By Bryan Kondrup
With tomorrow’s match against PSG, Maccabi Haifa are arriving at Parc des Princes with their heads held high. On October 11th, Maccabi Haifa defeated F.C. defeated Juventus F.C., recording their first win in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) since beating Greek side Olympiakos in 2002. Maccabi overran Juventus from the start, netting the first goal in the seventh minute. French left-back Pierre Cornud played in a cross to Israeli winger Omer Atzili, who headed the ball to the bottom right corner and past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Things got worse for Juventus from there with one of their stars when Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria had to exit the game with a hamstring injury in the 24th minute. A few minutes before halftime, Atzili struck again with a left-footed shot into the top right corner, assisted by Haitian forward Frantzdy Pierrot after a fast break. That score remained until the end of the match, despite Haifa outshooting Juventus 14 to 10. American goalkeeper Josh Cohen saved all five of Juventus’ shots on target, securing the win for the Israeli team.
Up next for Haifa F.C. is a trip to Paris on Tuesday, the 25th, for their second match against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). The Parisian side is filled with star players, and are one of the favorites to win this year's tournament. With attacking threats from French ace Kylian Mbappe, Brazilian star Neymar, and seven-time Ballon D’or winner Argentinian Lionel Messi, Haifa will have their work cut out for them. Maccabi will hope for a start similar to their last, finding the back of the net early and holding onto a lead from there.
Viewers should keep an eye on Atzili, who is hoping to replicate his success from Haifa’s last UCL match, as well as Surinamese international Tjaronn Chery, who scored against PSG in Haifa’s 1-3 loss in the earlier competition.
With S.L. Benfica and PSG tied with eight points, and Juventus and Haifa tied with three, there is still a chance for Haifa to advance to the knockout round. A win or draw tomorrow, and a similar result against Benfica would put them in a good position, depending on the result of the Benfica and Juventus match. At the very least, Haifa has a great chance of finishing third and dropping into the UEFA Europa League, where they can still vie for a European title.
Maccabi Haifa plays PSG Tuesday, October 25th at 3:00 PM EST, with the game being available for US viewers on Paramount+.