Lionel Messi to head for Israel as PSG qualifies alongside Maccabi Haifa in Champions league

Maccabi Haifa's group includes PSG, Juventus and Benfica


Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi gestures during the French L1 football match between Lille OSC and Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Villeneuve-d'Asq, northern France on August 21, 2022. (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP via Getty Images)

Several footballing stars will soon head to Israel following the announcement of the UEFA Champions League group stage on Thursday.

Sporting legends such as Lionel Messi, Adrien Rabiot and Nicolas Otamendi will feature among the slew of top teams Haifa is set to play.

Maccabi Haifa FC qualified for the competition’s group stage for the first time since 2012, after tying with Red Star Belgrade.

In its 2009-10 season the team lost all six of its games, including against top teams Bayern Munich and Juventus, and scored zero goals.

Haifa’s squad includes the likes of Haitian forward Frantzdy Pierrot, who was previously drafted for US team Colorado Rapids and has previously appeared for Reading. Other talent comprises Israeli captain Neta Lavi and striker Ben Sahar, along with Nigerian midfielder Ali Mohamed and American goalkeeper Joshua Cohen. 

It will be a difficult road ahead for Haifa, who are set to face off against some of Europe’s best teams.

The Israeli Premier League team will face stellar squads such as Paris Saint-German, whose roster includes award-winning Argentine forward Lionel Messi along with — as well as Brazilian winger Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Meanwhile, the Turin-based Juventus boast players such as Rabiot and Juan Cuadrado.

However, the Haifa team and its fans are unsurprisingly excited for the competition. Omer Atzili has already acquiesced to a fan request to exchange shirts with Messi and Neymar.

“T-shirts for us, please. Messi and Neymar,” the Haifa attacker posted to his Instagram story, Sports Brief reported.

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