Camels can give Saints the hump by scoring at St Mary's
BT Sport 2, 8.05pm Thursday
There is one item on Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s to-do list at St Mary’s tonight – find the net.
Without a goal, the Israeli champions will be out of the Europa League so, luckily for them, they couldn’t be in a richer vein of scoring form.
And while scoring goals against Southampton is inevitably a sterner test than hitting the net against the likes of Kfar Saba and Ashdod, their objective this evening is clear, and given the form they are in, back the Camels to score at evens.
Hapoel have won eight league games in a row with 29 goals bagged.
In Europe this season, they have scored two against Celtic in a Champions League tie and three against Inter in a Europa League group game, but failed to find the net at Sheriff and Olympiakos (both ending 0-0) and Sparta Prague, a match they lost 2-0.
If those results show us anything, it’s that Bachar Barak’s men are comfortable playing the big teams in the big competitions.
And it probably helps that they know what they need to do tonight. Defeat or a 0-0 draw and they are out; victory or a scoring draw and they’re through.
Southampton are also in an interesting situation. The Saints aren’t the sort of side who will play for a 0-0 draw but, equally, if they concede, they aren’t the sort of side who will score two goals or more. They have failed to score in seven of their last 14 matches.
Claude Puel’s men, worthy favourites though very short for this contest, are playing their tenth cup tie of the season and the Frenchman has to decide whether or not to start with the likes of Jose Fonte, Ryan Bertrand and Charlie Austin, who have been used sparingly or not at all in the tournament to date.
Southampton (4-1-2-1-2): Forster; Martina, Yoshida, Van Dijk, McQueen; Clasie; Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse; Tadic; Redmond, Austin.
Hapoel (3-4-3): Goresh; Vitor, Tzedek, Taha; Bitton, Hoban, Ogu, Korhut; Buzaglo, Sahar, Nwakaeme.
Hapoel over 0.5 goals
3pts 21-20 Betfair