The Israel National Team is at a crossroads of some sort. Head Coach Eli Gutman will have to dig down deep in order to get maximum points from the next two matches, Thursday night in Haifa against Andorra and Sunday evening in Wales. The Andorra match will be a walk in the park compared to a trip to Cardiff and Gareth Bale where Wales may have the opportunity to qualify for Euro 2016 should they defeat Cyprus away on Thursday. If Israel has to play against a 17-point Wales team, they will potentially have to experience a massive qualification party where they will only be the invited guests.
This could be make it or break it time for Israel. If they can collect 4-6 points out of these next two games they will still be in the picture to finally make it into their first top level tournament since the 1970 World Cup held in Mexico. But it’s a really big if.
Gutman will have to find a winning formula for the games and may audition a number of players against Andorra who haven’t featured on the National Team in recent memory. Maor Melikson is one of the names that could play a central role and Gili Vermouth may also get a starting XI position. Could Guy Haimov get the start in goal? Well he certainly deserves so.
Let’s take a look at the Sports Rabbi’s potential starting lineup. Tal Ben Haim and Eitan Tibi are the central defenders while Avi Rikan and Eli Dasa would get the call for the left and right backs giving Israel an all Maccabi Tel Aviv back four. CSKA standout Bibras Natcho and Celtic’s Nir Bitton would feature in the midfield, while upfront we would see the likes of the Yellow-and-Blue’s Tal Ben Chaim and Eran Zahavi, with Swiss outfit Grasshoppers striker Monas Dabbur and Brighton’s Tomer Hemed.
Arguments can be made to start Ben Sahar, Melikson and Vermouth or even Omri Ben Harush at left back in favor of Rikan, but Gutman must look to attack and not sit back and wait for a chance to counter. Israel needs to win and needs to get everyone on board with a positive result on Thursday in order to go into the Sunday Wales showdown with positive energy and attitude.
The lineup above would be more like a 4-2-4 with a short passing, offensive lineup which must come to score as many goals as possible because goal differential may be crucial as we near the end of Uero 2016 qualifying. In other words, the more the merrier.
Thursday should be a dress rehearsal for the Sunday showdown. They better make sure to get that down pat because Wales will most certainly be make it or break it. These next two matches will determine Israel’s Euro 2016 fate.