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Haifa geared for big date with Bayern

Coach Elisha Levi was adamant that FC Bayern München would not see the Israeli champions as "a minor event" as Maccabi Haifa FC geared up for their first group-stage game in seven years.

Haifa geared for big date with Bayern
Haifa geared for big date with Bayern ©UEFA.com

Maccabi Haifa FC will play their first UEFA Champions League group-stage match on home soil when they take on FC Bayern München, beaten quarter-finalists last term, in their opening Group A fixture.

Elisha Levi, Haifa coach
I don't think that Bayern see us as a minor event; at this level there is a lot of respect between teams. I know we respect Bayern a lot. We are competing in the Champions League because we want to play against the best. We had a place in the UEFA Europa League in our grasp but we wanted better. We are going to keep playing the game we have always played. First of all we have to believe, and secondly we must be professional; we have the honor of playing in Europe and we will do our best.

Louis van Gaal, Bayern coach
Bayern always expect to win. Our scouts have seen Maccabi Haifa twice and I watched the videos on the plane. Maccabi are aggressive attackers but many teams are more careful when they play against Bayern. I think in two or three years we can win the Champions League, but it will take a lot of hard work of course. Every team has a chance and the proof is that we have lost to smaller teams in Bundesliga.

Key stats
• This is Haifa's second appearance in the UEFA Champions League proper but in 2002/03 they played home matches at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, Cyprus, so Bayern can expect a warm reception at Tel-Aviv's Ramat Gan stadium.

• Levi's men are seeking to become the first Israeli club to progress from the group stage but Van Gaal's Bayern are unlikely to be daunted having played at the Ramat Gan once before – beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC 1-0 in the 2004/05 group stageon 15 September 2004.

• In Haifa's previous UEFA Champions League campaign of 2002/03, the first for any Israeli club, They lost home (0-2) and away (1-2) to Bayer 04 Leverkusen, eventually finishing third behind Manchester United FC and Leverkusen. There are two survivors of that campaign in Haifa's squad: Yaniv Katan and Alon Harazi.

• Bayern's Miroslav Klose scored a 15-minute hat-trick for Germany in a 7-1 victory against Israel in Kaiserslautern in February 2002. Harazi and Haifa's technical manager Adoram Keisi both featured in that well-beaten Israel team, Keisi starting at left-back and Harazi coming on as a late substitute.

Team news
Out: Tiago Dutra (knee)
Suspended: Jhon Culma Jairo serves a one-game ban
Misses next match if booked: none

Out: Luca Toni (achilles), Martín Demichelis (torn ankle ligaments), Mark van Bommel (broken toe), Andreas Görlitz (ruptured thigh muscle)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: none

Weekend results
12/09/09 Haifa 3-1 Hapoel Ramat-Gan FC
(Golasa 30, Dvalishvili 45, Arbeitman 85; Kovacević 17)

12/09/09 BV Borussia Dortmund 1-5 Bayern
(Hummels 10; Gómez 36, Schweinsteiger 50, Ribéry 65, Müller 78 88)

Did you know?
This is Bayern coach Van Gaal's first match in the UEFA Champions League since he oversaw a run of ten straight wins with FC Barcelona in the first half of 2002/03.