- Maccabi Tel Aviv are locked in a tight title race in the Israeli top division.
- Shakhtar are in a similar position in the Ukrainian Premier League.
- Maccabi Tel Aviv finished second in Group I, winning three of their six matches.
- Shakhtar drop down from the Champions League having narrowly missed out on qualification.
Shakhtar looking for first leg win
Maccabi Tel Aviv host Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League on Thursday with both sides hoping for a first leg advantage to carry into the second half of the tie.
Maccabi Tel Aviv are currently second in the Israeli top division, three points behind rivals Maccabi Haifa. They are two points behind their rivals and the title race looks to be going down to the wire. In continental competition, Tel Aviv probably overperformed, emerging from Group E with 11 points after vital wins against Turkish side, Sivasspor.
Shakhtar Donetsk come into this game as heavy favourites to qualify despite a two month lay off without competitive football. They haven’t tasted defeat in the Ukrainian Premier League this season but sit three points behind Dynamo Kiev. Shakhtar missed out on qualifying from the Champions League group stages on goal difference and they will be keen to make their mark on this competition.
Shakhtar rightly enter as favourites here and they really should be looking to grab the advantage in the first leg of this tie. It’s hard to see Maccabi Tel Aviv coming away from this match with much to show but home advantage might mean they stand a little more chance. Shakhtar are likely to put their opponents to the sword however and we’re backing Shakhtar to score over 1.5 goals.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will be happy to go into the second leg still in the tie but Shakhtar might have too much quality to let that happen and we’re forecasting a 3-0 victory for the away side.