Bayern Munich v Maccabi Haifa, Champions League, November 25, 2009
The plank is being readied for Louis van Gaal, and an unlikely Maccabi Haifa win would surely force the Dutchman to jump.
The Bavarian giants need to beat the Israeli champions at the Allianz Arena to stand any chance of progressing to the last 16, but even that might not be enough. Bordeaux have already assured their progress and Juventus can do likewise if they beat Les Girondins in France on Wednesday night.
So can Maccabi, the only team of the final 32 who have yet to score a goal in the group phase, pull off the incredible feat? Probably not, but their are signs to the contrary.
Domestically life could hardly be going any better for the Greens, with Haifa having recorded a perfect league record of 10 wins from 10 matches so far this campaign. The Israeli Ligat ha’Al may not be one of Europe’s finest divisions, but such form shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.
If Elisha Leviâ€™s men are to make an impression tomorrow, they will need to show more poise in front of goal. There will be tremendous pressure on forwards Shlomi Arbeitman (5/1 to score) and Vladimer Dvalishvili (11/1 to score first), who have scored ten and seven league goals, respectively, and managed a combined eight in Champions League qualifiers.
Amir Edri (shoulder), Gustavo Boccoli (thigh/groin), and Jorge Teixeira (back) have been ruled out of tomorrowâ€™s match, while despite the return to training of Eyal Golasa and John Culma from injuries, suspicions are that a lack of match fitness will keep the duo on the bench.
That leaves a significant amount of responsibility on the shoulders of captain Yaniv Katan (5/1 to score), a talented forward-thinking midfielder who only recently returning from a back problem too, to try and lead his team to their first points of this year’s tournament.
Bayern, with only four points from four games, risk suffering an embarrassing and rare group stage exit and with influential midfielder Franck Ribery still injured, along with absences of Breno and Luca Toni, they have a mountain to climb.
In last Saturday’s 1-all home draw with Leverkusen, Ivica Olic (6/5 to score & Bayern win) managed a second half that should mean he is available for some playing time against the Israelis. Arjen Robben (11/1 to score last), who missed the weekend match with recurring knee trouble, but may be included after a last-minute fitness test.
Bayern’s hope may come from one of the youngest members of their squad, Thomas Mueller (29/20 to score & Bayern win). The 20-year old attacking midfielder netted twice in the away leg at Haifa, and the starlet has been open of the few bright spots for Munich so far this campaign. Special mention should also be made for Bayern centre-half Daniel van Buyton (6/1 to score & Bayern win), the Belgian defender also scored against Maccabi in the away leg and has been a constant menace this season from set-plays with four goals already this term.
101predicts: Bayern Munich 2 – Maccabi Haifa 0 (4/1)
Full match odds here.