Paris Saint-Germain will hope to record a second consecutive Champions League Group H win when they make the long journey to Israel to take on Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday night.
The hosts fell to a 2-0 loss to Benfica on the opening matchday, while Christophe Galtier’s men ran out 2-1 winners over Juventus at the Parc des Princes.
From failing to make it out of their Europa Conference League group in 2021-22 to plying their trade on the biggest continental stage of them all, Maccabi Haifa’s first Champions League group-stage game for 13 years ended as expected last week.
The Israeli champions held their own in the first half against Benfica to ensure that the referee’s whistle would blow for the interval with the scoreline still at 0-0, but Rafa Silva and Alex Grimaldo struck early in the second period for the Portuguese side.
Despite beginning their next Champions League conquest on the back foot, it has been business as usual for Barak Bakhar’s side in the Israeli Premier League, as they recovered from their European setback with a 3-1 success over the 10 men of Sekzia Ness Ziona at the weekend thanks to a brace from star man Omer Atzili.
Maccabi Haifa are competing in the pinnacle of European football for only the third time in their history – previously going out in the group stage in 2002-03 and 2009-10 – the latter of which saw them suffer a pair of 1-0 defeats to French opposition in Bordeaux.
Bakhar’s side made waves earlier this summer with an astounding 4-0 success on Olympiacos’ home turf during Champions League qualifying, but their losing streak in group-stage games now stands at seven, and they could become only the second team in history to lose eight in a row without scoring a single goal this week.
Amid rumours that their relationship off the field is not all sunshine and rainbows, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar proved that their connection on the field is as strong ever when Juventus came to town, as Galtier’s side posted a 2-1 opening-day success.
Mbappe volleyed home with aplomb from Neymar’s cheeky chip over the top of the defence before doubling his side’s lead before half time, and PSG held on for all three points despite Weston McKennie’s bullet header early in the second half.
There were no prizes for guessing who got the assist for PSG in their 1-0 Ligue 1 win over Brest at the weekend, with creator-in-chief Lionel Messi finding Neymar to crash home the game’s only goal, but Gianluigi Donnarumma was forced to palm away an Islam Slimani penalty.
Les Parisiens have now strung together a four-game winning streak in all competitions, and their unbeaten record in 2022-23 is also intact as they aim to score at least three goals away from home for the ninth game running. Not only that, but they could also equal Real Madrid’s record of scoring in 40 consecutive Champions League group-stage games – set between 2008 and 2015.
On a more sour note, the Ligue 1 champions endured a dismal set of results on the road in the Champions League last term and have gone winless in each of their last five such matches in the competition, so picking up a first-ever win against Maccabi Haifa at the third attempt is of paramount importance for Galtier.
Maccabi Haifa Champions League form:
Maccabi Haifa form (all competitions):
Paris Saint-Germain Champions League form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
We say: Maccabi Haifa 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain
PSG’s failures away from home in the Champions League last season should count for nought here, with Maccabi Haifa rather short in midfield and unlikely to trouble the French champions in the final third.
The Israeli champions did manage to frustrate Benfica for a good chunk of time on the opening day, and PSG could not score a horde of goals against a five-man Brest backline, but Galtier’s men should get the job done with minimal trouble this week.