Game Day 2 at the UEFA Under-21 European Championship gave us a potential game of the tournament and a stinker of a match in Jerusalem. Unfortunately that is where I was, Russia vs. Spain as the reigning Champions squeaked by with a 1-0 win as Holland & Germany in Petach Tikva put on a show with a 3-2 victory for the Dutch.
This match could be the game of the tourney as Holland took a 2-0 advantage into half time and Germany stormed back to tie it up at 2-2 at the 81st minute by a goal by Tottenham’s Lewis Holtby. But the match was far from over as Leroy Fer, Holland’s 82nd minute substitute played hero with a 90th minute goal to send the Dutch side to the victory!
Germany forgot that a game can be 90+ minutes as they were nowhere to be found in the first half and gave up a late goal which may cost them at the end of the group stage.
Not much in this game other than the fact each team found different halves to play in with the Netherlands taking home the 3 pts at the end. All in all, the fans in attendance must have been a happy lot as they headed for the exits.
Not much in this game other than Spain finally scoring in the 82nd minute with a goal by Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata. The whole match was similar to watching the Spanish army trying to penetrate a Russian fort. The match consisted of Malaga’s Isco attempting to break down Russia’s solid defense. Manchester United’s goalkeeper David de Gea did not have much to do, especially in the second half, when he was right in front of us and could have joined us in the stands to watch his teammates trying to score, because I believe he touched the ball twice in the last 45 minutes.
Russia’s lack of attempts to play a game with their opposition. Looking to steal a point with a draw is never a good way to play a game as it rarely works because at some point you will give up a goal and that is exact;y what happened to the Russians. The only positive is that on Sunday against Holland they will have no choice but to play a bit of offense if they have any prayer of making it to the second round with the likes of Holland, Germany and of course Spain in their group.
Where to begin. Let’s start with the beginning of trying to get to the stadium which was an absolute disaster. I live with no traffic an 8 minute drive from Teddy Stadium. Unfortunately I had to bail out of the car with a friend and my boys at Beit Tzafafa which is a 20 minute walk to the facility. The traffic jams were so heavy I have never seen anything quite like this in my life. After chucking the car we walked through tons of angry, honking drivers and people cursing out clueless police officers as in their ultimate wisdom closed off the main street by the stadium.
Now folks, I have been to Beitar Jerusalem matches with more than 20K people in the stands and in my life never saw anything quite like this! No one was able to park. No one was able to get anywhere near the facility and the so called express shuttles for fans were stuck in the same mess as everyone else. As we approached the stadium we saw an absolutely empty parking lot! The stupid cops had closed the roads and the main parking area at the stadium and at the train station was unreachable! What idiots!
But it gets worse! Media outlets were reporting that there would be over 25K to see Spain. After shlepping around the stadium to get to our gate, my friend had to stand in line to pick up his ticket. This was at 6:40pm with kick off at 7pm. He finally made it into the stadium at 7:10pm! Half an hour to get 1 stinky ticket! Do the organizers have any clue? Do they really what kind of disgrace they had given fans yet an hour before kick off?
But it gets better! How many people were actually in the stadium? 8,127!!! What a disaster for the city of Jerusalem. A shame. And The Sports Rabbi had the opportunity to tell Mayor Nir Barkat exactly what I thought as he entered the empty stadium right by my seats and I expressed my dissatisfaction with what had gone on in and around Teddy.
I can only hope that the next 3 games I am going to at Teddy will be an easier experience. All in all it was a cinch to drive to Bloomfield in Tel Aviv and get in and out than it was top go 4 miles from my home.