Maccabi “Shachar” Tel Aviv, the youth department’s Under-19 club is currently participating in a historic season as they are the first ever Israeli team to play in the Champions League Youth League. The young Yellow-and-Blue have played in the first round of European matches, taken flights to both Chelsea in London and Porto plus have competed in the domestic league.

On Saturday, Maccabi “Shachar” Tel Aviv will face Maccabi Haifa “Shmuel” in the Ligat “TOTO” League in one of the great Israeli matches that takes place every season. Ziv Arie’s team landed back in Israel on Wednesday night and the following AQ7A0086day were already preparing for this important home encounter that will take place at the Ramla Municipal Stadium at 12:00. Right before the team had their final training session prior to the match, the club’s central defender Idan Yogev talks about the first round of Champions League games, how the team has improved over the past few months and of course about the upcoming “Classico”:

“We feel that we’ve improved since our first Champions League game,” Yogev said. “Slowly but surely we’re learning about the physical aspects of the European clubs. After three games I can say that we are good enough to battle for one of the group’s playoff spots. Other than the match against Chelsea which is a team that is on a totally different level, we were able to play toe to toe with both Kiev and Porto who are at the same level as we are, except for their offense which is a bit more polished than ours.”

On Saturday’s Classico match:

“I think that Maccabi and Haifa are the clubs who battle year in and year out for the Youth Championship. Last year we took the title and the year before they did. I hope that this year we will win again. We will come into the match sharp and focused in order to take the three points.”

About the start of the domestic league season:

“At the end of the day the team that earns the most points from the beginning of the AQ7A9160year will win the league. Maccabi Haifa is a tough opponent and it won’t be easy against them, but we have to come into the match with confidence. We’re a team that plays in the Champions League and I hope we will show that on the pitch.”

What roles the veteran players have to take in the match:

“The whole team knows that this is a huge game and that we have to win. Myself along with Dan Glazer and Maxim Grechkin give the club quiet and confidence, we don’t go after the other players or pressure them and they know that we are here for them and not just for the match against Haifa.”

On home field advantage:

“We’re hoping that Ramla will be full of Yellow-and-Blue fans. Unfortunately there are less fans that come to Ramla who came to games at Kiryat Shalom and the fans have I understand that Ramla is now our home. In my opinion Ramla is a great place to play especially for a youth team that has a great pitch and plenty of place for the supporters. It’s the Maccabi Under-19 home stadium and I hope that we will see it packed on Saturday.”