Maccabi Haifa Loses to Benfica as Champion League Kicks Off2 min read
On Tuesday night, Benfica, the Portuguese squad defeated the Maccabi Haifa soccer team 2-0, with the latter starting its Champion’s League campaign the same place it had left.
It had been unable to score a goal the previous time it had made it to the group stages of the leading football tournament in Europe.
The Maccabi Haifa team is faced with long odds because it has found itself in a group that not only includes Benfica, but also the Italian powerhouse Juventus and the super-start heavy Paris Saint Germain.
Even though it managed to keep pace with Benfica for the better part of the match, it was still unable to score, while Benfica managed to land two goals one after the other not long after halftime.
The last time the Israeli squad had managed to reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League had been in the 2009-2010 season.
At that time, it had become the first team to not be able to score a single goal in all of the six matches it played.
The match with Benfica had been regarded as the best chance Haifa would have for an upset, even though the Portuguese team has won the Champions League trophy twice.
The match took place at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon and for the first half, the Portuguese squad was mostly off-balance because of the Maccabi defense.
The latter only allowed the former to land one shot on target. But, things changed rather quickly in the second half as the 49th minute saw a goal from Rafa Silva.
The Benfica striker was assisted by Alejandro Grimaldo and managed to get past Josh Cohen. Three minutes later, Maccabi got the opportunity to score.
However, the shot from Tjaronn Chery soared a bit too high and it was only moments later that the game slipped from their reach, as Grimaldo scored a shot just under the crossbar.
Barak Bakhar, the manager of Maccabi, admitted that the fast-paced attack from Benfica was tough for them to handle, as the latter was a ‘better team’.
He said that even though they did have chances, they did not take advantage because they were not used to the pace.
But, he added that they would make some changes and would be prepared for the next match.
The next game
The next chance for Maccabi to put the ball in the net, or even win, would be against PSG. They will host the French squad on September 14th.
The match will take place in the bay city at the Sammy Ofer Stadium and will bring star players like Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
On Tuesday, Mbappe scored two goals to defeat Juventus 2-1, thereby kicking off a campaign for PSG that many have predicted might end with the first Champion Leagues trophy for the club.
The next several months will see the top two teams in each group playing against each other in order to advance.