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Hapoel facing Plzeň challenge

FC Viktoria Plzeň arrive in Israel for their Group B meeting with Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC with the hosts aiming to become the first Israeli club to win a home game against Czech opponents.

Tal Ben Haim II (left) and Hapoel hope to rise to the Czech challenge
Tal Ben Haim II (left) and Hapoel hope to rise to the Czech challenge ©AFP/Getty Images

Hapoel Tel-Aviv will look to become the first Israeli club to win a home game against Czech opponents as FC Viktoria Plzeň visit in UEFA Europa League Group B.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition and this is also Plzeň's first meeting with Israeli opponents.

• Hapoel's three games against Czech clubs have proved a little inconclusive, with the record W1 D2 L0 (W0 D2 L0 at home – W1 D0 L0 away).

• In total, just seven European matches have been played between Israeli and Czech clubs in UEFA competition, with the Israeli sides' record reading W2 D3 L2. Both of those victories came in away games: Hapoel's 2-1 triumph at FK Teplice in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League play-off first leg and a 5-0 win for FC Ashdod at FC Brno in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

The three games between teams representing the two nations on Israeli soil ended in two draws and a win for the visitors: FC Slovan Liberec's 2-1 victory at Beitar Jerusalem FC in the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Match background
• Hapoel lost 3-0 to holders Club Atlético de Madrid in their first Group B home game, but had won their two previous European home matches without conceding.

• Plzeň have yet to be defeated in a UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League home fixture, but have lost their last two on the road since a 2-0 win at Ruch Chorzów in this season's third qualifying round.

Team facts
Hapoel captain Walid Badier made his 65th UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League appearance on matchday two and is now fifth in the competition's all-time rankings; he will join Enzo Scifo in fourth place if he plays on matchday three and will equal third-ranked Walter Zenga in third if he features in all his side's remaining Group B fixtures.

• Hapoel midfielder Avihay Yadin turns 26 the morning after the game, while goalkeeper Boris Kleyman will turn 22.

• Hapoel are within four goals of their 150th in UEFA club competition – this is their 101st European game.

• Yossi Abukasis took over as Hapoel coach ahead of matchday two, with his predecessor Nitzan Shirazi taking up a role as the club's general manager due to health issues. Capped 35 times as a midfielder, Abukasis won a league title as a Hapoel player and two more at Beitar Jerusalem FC. He was assistant coach at Hapoel (2008–11) and took sole command at Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC in 2011/12. He is working at Hapoel in tandem with a role as assistant to Israel coach Eli Guttman.

• Pavel Vrba's career as a defender peaked with spells at RH Cheb and Baník Ostrava in the 1980s. After coaching the national Under-20 side, he was assistant to František Komňacký as Baník won the Czech title in 2004 before winning the Slovakian crown at MŠK Žilina (2006/07), and moving on to Plzeň in 2008. He won the Czech Cup in his second season and the league title in his third, in 2010/11, then marshalled their progress to the UEFA Champions League group stage the following season.

• This is FARE Action Week, with UEFA giving its support to Europe's biggest anti-discrimination campaign. There are activities before each UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League game which will be witnessed by thousands of fans in the stadiums and millions on television. A 30-second RESPECT TV spot and announcements over stadium loudspeakers will encourage fans to join the UEFA family in its call to unite against racism in football. Every team will be accompanied on to the pitch by children wearing Unite Against Racism T-shirts and captains will be asked to wear a Unite Against Racism armband.

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