Chelsea soccer coach Jose Mourinho told reporters Monday, November 23, that his team had no concerns over travelling to Israel for Tuesday's Champions League match against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Israeli news site The Times of Israel reported.
Prior to Chelsea's departure, the British government had issued a travel warning for Israel, citing a 'high threat of terrorism'.
The violence since October 1 has killed 22 Israelis, an American, an Eritrean and one Arab Israeli, as well as 92 Palestinians.
Many of the Palestinians killed have been attackers, and a large number of them have been young people. Others have been killed during clashes with Israeli security forces.
During the press conference Mourinho said that everybody “just wanted to come” and nobody had any fears about the trip.
“I had even a player who maybe tomorrow or after tomorrow, his wife is having a baby. And he’s here to play, because he knows how important it is for us.”
In a previous trip to Israel in 2001, for a match against Hapoel Tel Aviv, six players — Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Petit, William Gallas, Albert Ferrer, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Graeme Le Saux — stayed behind. The match took place one month after the September 11 attacks and the team's management gave players the option not to travel.
“I didn’t have one single problem inside of the squad. I didn’t have a Graeme Le Saux,” Mourinho said Monday.
“We can just focus on playing… The best way is to focus on football and the happiness you have to play football, the responsibility you have to play football. And leave security questions to people who know more than we do."
Jose Mourinho's team currently sit in second place in Group G and could advance with a victory against the already eliminated Israeli champions provided Dynamo Kiev do not win their game against Porto.
A draw would also suffice if Dynamo lose at the same time in Portugal.
Maccabi, who have won three straight domestic titles, geared up for this clash by beating Hapoel Haifa 3-0 on Saturday to take over top spot in the Israeli top flight.
Striker Dejan Radonjic is doubtful with a nagging calf injury, while midfielder Tal Ben Haim II is expected to feature despite not fully recovering from a calf injury.
Former Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim I is expected to return to the line-up after being rested on Saturday.
Despite Maccabi's poor start in the Champions League, their leading goal scorer in Europe, Eran Zahavi, is staying optimistic.
"It's realistic to hope for points against Chelsea. It's our time to go all out, because we have nothing to lose in the Champions League," he said.
Serbian manager Slavisa Jokanovic, a former Chelsea player who last season led Watford to promotion to the Premier League, expects a difficult match for his team who have lost all four of their group games, managing just one goal.
"The Champions League is the highest level of European football. Chelsea may not have played well this season but they are still Chelsea, we have to show our best and I expect that we will do this," he said.
Radamel Falcao and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois are missing for Chelsea due to injury.