Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs Astana – Thursday, November 2, 18:00 GMT/19:00 CET – Netanya Municipal Stadium, Netanya, Israel
Astana’s 4-0 victory two weeks over Maccabi was the biggest ever victory by the side from Kazakhstan in a UEFA competition. Now on matchday 4 in their return leg, Astana are looking towards making a major step towards the round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League with another win against Maccabi.
With the victory against Maccabi Astana moved into third place in the UEFA Europa League Group A standings behind first placed Slavia Praha and Villarreal, who both have collected five points. With Slavia and Villarreal facing each other on matchday 4 Astana want to capitalise and get a crucial three points that would see the Kazak side move into one of the two top spots in the group.
Advancing to the knockout stage of the UEFA Europa League would be a crucial next step in the football development in Kazakhstan. The country has heavily invested into the sport since joining UEFA from the Asian Football Confederation in 2002. Since then Kazakhstan has seen some progress in international competitions with Astana being the locomotive.
Astana has now managed to qualify for UEFA group stage competitions for the third time running, and although the club is drawn into a tough group with Villarreal and Slavia, there is a belief in the country that the state-sponsored club could make history and go through. Judging on home form alone Astana could certainly do it as the Kazakh side has been on top form at the Astana Arena. It is on the road where Astana have struggled, however, with their only win coming in Latvia when they faced Spartaks Jūrmala in the second round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.
Astana, therefore, have to improve their away record if they finally want to get out of the group stage of a UEFA competition. With an impressive performance against Maccabi on matchday 3, the time seems ripe for Astana to finally get that second victory on the road.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs Astana – Players to Watch
Pedrag Rajković #95 – Maccabi
The Serbian national team goalkeeper is considered one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects in European football. Signed from Red Star Belgrade in 2015 the move from Serbia to Israel was an interesting choice by the then 19-year-old. Red Star Belgrade received €3 million for the goalkeeper, who won the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup with his country.
Patrick Twumasi #23 – Astana
Together with Junior Kabananga Patrick Twumasi is Astana’s most dangerous forward. Ranked second behind Kabananga on Astana’s scoring chart with 11 goals and six assists in 26 Kazak Premier League games Twumasi has been a prolific player this year. Playing off the left of Kabananga Twumasi often interchanges positions with his forward partner giving Astana a dangerous one-two punch up front.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs Astana – Match Stats
- Astana’s only past tie against an Israeli side came in the 2014/15 UEFA Cup second qualifying round when they eliminated Maccabi’s neighbours Hapoel Tel-Aviv.
- Maccabi won their only previous tie against a Kazakh team: they drew 1-1 away and won 2-1 at home to Kairat Almaty in last season’s UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.
- Astana are unbeaten in 16 European home games (W8 D8) since a 3-0 loss to Villarreal in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League play-offs.
- Maccabi have won four of their five UEFA away matches this season (W4 L1)—conceding just one goal in the process—but did lose at Slavia Praha on matchday 1.
- The journey from Astana to Netanya, where Maccabi are playing, is around 3,700km.
- Astana have won just one of their last 17 European away games (W1 D5 L11), triumphing in Latvia at Spartaks Jūrmala in this season’s UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs Astana 1-3
Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs Astana – Possible Starting Lineups
Rajikovic – Shpungin, Ben Haim, Babin, Davidzada – Susic, Yeini, Battocchio – Blackman, Kjartansson, Atar
Manager: Jordi Cruyff
Eric – Shomko, Logvinenko, Postnikov, Shitov – Grahovac, Maevskiy, Kleinheisler – Tomasov, Twumasi, Kabananga
Manager: Stanimir Stoilov
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.