Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Paulo Sousa sounded optimistic in the run up to the match against the Swiss champions FC Basel: "Recent matches have greatly increased my faith"
This morning, Maccabi Tel Aviv held thier last practice session in Israel before the game against FC Basel in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. The team will fly directly to Basle at 7:50 am tomorrow morning and is expected to land at 10:30. Updates from the team's press conference in Basle will be posted on the Maccabi Tel Aviv official website and social networks. This morning, Maccabi head coach Paulo Sousa and defender Carlos Garcia had a chance to talk to Israeli journalists about the upcoming match. The coach opened by saying that "As I've said in the past, the Champions League is a dream for all of us. We must hold on to this dream with a lot of ambition and hard work in order to bring it closer to us".
"Looking at the statistics, they are ranked 35th in UEFA and we are 176th. They will also be coming into the match with the advantage of 30 years of experience in Europe. The team have won the league championship the last four years and last season reached the Europe League semi-finals. Basel are a well-organised team, but I have a great deal of confidence in my players and from what we've seen so far, they have given me a great deal of faith. The last two matches against the Hungarian champions Gyori have given me the belief that we will produce a good display and bring the dream closer. For us, the chances are always 50-50 and we believe that if our opponents want to win, they're going to have to be much better than us".
Defender Carlos Garcia discussed the differences between the Maccabi squad now and the squad that won the title last season: "We are constantly improving, I feel that the team is stronger and I believe that it was evident in the last two games. I think we are better than we were last season and it's not just because we won the last two games. I can see it in our practise sessions and in our teamwork". The defender continued: "The Champions League is a dream, but to achieve it, we will have to work very hard and if we manage to work as hard as we did last season, I believe it will happen".
Garcia was also asked about the opponent, focusing on Basel's dominant players: "They have many important players. I might mention one specific player now and in the match itself another player will score five goals, though I hope of course that none of them will score at all. I know that they have two good forwards in the squad and they are a good side all around, but I hope that after the two games no one will remember the names of any of their players ".