Israeli giants Maccabi Haifa will be hard-pressed to stop the Paris Saint-Germain juggernaut that looks nigh on unstoppable this season.
Israeli giants Maccabi Haifa have enjoyed little luck in Europe’s top competition of late. They now face another indomitable challenge against defending Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.
The French giants arrive at the Sammy Ofer Stadium on the back of a series of results that has seen them romp past most opposition. There should be little change in the script in Matchday 2 of this season’s UEFA Champions League.
The Israeli giants have impressed in their domestic league but have historically struggled to make a name for themselves in Europe’s top competition. Their first outing in the competition for 13 years ended with a 2-0 defeat to Benfica
Barak Bakhar’s side have had their moments this season, especially in the 4-0 rout over Olympiacos in the qualifying stages. Maccabi Haifa also held their own in the first half against Benfica before being handed a sucker punch after the break. While they will hope to put up a fight against PSG, especially at home, the visitors’ quality should, in the end, make the difference.
PSG will hope to pull away and secure qualification to the Last 16 as quickly as possible. With Juventus and Benfica taking on each other, this represents a golden opportunity for the French outfit to consolidate the top spot in the group. As long as they are not cowed by the home side’s atmosphere, Christophe Galtier and co. could be set for another familiar day in the office.
The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might deploy.
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— Maccabi Haifa FC (@mhfootballclub) September 12, 2022
Maccabi Haifa go into the game sans the injured duo of Mahmoud Jaber and Suf Podgoreanu. Raz Meir is another player who has a 50-50 chance of making the matchday squad on the night.
Barak Bakhar has an otherwise full-strength side to choose from for the game. He is likely to deploy his side in a 3-5-2 formation that will, to an extent, ape PSG’s setup on the night. Josh Cohen should start in goal behind the back three of Abdoulaye Seck, Dylan Batubinsika and Sean Goldberg.
The trio could struggle to keep up with PSG’s indomitable front three, forcing wing-backs Daniel Sundgren and Dolev Haziza to drop back and revert to a 5-3-2 formation. The midfield trio of Tjaronn Chery, Neta Lavi and Mohammad Abu Fani will have a big job on their hands to neutralise Marco Verratti and Vitinha’s grip in central midfield.
Doing so will ensure that the striker duo of Frantzdy Pierrot and Dean David will have opportunities to cling on to against an experienced but at times naive PSG backline.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Cohen; Seck, Batubinsika, Goldberg; Sundgren, Chery, Lavi, Fani, Haziza; Pierrot, David
PSG will be without senior defender Presnel Kimpembe, who injured himself in the win over Brest at the weekend. Apart from Renato Sanches, who faces a late fitness test, Christophe Galtier has an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from with several options available.
He is unlikely to deviate from the 3-4-3 formation that has brought the best out of his attacking trio. PSG have suffocated opposing teams the last few weeks by attacking them relentlessly, and another fast start could set the ball rolling on the night.
Gianluigi Donnarumma appears to have rediscovered his touch and should start between the sticks. Sergio Ramos will keep his position in the back three with Danilo Pereira and Marquinhos coming into the playing XI. The rearguard has both experience and the ability to thwart a comparatively inferior opposition attack.
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🏟 Sammy Ofer Stadium pic.twitter.com/0qVeCrQGu3
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 12, 2022
Achraf Hakimi looks set to continue at right wing-back with Nuno Mendes coming in for Juan Bernat on the opposite wing. Marco Verratti and Vitinha have been the cornerstone of PSG’s midfield dominance, and Galtier is unlikely to drop the duo unless otherwise forced to.
The front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe more or less picks itself and could be the deciding factor in the game. Mbappe and Neymar have reportedly not been on the best of terms of late, and it remains to be seen how the duo get along on the field.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Donnarumma; Ramos, Pereira, Marquinhos; Hakimi, Vitinha, Verratti, Mendes; Messi, Neymar, Mbappe
- Maccabi Haifa and PSG have both played each other just twice, in the first round of the 1998/99 Cup Winners Cup. PSG are yet to beat Maccabi Haifa (D1 L1), and a win on the night will see them break the duck.
- Maccabi Haifa last faced a Ligue 1 side in the UEFA Champions League in 2008/09 where they lost both games against Bordeaux.
- Maccabi Haifa are currently on a seven-game losing streak in the UEFA Champions League. They are one more loss away from equalling Dinamo Zagreb’s record eight-game losing streak.
- PSG have failed to win their last five away games in the UEFA Champions League. PSG have failed to keep a clean sheet in an away game in the competition since 2020 at Istanbul Basaksehir, a run of nine games.
- Scoring on the night will see PSG equal Real Madrid’s record of finding the back of the net in 40 consecutive group stage games.
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The French superstar has been one of PSG’s in-form players this season and has already bagged himself nine goals from seven games. He is coming off a frustrating night against Brest that saw him not just squander several goalscoring opportunities but also deny his teammates a couple of pops on target.
Mbappe will be keen to set the record straight and return to goalscoring ways against Maccabi Haifa. He found the back of the net twice in PSG’s group stage opener against Juventus but lost steam following a crunching tackle from Gleison Bremer. With Neymar and Lionel Messi in top form, Mbappe will be keen to not get left behind and should come out all guns firing.
Maccabi Haifa 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain
Maccabi Haifa might be playing at home, but PSG’s quality should prove too difficult for them to deal with. Christophe Galtier’s side is yet to face defeat this season and are unlikely to end that run in the Sammy Ofer Stadium.
Not only are PSG likely to end their five-game losing streak in away games in the competition but also hand Maccabi Haifa the unenviable record of having lost the most games in the competition in a row. Anything less than a convincing win for the visitors should raise eyebrows.