Hapoel Beer-Sheva, the bottom-placed club in Group G, take on Viktoria Plzeň in Israel knowing that this will be their last European outing of the season.

• Plzeň are through to the next round and will overhaul FCSB and take top spot if they win and the Romanian side fail to do likewise at home to Lugano.

Previous meetings
• The teams’ first encounter, on matchday two, brought a 3-1 home victory for Plzeň, goals from Milan Petržela, Jan Kopic and Marek Bakoš eclipsing Anthony Nwakaeme’s solitary strike for Beer-Sheva.

• Plzeň have now won four of their five previous encounters with Israeli clubs, including both games in Israel.

• Beer-Sheva’s only other meetings with a Czech side ended in defeats by Sparta Praha (1-0 home, 2-0 away) in last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage.

Form guide
• Beer-Sheva are without a victory in four European matches (D1 L3). However, they have won four of their five UEFA fixtures in Israel this season.

• Plzeň have not claimed a European away win in their last 12 attempts (D5 L7). The last time they won away in a UEFA group stage was in Israel, 2-1 against Hapoel Tel-Aviv, on 25 October 2012. Including the UEFA Champions League, they have lost nine of their 12 away group fixtures since then.

• Beaten on away goals by Maribor in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, Beer-Sheva are competing in the UEFA Europa League group stage for a second straight season, having made the round of 32 on their debut appearance in 2016/17.

• Runners-up in last term’s Czech First League, Plzeň are contesting the UEFA Europa League group stage for a third straight season. With their 2-0 win at home to FCSB on matchday five, they have successfully avoided a third successive autumn elimination and can look forward to a fourth round of 32 participation in the spring.


Highlights: Plzeň 3-1 Hapoel Beer-Sheva

Links and trivia
• The journey from Plzen to Beer Sheva is around 2,700km.

• Beer-Sheva boast Czech talent in the form of international striker Tomáš Pekhart, who played for Slavia Praha (2009), Jablonec (2010) and Sparta Praha (2011).

• Pekhart played with Plzeň’s Jan Kovařík at Slavia and Jablonec, and with Martin Zeman at Sparta.

• Chasing their fifth championship title in eight seasons, Plzeň won their opening 14 Czech First League games before Teplice ended that run by holding them to a 0-0 draw on 26 November.

• Hapoel’s Loai Taha is available after a one-game ban.

• Suspended for next game if booked: Marek Bakoš (Plzeň)

The coaches
• Appointed Beer-Sheva boss in 2015, Barak Bakhar promptly steered the club to their first title in 40 years, then successfully defended that crown in 2016/17. A defender, he spent his playing heyday at Hapoel Kiryat Shmona, whom he later coached.

• After stints as Czech Republic and Anji coach, Pavel Vrba rejoined Plzeň this year, having earlier steered the club to two championships between 2008 and 2013. Once a Baník Ostrava player and coach, he lifted the 2006/07 Slovak title as Žilina boss.


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