Preview: Maccabi Haifa vs. Young Boys – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Maccabi Haifa and Young Boys, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

With only one round separating them from the Champions League group stage, the stakes will be high when Maccabi Haifa and Young Boys meet on Wednesday, in the first leg of their playoff tie.

While the hosts – who made it through qualifying last season – started their campaign in the first round, their Swiss counterparts now enter Europe’s top club competition.

Match preview

Sean Goldberg in action for Maccabi Haifa on October 11, 2022© Reuters

After winning both legs of their third qualifying round tie against Slovan Bratislava, just one more step lies between Maccabi Haifa and a return to the Champions League group phase.

In a quartet also featuring Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica, last season the Israeli club experienced mixed fortunes in Group H – being thumped 7-2 and 6-1 soon after writing themselves into history by beating Juventus – but having had a taste of the big time they are now keen to book another place in the autumn action.

At the start of their quest, Messay Dego‘s men swept aside Champions League newcomers Hamrun Spartans, before progressing past Moldovan champions Sheriff and then Slovan in the following rounds.

Goals in both legs from Frantzdy Pierrot and Dia Saba played a large part in seeing off the latter earlier this month, as Haifa secured a 5-2 aggregate win that eased them into the playoff stage.

While the Israeli Premier League has yet to kick off, the Greens have already beaten Beitar Jerusalem 3-1 in the Super Cup and then, last weekend, secured a spot in the Toto Cup final with a 2-0 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva.

Young Boys players celebrate after the match on September 14, 2021© Reuters

Though they are already well under way in their domestic season, Young Boys have yet to kick a ball in the Champions League this summer, ahead of their trip to Sammy Ofer Stadium.

Currently managed by former Chicago Fire boss Raphael Wicky, the Bern-based club finished fourth in Champions League Group F two years ago – trailing in behind Atalanta BC, Villarreal and Manchester United – and they exited the Europa Conference League playoffs to Anderlecht this time last year.

The Swiss champions secured a 16th league title – and their fifth in the last six years – by comfortably topping the Super League last term, and after four rounds of the 2023-24 campaign they remain unbeaten, having won and drawn two games to date.

In their most recent outing, Young Boys overcame Breitenrain to progress to the next round of the Swiss Cup, with a 5-0 scoreline featuring goals from familiar faces Cedric Itten and Jean-Pierre Nsame.

Both strikers may need to produce the goods again on Wednesday, when YB enter a hostile environment in Haifa seeking a first-leg advantage to take home for next week’s return.

Maccabi Haifa Champions League form:

Maccabi Haifa form (all competitions):

Young Boys form (all competitions):

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Team News

Maccabi Haifa recently completed the signing of former Lille midfielder Show to bolster their squad for the playoff stage, but a familiar XI should line up at Sammy Ofer Stadium on Wednesday.

Israel international Sean Goldberg helms the hosts’ back four, while Ali Mohamed, Mahmoud Jaber and captain Tjaronn Chery – who laid on three assists in the second leg against Slovan Bratislava – feature in midfield.

Forward pair Frantzdy Pierrot and Dia Saba provide Haifa’s goal threat in attack, with veteran playmaker Lior Refaelov – recently returned to the Greens from a long spell in Belgium – is among Messay Dego’s options on the bench.

Young Boys, meanwhile, have had a low-key summer in the transfer market, with Saidy Janko‘s return to Switzerland perhaps their most important arrival, but defensive mainstay Cedric Zesiger has left for Wolfsburg.

The visitors are not likely to include Sandro Lauper and goalkeeper David von Ballmoos, but both have returned to training following their respective knee injuries and the latter made an appearance in last week’s Swiss Cup match.

Up front, Jean-Pierre Nsame – who came on as a second-half substitute and then scored two goals against Breitenrain – should join forces with ex-Rangers striker Cedric Itten.

Maccabi Haifa possible starting lineup:
Nitzan; Sundgren, Seck, Goldberg, Cornud; Jaber, Mohamed; Saba, Chery, Haziza; Pierrot

Young Boys possible starting lineup:
Racioppi; Janko, Lustenberger, Camara, Benito; Niasse; Ugrinic, Monteiro, Rieder; Nsame, Itten

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We say: Maccabi Haifa 2-2 Young Boys

Both sides possess plenty of firepower and will be keen to establish a first-leg lead, so several goals could be shared in Haifa. The teams seem well matched in many respects, so it may all come down to who holds their nerve in next week’s decider.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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