Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv will start their journey in Europe today (Thursday). Haifa will be hosted by Rennes in France (19:45 Israel time) as part of the European League. Tel Aviv will host the Icelandic Breiðablik (22:00 Israel time) in the Conference League tournament.
Messay Dego: "I hope it will be difficult for them too"
Haifa's coach, Messay Dego, did not practice the lineup yesterday for fear of spying by the French, but he is expected to make several changes to the lineup compared to the one he started against Maccabi Petah Tikva, in which they lost 3-2. Lior Refaelov, who is suffering from pain in his lower back, and Dolev Haziza, who is recovering from an injury, will not be in the squad for the game.
Yesterday, Dego commented on the differences in level between the teams: "We know that we are meeting a strong team, but our club has proven in recent years that other clubs respect us and we will do everything to win. We are Maccabi Haifa, I have a lot of respect for Rennes, and I know it will be difficult for us, but I hope it'll be hard for them too".
"This club (Rennes) exports players to the biggest teams in Europe, they exported players to Manchester City and Real Madrid, and brought up Dembele. A Truly an amazing youth department, which I have known for several years. Even today most of the staff are young and talented players who will be their next sales".
Rennes's coach, Bruno Genesio, commented on Maccabi Haifa at Rennes's press conference: "This is a team that is used to this type of games and it caused a lot of problems last year in Paris in the Champions League. This is a team that is made up of good players, especially in midfield. Intelligent players who handle the ball well and have a striker we know, Frantzdy Pierrot. This is a dangerous team that will cause us problems."
Robbie Keane: "There are no easy games in football"
Maccabi Tel Aviv will come to the game against Breiðablik as the favorite and hope not to stumble in the first stage of the Conference League. Nir Biton, who was injured in the game against Maccabi Bnei Reineh, will not play and his place will be taken by Enric Saborit. A player who will be on the roster for the game is Roy Revivo, who will miss his brother's wedding who is getting married at the same time.
At the press conference before the game, the team's coach, Robbie Keane, said: "For me, it's always the next game, not what will happen in the future, what's in front of me is only the game tomorrow. It will be a tough game, they won the championship last season, and they like to press. It's sure to be a physical and strong game, you have to be good to reach the group stages. We prepare for them as much as possible, we see a lot of their games, every game is a difficult game, there are no easy games in football."
Breiðablik's coach, Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson: "Maccabi is a strong team, very team-oriented. They have good players in the attack, especially Felicio Milson and Eran Zahavi. We respect Maccabi, but we are not afraid. We will have to show our best ability to achieve something." This will be the Icelanders' first-ever appearance at a European venue.