Israeli champions Hapoel Beer Sheva will look to go one further this season but they must begin at home against Hungarian champion Budapest Honved in this second qualifying round of the Champions League on Wednesday.
Turner Stadium, Be'er Sheva, Israel 12 Jul 2017 5:00 pm (GMT)
Key Stat: This is Honved's first appearance in European football since 2013 in the Europa League qualifying rounds.
Expert Verdict: If one thing is for sure, Hapoel has proven that they are shrewd European operators last season. They nearly made it to the group stage of the Champions League, only falling to Celtic as they fell apart in Scotland. That forced them into the Europa League, where they grinded out results to get to the knockout rounds past the likes of Southampton and Inter Milan. That experience will prove to be very important here, and it should give them every chance to progress to further rounds yet again this season as Honved just aren't quite as good.
Barak Bakhar hasn't lost very many players since last season, so that will help him out a great deal as he seeks to do one better.
Hapoel can splash the cash, and that has seen them afforded the opportunity to sign former Barcelona winger Isaac Cuenca. Cuenca never quite hit the heights at Barcelona, or at Ajax, but he is still a player with some of the best training you could ever find. The winger hasn't shown to be a prolific goal scorer so far in his career, but with this move the 26 year old will be expected to find the net more often.
Hapoel have three wins, a loss, and a draw in their last five matches. They drew 1-1 away to Beitar Jerusalem before closing out their league season with a 2-0 home win over Bnei Sakhnin. They have played three friendlies to prepare. They began with a 3-0 away loss against Lech Poznan, but they have won away trips to Zagliebie Lubin (1-2) and Piast Gliwice (0-1) most recently.
Defenders:Bitton, Tzedek, Miguel Vitor, Korhut
Midfielders:Ogu, Radi, Brown
Forwards:Cuenca, Nwakaeme, Sahar
Erik van der Meer has done well to keep virtually the whole team in this offseason, and as such will be hoping to give this Hapoel side a challenge in this tie.
Former Juventus striker Davide Lanzafame will be suiting up for Honved in this match. The 30 year old Italian never really caught on in Serie A, but he has been a good signing for the Hungarians. He scored 11 goals for them last season and also racked up six assists, so he has been known to hurt teams in different areas of play.
Honved have four wins and a draw in their last five matches. They finished their league season with a 2-5 away win at Debrecen and then a 1-0 home win over Videoton. Since then, they have also played three friendlies to get ready for this match. They drew 2-2 at home against Balmazujvaros to begin before picking up wins over Paksi SE (away, 0-1) and Szeged 2011 (4-1, home).
Defenders:Kamber, Barath, Bobal
Midfielders:Ikenne-King, Gazdag, Kostza, Nagy, Holender
Wednesday will be the first time these two sides have ever met.
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Hapoel are at 2/5 to win, a draw is at 3/1, and a Budapest Honved win is at 13/2.
Hapoel are big favorites in this match as they are simply a bigger side in the financial realm of the game, but it is worth pointing out that they have less European appearances on the whole than Honved. Honved haven't taken part in a while at all, though, so it won't help them much here. But as far as this round goes, they aren't the worst of the sides and could be expected to be a tough opponent for Hapoel and possibly worth a punt as a result.
Hapoel should get a win in this one, and that looks like being enough to get them a berth in the third round of qualifying.