Maccabi Haifa boss Elisha Levy believes his team can cause a major shock when they travel to Turin on Wednesday in the Champions League for a meeting with Juventus.
First, the Israeli champions return to league action against Hapoel Beer Sheva on Saturday before travelling to Italy, looking to record their first victory of the Group A campaign.
Yet to score in this season’s competition, defeats against Bayern Munich and Bordeaux have left them rooted to the foot of the table.
Ahead of the visit to the two-time winners, Levy said: “This is a team with a marvellous spirit. We are improving from game to game and I believe that we can get a result against Juventus.”
Defeat would make it tough for Haifa to repeat their achievement of 2002, the only other time they played in the Champions League, when they finished third in their group and progressed to the Uefa Cup.
But they will benefit from the fact that Israel manager Dror Kashtan overlooked most of their players for international duty, including captain Yaniv Katan, even though Haifa lead the way at the top of Israel’s Premier League, where they have a 100 per cent record from five games.
With three points from two games, Hapoel Tel Aviv host Rapid Vienna in the Europa League. Having beaten Celtic in their opening match, Hapoel were well beaten in Hamburg and will be wary of a team that knocked Aston Villa out of the competition and beat Hamburg in their first group game. Although captain Walid Badir is suspended, manager Eli Gutman remains confident of victory. “We will have a top two finish in our sights if we can win this game, and we can win this game.”