Cruyff: We’ll give Basel the brush


Maccabi Tel Aviv will start as underdogs when they take on Basel in the Europa League round of 32, according to sporting director Jordi Cruyff.

The Israeli champions will have the chance to avenge their 4-3 aggregate defeat in the third qualifying round of the Champions League in August when they meet the Swiss outfit over two legs in February.

Cryuff said: "This is not a draw that gives us satisfaction, but that’s reality.

"We know Basel very well and there won’t be surprises. They had a great Champions League campaign — beating Chelsea twice — and there is talk of some of their players and the manager moving to bigger clubs in January. We’re not the favourites, but we’ll give 100 per cent.”

Maccabi will host the first leg on February 20, with the return in Switzerland the following week, and should
Paulo Sousa’s men progress, they will play the winners of the Ajax and Salzburg tie.

Maccabi confirmed their passage into the knock-out stages for the first time with a 1-0 home victory over Bordeaux. They claimed the runners-up spot with 11 points in Group F, four points behind Eintracht Frankfurt. Eran Zehavi’s second-half penalty cemented their third win of the campaign.

Zehavi was also match-winner a few days later, scoring the only goal in Monday’s victory over title rivals Hapoel Tel Aviv to extend Maccabi’s lead at the top of Ligat Ha’al to four points.

Maccabi Haifa finished third in Europa League Group L after beating Shakhtar Karagandy 2-1.

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