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Hapoel hit the glory trail at Benfica

Only the third team from Israel to take part in the UEFA Champions League, Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC make their bow at SL Benfica, who are former winners of Europe's most prestigious competition.

Hapoel hit the glory trail at Benfica
Hapoel hit the glory trail at Benfica ©UEFA.com

Newcomers Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC begin their first UEFA Champions League campaign with a testing trip to SL Benfica, whose rich continental pedigree includes triumphs in the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1961 and 1962.

Previous meetings
• This is the first time the sides have faced each other in UEFA competition and is Hapoel's debut experience of Portuguese opposition. Benfica have only met an Israeli team on one previous occasion, recording a 8-4 aggregate victory against Beitar Jerusalem FC in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, a result which included a 6-0 home triumph in the first leg.

• Portuguese clubs have faced Israeli opposition in six ties and came off second best on only one occasion. That came in last season's UEFA Europa League third qualifying round as Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC beat FC Paços de Ferreira 1-0 in both games.

Match background
• Hapoel became only the third Israeli team to reach the group stage with a 4-3 play-off aggregate win against FC Salzburg, a triumph that had its foundation in a 3-2 away win in the first leg. Eli Gutman's side had earlier edged past FK Aktobe 3-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round, losing the away leg 1-0, while at the previous stage they had defeated FK Željezničar 6-0, winning 1-0 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

• Both Hapoel and Benfica competed in last season's UEFA Europa League, the Portuguese team making it to the quarter-finals and Hapoel going out in the round of 32. The Israeli champions lost three of their four away games in the competition proper, conceding nine goals in the process, although they did also record a 3-0 victory at SK Rapid Wien en route to the knockout rounds.

• Benfica, who are returning to the UEFA Champions League after a two-year absence and have five previous participations in the competition, showed impressive home form in their run to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals where they lost to Liverpool FC. They won all three games in the group stage in Lisbon, with a goal difference of 9-1, while in the knockout rounds they posted two more home wins and a 1-1 draw.

• In their last UEFA Champions League campaign in 2007/08, in which they finished third in the group, the Portuguese champions began with a 2-1 away defeat by AC Milan. In their home games they lost 1-0 against FC Shakhtar Donetsk before beating Celtic FC 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with Milan.

Team ties
• Benfica striker Nuno Gomes scored a late penalty in the 6-0 win against Beitar in the home leg on 12 August 1998 and also opened the scoring in the Lisbon club's 4-2 away defeat in the return.