Maccabi Tel Aviv has a chance to make history, but it won’t be easy. As coach Slavisa Jokanovic has said all along to make it to these levels in European football you’ll have to beat the best to compete with the best. In Maccabi’s case that will be one FC Basel, a team that the Yellow-and-Blue are very familiar with.
Is it the same Basel squad that Maccabi and its supporters have seen in four matches just two short years ago? No, it’s not. But it’s still a very good club with plenty of rising stars and professionals that have already begun their season undefeated. Is Maccabi up for the task? Will Maccabi be able to win a game at St. Jakob Park, a place that they have lost 1:0 and 3:0 the last couple of times they’ve visited Switzerland?
It really depends on the Maccabi team that will show up.
If it’s the Maccabi that played flawless football against Plzen in the Czech Republic or the Maccabi that played against Hibernians at Bloomfield Stadium, then yes, Maccabi can come away with a victory.
Should the Maccabi that showed up against Hibernians in Malta or the one that played Plzen at Bloomfield then there’s no chance.
I’m willing to throw out the Toto Cup matches as well as the Champions Cup game against Kiryat Shemona, because Champions League qualifying is a totally different animal. However, those matches should still raise the questions of, “Is Maccabi good enough to make it past a team like Basel?”
On paper the logical football analyst will say, there’s absolutely no way, no chance that Maccabi can defeat Basel away. How could they? But then again, do they really need to defeat Basel in this first leg?
A draw of any score other than 0:0 puts the ball in Maccabi’s court due to away goals. 1:1, 2:2, 3:3 (one can dream and yes we’ve seen these two club hit that score before) would be highly beneficial.
As coach Jokanovic finished his press conference he said the following: “Maccabi Tel Aviv have not arrived here for a holiday. I believe in my team and I’m an optimist. We will work hard to make it into the Champions League.
We must be very proud of the club to have the chance to play in the Champions League and it’s one of the most amazing competitions in the world. These can be very important days ahead of us.”
I don’t think he could have said it any better.