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The noose is tightening around Maccabi Haifa's neck. With two matches left in the Champions League, time is running out for Haifa to score its first goal and register its first point. Coach Elisha Levy saw his players demonstrating talent in the last few games, but with no attacking results.

Haifa's fortunes must change tonight when it takes the field against Bayern Munich for Levy to avoid being remembered as the coach who took his team to Europe's highest level and returned completely empty-handed. Club officials believe Haifa can exploit Bayern's recent slump - the team has not won in the Bundesliga in a month and is third in Group A - and put up a fight for third place.

"The balance of forces is clear despite Bayern's troubles," said Levy yesterday during a press conference in Munich. "As long as there's a chance, we're thinking about third place. It's the hardest away game in the group."

Captain Yaniv Katan added: "There's no pressure on the team to score. We have an attacking team, which needs to and is able to score."

While Bayern is taking the match seriously, this evening is particularly critical for coach Louis van Gaal. A Bayern executive denied rumors that the club would fire van Gaal soon, but the Dutchman doesn't want to push his luck.