In an exclusive interview in the festive match programme for Maccabi Tel Aviv's Europa League home tie against APOEL Nicosia, defender Carlos Garcia talks about his European dream

Defender Carlos Garcia has risen to the heights of the ambitions of an Israeli football player. Not that he was unhappy at clubs like Almeria, Real Betis or Espanyol, but there the European dream was always somewhere in the background, far beyond his grasp. "If you're not playing for one of the big clubs, you don't get into the European competitions. That's the way it is in La Liga", Garcia told us in a festive European interview that will appear in full in the match programme for Maccabi Tel Aviv's Europa League group stage home tie against Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia. Naturally the defender had hoped to make his European presence felt on the main stage of the Champions League, but he feels no great sense of loss at appearing in the group stage of the Europa League. "The level of football in the Europa League is very good, we saw for ourselves how difficult it is to get to the group stage, not to mention the fact that after the group stage, clubs eliminated from the Champions League will be joining the competition."

Match programmes will appear at all of Maccabi Tel Aviv's three home matches in the group stage of the Europa League, with the first edition available this Thursday at the opener against APOEL.  This is a programme that collectors, in particular, will not want to miss and represents an historic memento from Maccabi's appearances in the competition's group stage. Along with the interview with Carlos Garcia, the programme will include an introduction to the Cypriot opponents and a "scouting" report on their most significant players. You'll also find a poster of the fixture schedule of Maccabi's group F, and a list of all the first round matches of the Europa League. The programme, costing just five shekels, will be on sale before the match near the entrances to the terraces and at the official Maccabi Tel Aviv Shop outlets next to gates 4-5 and 10-11.