Maccabi Haifa vs Ventspils by DamirJ
Maccabi Haifa didn't manage to win the first leg, although they were clearly better in comparison to Ventpsils and should have easily get even two goals margin victory. However, after a goalless draw in the first leg, they want a victory that will progress them to the next round without any doubts.
Israeli side is in the third round as they progressed over Khazar Lankaran in the previous phase, winning 2:0 at home, while they scored amazing 8:0 victory away, result that is a record for all Israeli teams. Their championship is slowly to start, near the end of August and this is disadvantage for Israeli teams, but in no case can be excuse, as Maccabi is quite experienced team in European competitions. In last ten years, they have twice played in the Champions League and two times more in Europa League, making them very experienced side for a third qualifying round of Europa League. Also, participation in the group stage this season is the minimum target for them this season too. Home side has no injury worries for this game, while the team prepared under the best possible conditions and will have a help from a lot of fans.
Ventpsils, on the other side, had to start from the first qualifying round of competitions where they started with disappointing performances, but still managed to progress over Airbus from Wales on a away goal rule. First leg in Wales ended as a 1:1 result, while goalless draw in the second leg was enough for them to achieve the second round.
In the second round, they were favorites again and rules out Jeunesse Esch from Luxembrough with two victories, 1:0 at home and 4:1 away from home. Runners-up of the last Latvian championship didn't play the last weekend in order to be better prepared for the tonight's game. They are currently located at the third position in domestic league, while the primary goal is to repeat the success of 2011, when they won the championship. There are no reported problems neither from their club, while the coach showed satisfaction with the performance of his players in the first match.
First leg has ended as a goalless draw, but Maccabi showed clear superiority even in this one. At home, they are even bigger force and everything but an easy victory for Israelis, who should remove any doubt even after the half-time would be a huge surprise.