Benfica v Hapoel Tel Aviv: Preview

14 September 2010 01:31
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is hoping his team can capitalise on Hapoel Tel Aviv's unfamiliarity with Portuguese football when the teams meet in their Champions League Group B opener.

The Israeli champions head to the Estadio da Luz having never before faced Portuguese opposition in UEFA competition, and Jesus is keen to make the most of that.

"The opponent does not know us so well as the Portuguese teams," he said.

"We want to take advantage of it."

Jesus has a doubt over Eduardo Salvio after the on-loan Atletico Madrid winger, who did not feature in Friday's 2-1 loss at Guimaraes because of muscle pains, missed training on Sunday due to personal reasons.

Forward Alan Kardec and defender Roderick have not played this term after picking up hamstring injuries in pre-season training.The Portuguese champions, who suffered just two defeats in 30 games last season en route to a 32nd national title, have lost three out of four already this term.But Jesus is optimistic his side will return to winning ways on their return to the Champions League after a two-year absence.

"We had four days to recover and we are well, from the physical point of view," he said. "Let's go with the motivation high. Being in the Champions League is the ultimate ambition for any player.

"We're much more focused and involved in the competition. We want to get past this phase."

Hapoel advanced to the group phase of Europe's premier competition for the first time in the club's history with a 4-3 play-off aggregate win over Salzburg last month.Eli Gutman's side were beaten just once on their way to the domestic title last term but lost their opener this season, 1-0 at Hapoel Haifa on August 21, before picking up four points from their next two games.

Striker Etey Schechter, Hapoel's top scorer last season with 22 goals, has not played since tearing his hamstring in the opening-day defeat. Israel forward Eran Zahavi was forced off during the second half of Saturday's 2-2 draw at Hapoel Akko with a broken nose, but could play in Portugal wearing a face mask.

French midfielder Romain Rocchi has resumed full training following a thigh strain, but Mahran Lala is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after rupturing knee ligaments in last month's cup win over Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Source: DSG