The official website for European football

Valencia face Maccabi threat

Published: Thursday 11 December 2003, 11.15CET
Maccabi Haifa FC and Valencia CF meet on Thursday aiming for a place in the UEFA Cup third-round draw.

Tournament statistics

M. HaifaValencia

Goals scored4
Attempts on target4
Attempts off target0
Fouls committed0
Yellow cards7
Red cards0


Published: Thursday 11 December 2003, 11.15CET

Valencia face Maccabi threat

Maccabi Haifa FC and Valencia CF meet on Thursday aiming for a place in the UEFA Cup third-round draw.

Maccabi Haifa and Valencia CF meet in the Netherlands on Thursday to determine who takes the last place on offer in the UEFA Cup third round.

Rearranged fixture
The match was originally scheduled to take place a fortnight ago in Izmir but was moved to the Sparta stadium in Rotterdam in the wake of recent events in Turkey. The first leg at the Mestalla on 6 November finished goalless and Maccabi midfield player Idan Tal knows that another strong defensive display will be necessary if his side are to progress.

Spanish experience
Tal, who had a loan spell in the Primera División with Rayo Vallecano last season, said: "Valencia are by far a better team than the Manchester United [FC] side who faced Haifa [in the UEFA Champions League] last year. But, the longer we manage to hold on and frustrate Valencia, the easier it will be for us."

Praise for opponents
A second goalless draw would spell a penalty shoot-out and the 28-year-old Israeli international added: "If we are able to hang on for 120 minutes without scoring or conceding, our chances will be even."

Davidovic important
Much will depend on Maccabi goalkeeper Nir Davidovic, who shone in the first leg, and the two defensive replacements Dekel Keinan and Eitan Azariya, in for the injured Alon Harazi and Avishai Zano. Maccabi also have Paraguayan striker Dante López back from the FIFA World Youth Championship.

Realistic approach
Their coach, Roni Levy, said: "Fantasies are all good and well but we have to play at least 90 minutes against one of the best teams in Europe and this will not be easy. In fact, we are all expecting it to be extremely difficult."

Going well
Valencia occupy second place in the Primera División but their preparations have not been straightforward. Regular substitute goalkeeper Andrés Palop has been ruled out with a calf muscle injury meaning David Rangel will be Santiago Cañizares's deputy on the night. Juan Sánchez and Javier Garrido, meanwhile, have been omitted for tactical reasons.

Victory expected
Confidence is riding high, however, especially given the form of Pablo Aimar, Mista and Vicente Rodríguez. Right-back Curro Torres said: "Everything depends on us, if we put in a good game then I think we will have no trouble sealing the tie."

Landmark goal
Just one goal might do for the Spanish side and, if so, it would be a small landmark for the club. They are one short of chalking up 350 goals in European competition, although reaching Friday's third-round draw in Switzerland would be a more significant achievement.

Draw on Friday
A total of 32 teams will go into the hat for the draw at 13.00CET. Besides the winners of this game, there will be the 23 other teams to come through the second round and the eight clubs who finished third in the Champions League group stage.

Last updated: 12/12/03 10.27CET