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Plzeň fortress awaits Hapoel Tel-Aviv

In UEFA Europa League Group B, Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC will look to do what only FC Barcelona and FC Bayern München have managed in Europe – defeat FC Viktoria Plzeň at home.

Hapoel goalkeeper Édel Apoula collects under pressure from Plzeň's Daniel Kolář
Hapoel goalkeeper Édel Apoula collects under pressure from Plzeň's Daniel Kolář ©AFP/Getty Images

FC Viktoria Plzeň will look to take a substantial step towards the UEFA Europa League round of 32 when they play host to Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in Group B.

• Hanan Maman gave Hapoel a first-half lead when the sides met on matchday three, but Pavel Horváth and František Rajtoral struck to make it 2-1 and Hapoel's hopes all but vanished when Iyad Khutaba was sent off just after the hour.

Previous meetings
• The sides met for the first time in UEFA club competition on matchday three in what was also Plzeň's maiden meeting with Israeli opponents.

• Hapoel's four games against Czech clubs have ended W1 D2 L1 (W0 D2 L1 at home – W1 D0 L0 away).

• In total, just eight European matches have been played between Israeli and Czech clubs in UEFA competition, with the Israeli sides' record reading W2 D3 L3. 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 four games between teams representing the two nations on Israeli soil ended in two draws and two wins for the visitors: FC Slovan Liberec's 2-1 victory at Beitar Jerusalem FC in the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup preceding Plzeň's victory last time out.

Match background
• Plžen are unbeaten in six home games in Europe (two draws then four wins) since a 4-0 loss to FC Barcelona in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage. The only side apart from Barça to have beaten them at home in their 13 European matches was FC Bayern München, 1-0 in the first round of the 1971/72 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

• Plžen are yet to lose a UEFA Europa League home game, recording two draws and four wins in their six to date.

• Without a victory in this season's group stage, Hapoel are unbeaten in four European away games – two wins and two draws – scoring ten goals in the process.

Team facts
• Plzeň seem to have the best half-time team talks in the UEFA Europa League – they have scored three of their five group stage goals this season in the 15 minutes after the restart.

• Hapoel are within three goals of their 150th in UEFA club competition – this is their 102nd European fixture.

• Hapoel captain Walid Badier made his 66th UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League outing on matchday three. He is now equal fourth in the all-time competition appearance standings alongside former Belgium midfielder Enzo Scifo. If he plays in all three of his side's remaining Group B games he will join ex-FC Internazionale Milano goalkeeper Walter Zenga in third place in the rankings.

• Yossi Abuksis 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 FC 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 campaign.

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