Slavia Praha v Maccabi Tel-Aviv background

Slavia have struggled for goals at home in Europe of late, and will need to be on their guard as they welcome Maccabi Tel-Aviv in their Group A opener.

Slavia celebrate a goal in qualifying
Slavia celebrate a goal in qualifying ©Vlastimil Vacek

#EQUALGAME
This week, football fans watching UEFA Europa League matches in stadiums, online and on TV will witness the premiere of the new UEFA RESPECT TV ads, called #EqualGame. The adverts feature Ada Hegerberg, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo and amateur players and will run throughout the season to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in European Football with the motto "Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you're from, or how you play." More information on the campaign and on the advertisements can be found in the accompanying media release and on the campaign website: www.equalgame.com.

Slavia Praha have struggled for goals at home in Europe of late, and will need to be on their guard as they welcome Maccabi Tel-Aviv in their UEFA Europa League Group A opener.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, and it is Slavia's first encounter with Israeli opponents.

• In their only past meeting with Czech opposition, Maccabi eliminated Viktoria Plzeň in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, losing 2-1 at home but winning 2-0 away en route to reaching the group stage.

Form guide
• Czech champions Slavia have not conceded in their two European home games this season – a 1-0 win against BATE and 0-0 draw with APOEL in UEFA Champions League qualifying – yet they have scored only once in their last four UEFA matches at Eden Arena (0-0, 0-3, 1-0, 0-0).

• Maccabi are now unbeaten in nine European fixtures (W8 D1), including all eight of their UEFA games this season (W7 D1). In fact, they have won their four 2017/18 continental away matches without conceding (3-0, 2-0, 1-0, 1-0), including last time out at play-off rivals Altach.

• Edged out by APOEL in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, Slavia made it through the UEFA Cup group stage in 2005/06, falling short in 2008/09, but fell short in their only previous UEFA Europa League group campaign of 2009/10.

• Maccabi have progressed from the first qualifying round to the UEFA Europa League group stage for a second straight season. They were league and cup runners-up in Israel last term.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Tel Aviv to Prague is around 2,600km.

• Slavia's Ruslan Rotan played for Dnipro in their 2015 UEFA Europa League final defeat by Sevilla; goalkeeper Jan Lastůvka was an unused substitute for the Ukrainians.

• Slavia keeper Přemysl Kovář played in Israel with Hapoel Haifa (2014–16).

• Maccabi are one of three teams to have come all the way from first qualifying round to group stage this season, along with Crvena zvezda and Skënderbeu.

The coaches
• A Czechoslovak league runner-up in 1992/93 as a Slavia midfielder, Jaroslav Šilhavý returned to the club after a 22-year absence in September 2016. Having won the Czech crown as Liberec boss in 2011/12, he triumphed again with Slavia in 2017.

• Jordi Cruyff took over as Maccabi boss in 2017 after five years as the club's sporting director. The son of Dutch great Johan Cruyff, he played for Barcelona and Manchester United and reached the 2001 UEFA Cup final with Alavés.