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Maccabi Haifa prepare for PAOK visit

Maccabi Haifa FC will look to kick-start their UEFA Europa League Group L bid with a first win as PAOK FC come to Israel on a run of three straight 1-1 draws on their European travels.

Maccabi Haifa's Eyal Golasa takes on PAOK's Alexandros Tziolis
Maccabi Haifa's Eyal Golasa takes on PAOK's Alexandros Tziolis ©AFP/Getty Images

Maccabi Haifa FC are bottom of UEFA Europa League Group L going into their matchday four encounter with section leaders PAOK FC, but all is not yet lost for the Israeli club.

Previous meetings
• PAOK won 3-2 when the sides met for the first time on matchday three. Maccabi Haifa raced into a 2-0 lead, but PAOK struck back to level by half-time, before Dimitris Salpingidis struck the winner on 67 minutes.

• Maccabi Haifa's five matches against Greek clubs have ended W1 D1 L3 (W1 D0 L1 at home – though both games were played in Nicosia, Cyprus, because of security concerns – W0 D1 L2 in Greece).

• PAOK's seven games against Israeli sides have ended W4 D1 L2 (W3 D0 L1 at home – W1 D1 L1 in Israel).

Match background
• This is Maccabi Haifa's third attempt at the group stage. They reached the round of 16 on their UEFA Cup group stage debut in 2006/07 but did not advance to the knockout stage in 2011/12.

• Maccabi Haifa won all three of their home games in qualifying without conceding, but that unbeaten run ended with a 1-0 loss to AZ Alkmaar on matchday one.

• PAOK replaced FC Metalist Kharkiv in the UEFA Champions League play-offs after the Ukrainian side, who had beaten PAOK in the third qualifying round, were excluded from Europe. They lost 4-3 on aggregate to FC Schalke 04 but moved into the UEFA Europa League for what is their fourth group campaign; they failed to progress in 2005/06 but made it to the round of 32 in 2010/11 and 2011/12.

• PAOK have drawn 1-1 in all three of their European away games this season.

Team facts
• PAOK had 24 shots on target over the first three matchdays – more than any other club in this season's group stage.

• PAOK set a new competition landmark when Salpingidis struck their added-time equaliser at Alkmaar on matchday two; the 1-1 draw was their seventh successive away fixture in the UEFA Europa League without defeat, surpassing the previous record shared with Club Atlético de Madrid, FC Porto and Fenerbahçe SK.

• Salpingidis has made 64 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League appearances; he is now level with Mladen Petrić in sixth place in the all-time appearances table. Three more in the group stage would leave the 32-year-old level with Walid Badier in fourth place in the all-time standings.

• Three of Maccabi Haifa's current players have represented Greek clubs: Edin Cocalić (Panionios GSS), Rayo (Asteras Tripolis FC) and Shimon Abuhazira (Larissa FC).

Coach information
• Israel's most capped player, with 94 international appearances, former defender Arik Benado has been coach of Maccabi Haifa since November 2012, having won seven of his nine domestic titles with the club – the other two coming during a spell at Beitar Jerusalem FC. After retiring at the end of 2010/11, Benado returned to the club that his father Shlomo had also played for as a youth coach before being given the first-team job.

• PAOK coach since June 2013, Huub Stevens won the UEFA Cup as a player with PSV Eindhoven in 1977/78 and as FC Schalke 04 coach in 1996/97. A defender, he spent his best years as a player with PSV, whom he later coached. Schalke fans named him as their coach of the century in 1999, and he also held the reins at 1. FC Koln, Hamburger SV and FC Salzburg before embarking on a second, less successful stint with Schalke in 2011.

• Stevens is one of four coaches in the group stage to have had his hands on the trophy before. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk's Juande Ramos (Sevilla FC, 2006 & 2007), AZ Alkmaar's Dick Advocaat (FC Zenit, 2008) and Tottenham Hotspur FC manager André Villas-Boas (FC Porto, 2011) are the others.

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