Soccer / Haifa Arrives in Munich, Still Seeking First Goal

Feeling the pressure to score its first goal and secure its first point in the Champions League, Maccabi Haifa arrived in Germany yesterday ahead of tomorrow's match against Bayern Munich.

The team held a practice session after landing, with coach Elisha Levy focusing on getting his players mentally prepared for the game and hoping they'll be able to loosen up enough to register their first goal. "We're approaching this game like all the rest - aiming to score and win," Nir Davidovitch said before departing for Germany.

"Until now we've had [a lot of] bad luck, and there's no point in searching for explanations as to why we haven't secured a point yet," said the goalkeeper. "We'll do everything to return with points. Besides giving the maximum, there's not much else for us to do. We can't pull a Messi or Ronaldo out of a hat."

Levy has yet to decide whether to open with Shai Maimon or Jorge Teixeira alongside Dekel Keinan in defense, according to team sources. Despite the return of Eyal Golasa and John Culma from injuries, the coach does not appear ready to insert the two, fearing they have not recovered fully. He is likely to play Ali Ottman next to Biram Kayal, as he did in Haifa's match against Ahi Nazareth.

Meanwhile, Haifa hopes it can avert going down as one of the weakest team's in group stage history.

No easy opponent

Louis van Gaal, Bayern's Dutch coach, declared yesterday that "Maccabi Haifa is no easy opponent." He said that Bayern is going though a minor crisis right now, so that the German team's 3-0 victory over Haifa in Israel means nothing at this point.

"I won't make the mistake I made with Bordeaux," said van Gaal in reference to his team's 2-0 loss earlier this month to the French side, "and I won't show the players the previous game between the two teams."

Bayern not only needs to beat Haifa to stay in the picture to advance to the playoff stage; it also needs Bordeaux to lose to Juventus.