Proud Hapoel out to derail determined Benfica

Coach Eli Gutman is sure eliminated Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC "won't let anyone down" against SL Benfica, whose coach Jorge Jesus is adamant that his side "have to win" in Israel.

Proud Hapoel out to derail determined Benfica
Proud Hapoel out to derail determined Benfica ©

Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC may have been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League on Matchday 4 despite registering their first point but they are determined to build on that scoreless draw against FC Schalke 04 when SL Benfica come calling. The Eagles reignited their qualification hopes by defeating the Group B leaders Olympique Lyonnais the same night and are well aware that three more points are vital in Israel.

Eli Gutman, Hapoel coach
It's our last home game in this campaign and we want to put in a performance that will make our fans happy. Some people here think that Lyon are the best team in this group, but I think it's Benfica and that they'll come here fighting to win. They're an experienced team who like to pass the ball around. The Porto result [Benfica lost 5-0 away on 7 November] will have no bearing on this match so we can't draw any conclusions from that. We all make mistakes and have to learn from them, and I'm sure we won't let anyone down tomorrow.

Jorge Jesus, Benfica coach
It's a very important game for Benfica and our last away tie in the section, so we have to win this one. We know Hapoel are very strong at home; they almost beat Schalke, so we'll need to be at our best to win this match. We won't change our style from the league to the Champions League, but we do have a plan B in case that's needed. I'm not interested in the Lyon-Schalke game, only this one. All my players are aware of its importance and the goals we've set for ourselves.

Team news
Avihay Yadin (knee), Eran Zahavi (ankle) and Omri Kende (ankle) are doubts, while captain Walid Badir is likely to start on the bench due to a hamsting injury although Etey Shechter is likely to be preferred to Ben Sahar up front after shrugging off a similar problem. Avihay Yadin hurt his knee in training last week, while Salim Toama is nursing a muscle tear. Mahran Lala (knee) and Romain Rocchi (groin) remain long-term absentees.

Óscar Cardozo returned to full training last week after recovering from knee ligament damage that has kept him out since Matchday 2, while Fábio Coentrão sat out Portugal's friendly against Spain last week because of a right knee injury. Both trained on Tuesday in Israel and are available. Jesus said: "Cardozo hasn't played for the last two months, so I will only decide whether he starts closer to the match."

Weekend results
20/11/10 Bnei Sakhnin FC 1-3 Hapoel
(Danalache 67; Tamuz 74 86, Zahavi 77)
Hapoel gained their first victory against Bnei Sakhnin in three attempts this term having lost twice to their opponents in the League Cup.

Benfica's Portuguese Cup fourth round fixture at home to SC Braga, scheduled for 20 November, was postponed due to the NATO summit which took place in Lisbon on 19 and 20 November. The tie will now be held on 12 December.

Did you know?
Both the previous two Israeli teams to compete in the UEFA Champions League group stage, Maccabi Haifa FC in 2004/05 and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC last season, finished bottom of their section. No team from that country has managed to win a group match in the competition proper in 12 attempts; the last victors were Maccabi Tel-Aviv, 2-1 winners against AFC Ajax on 3 November 2004.

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