Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa take on their Cypriot counterparts Apollon Limassol on Wednesday, as they continue their quest for a spot in the group stage of the Champions League.
The teams kick off their third qualifying round tie at the Sammy Ofer Stadium, with the winners after next week’s second leg progressing to the playoff round, while the loserd drop into the Europa League.
Maccabi Haifa joined the qualifying process in the second round and have already made waves in this competition, knocking out Olympioakos in spectacular fashion last Wednesday.
Following a 1-1 draw in the first leg, the return in Piraeus produced perhaps the biggest upset so far this summer, with Tjaronn Chery’s goal in the fifth minute setting stage for a Frantzdy Pierrot brace and a late goal from Mohammad Abu Fani.
An impressive 5-1 aggregate victory sets Haifa up for the second last preliminary stage, as they aim to secure a group stage appearance for the first time in over a decade.
Maccabi Haifa qualified for their latest shot at the big time by securing a second successive Israeli Premier League title last season.
Preparations for their continental campaign did not run smoothly, as friendly defeats to Mechelen and Vitesse Arnhem were followed by a penalty shootout loss against Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Israeli Super Cup final.
However, Haifa will be high-flying on Wednesday following their second round exploits, so Apollon Limassol may well begin their campaign with a certain amount of anxiety.
Apollon joined the qualifying process at this third round stage, having beat AEK Larnaca to top spot in Cyprus last season, and they now mount a challenge for a first-ever Champions League group appearance.
Though they have twice made the same stage of the Europa League in the last five years, they are keen to break new ground.
Maccabi Haifa vs Apollon Limassol head to head
The two teams have not previously met on any occasion and this will be their first meeting in the first leg of their Champions League third round qualifying tie.
Maccabi Haifa latest home form
Maccabi Haifa have recently failed to keep a good run of form at home, having won just two of their five most recent matches. They drew 1-1 with Olympiakos in their last home game in the Champions League. In their last five matches, they have scored nine goals and conceded five.
Maccabi Haifa 2-0 Hapoel Haifa 19/04/22
Maccabi Haifa 1-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv 10/05/22
Maccabi Haifa 4-0 Maccabi Netanya 21/05/22
Maccabi Haifa 1-1(P) Hapoel Be’er Sheva 16/07/22
Maccabi Haifa 1-1 Olympiakos 20/07/22
Maccabi Haifa latest away form
Maccabi Haifa have recently failed to keep a good run of form on the road, having won just two of their six most recent matches. They defeated Olympiakos 4-0 in their last away game in the Champions League. In their last five matches, they have scored nine goals and conceded four.
Bnei Sakhnin 0-3 Maccabi Haifa 16/05/22
Hapoel Be’er Sheva (P)2-2 Maccabi Haifa 24/05/22
Mechelen 1-0 Maccabi Haifa 09/07/22
Vitesse 1-0 Maccabi Haifa 12/07/22
Olympiakos 0-4 Maccabi Haifa 27/07/22
Apollon Limassol latest home form
Apollon Limassol have recently failed to keep a good run of form at home, having won just one of their six most recent matches. They lost 1-0 to AEK Larnaca in their last home game in the league. In their last five matches, they have scored five goals and conceded seven.
Apollon 1-1 Anorthosis 13/03/22
Apollon 1-1 Aris Limassol 03/04/22
Apollon 0-2 Pafos 16/04/22
Apollon 3-2 APOEL 08/05/22
Apollon 0-1 AEK Larnaca 22/05/22
Apollon Limassol latest away form
Apollon Limassol have recently failed to keep a good run of form on the road, having won just one of their 10 most recent matches. They lost 1-0 to Torino in their last away game in a friendly. In their last five matches, they have scored eight goals and conceded seven.
Anorthosis 1-1 Apollon 30/04/22
Aris Limassol 1-4 Apollon 15/05/22
Doxa 1-0 Apollon 10/07/22
Mezokovesd-Zsory 3-3 Apollon 17/07/22
Torino 1-0 Apollon 27/07/22
Maccabi Haifa news
Midfielder Mahmoud Jaber sustained a thigh injury against Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Super Cup, subsequently missing both matches against Olympiakos but will hope to return this week.
In his absence, Maccabi Haifa captain Neta Lavi will join former QPR man Tjaronn Chery in the midfield of a probable 4-3-3 formation.
Apollon Limassol news
Apollon Limassol recently secured the season-long loan of Israeli U21 starlet Ido Shahar, and the Maccabi Tel Aviv academy product could feature on Wednesday.
Mathieu Peybernes has terminated his contract with Malaga to sign a three-year deal in Limassol, while Ioannis Pittas should start up front alongside French forward Bagaliy Dabo.
Prediction and Odds
Maccabi Haifa have benefited from the momentum gained by three competitve matches and are likely to take a lead into next week’s second leg.
Apollon Limassol head into the contest relatively undercooked with their aim being to avoid a huge defeat so as to mount a possible upset upon return to Cyprus.
Odds: 1 1.90 X 2.05 2 2.20
Maccabi Haifa 1-0 Apollon Limassol
Maccabi Haifa 2-0 Apollon Limassol
Maccabi Haifa 2-1 Apollon Limassol
Maccabi Haifa 3-1 Apollon Limassol
Maccabi Haifa 3-2 Apollon Limassol