulk of his playing career as a defender.
• Ex-Yugoslavia and Slovenia defender Milanič returned to the Maribor helm in March 2016 and, having won that season's domestic cup, he steered the Purples to the Slovene First League title last term. The 49-year-old had earlier enjoyed a glittering five-year spell in the Maribor dug-out before taking on fresh challenges with SK Sturm Graz and Leeds United AFC.