Haifa geared for big date with Bayern

Back on the big stage after a seven-year absence, Israeli titleholders Maccabi Haifa FC will play their first group-stage match on home soil when they take on FC Bayern München in their opening Group A fixture.

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.

• 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.

Match background
• Ramat Gan also hosted Haifa's 3-0 win against FC Salzburg last month to secure their place among Europe's élite – their third home victory in the qualifying rounds, following earlier successes at their Kiryat Eliazer stadium in Haifa.

• Elisha Levi's men are seeking to become the first Israeli club to progress from the group stage but Louis 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 stage.

• It was five years ago exactly – on 15 September 2004 – that Bayern dampened home hopes thanks to Roy Makaay's penalty. Bastian Schweinsteiger featured as a half-time substitute while Martín Demichelis was on the bench. Bayern ended up progressing from the section alongside Juventus – who are also in the group this time.

• 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, though only Katan played in the home defeat by Leverkusen.

• Haifa captain Katan struck his club's first-ever group-stage goal when he opened the scoring after only eight minutes of their game at Manchester United on 18 September 2002. Although Haifa went on to lose 5-2, Katan found the net again in the 3-0 home win against United and 3-3 draw at Olympiacos FC with which they closed their campaign.

• Bayern coach Van Gaal led AFC Ajax to the European title in 1995. This is the Dutchman'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.

Team ties
• 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.

• Former Bayern striker Alexander Zickler was in the Salzburg side beaten by Haifa in the play-off round.

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