Maccabi Tel Aviv's head coach Paulo Sousa believes the fans at Bloomfield Stadium will give his team a lift in their attempts to overturn the 1-0 deficit against FC Basel: "With their support, we can achieve our goal"
The Maccabi Tel Aviv squad woke up to morning practice at FC Basel's training ground with mixed emotions today, after losing 1-0 to Basel in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the Champions League. While they lost the match, they did put in an improved display in the second half and will try to overturn the deficit at Bloomfield Stadium with the support of the home fans. Maccabi Tel Aviv's head coach Paulo Sousa summarised his emotions after the game: "I am especially pleased with the second half. I think that we have respect for the opponent and what they have achieved in European football thus far. We have players who are unaccustomed to playing at this level and perhaps gave them too much respect. As I already said, they are a good team but when we play our game we can make things difficult for them and that's what we want to do – for 90 minutes, not just 45. We changed several things in the second half, we were fresher and had more chances, but we failed to take advantage of them. The away leg of such competitions is very important and we had the opportunity to do something with the away match but we didn't score. We must be sure to push forward in the second leg and exert pressure throughout the entire game in order to achieve our objective. With our fans, we have a chance. Basel are still the favourite, especially with their one goal advantage, but we'll try to fix that in the home game".
Defender Eitan Tibi added: "Half the tie is finished and they have a goal advantage. We'll do all we can on Tuesday to win at Bloomfield Stadium and not let our fans down". His fellow defender Carlos Garcia also talked about the "Bloomfield effect" and said: "The first half was very bad for us, but after the interval we demonstrated we could play and we were very close to scoring. I believe and trust in our abilities and with the support of the fans at Bloomfield we have a chance to advance to the next stage". Defender Omri Ben Harush, who made his debut for Maccabi, said: "I am happy I got my first run-out for Maccabi and it was truly exciting to play with my new teammates in an official game. I am sure many fans watched us on television and although those who came to see us in Basle deserve a lot of credit, I am also sure that playing for a capacity crowd at Bloomfield Stadium will give us a huge lift, to me and to the team as a whole".
After this morning's training the squad will return to Israel this afternoon and will renew team practice during the week at the Kiryat Shalom training ground in the run up to the return leg next Tuesday. The match will be broadcast from 8 pm on the Israeli sports channel Sport 1.