Israel under Elisha Levy got off to an inauspicious start falling to Serbia 3:1 in Novi Sad in a match that again showed exactly what weaknesses need to be worked in if the Blue & White have any bought of competing on the international stage.
The set pieces. Yet again, they have bitten Israel where it hurts most. Goals from corner kicks and free kicks have always been the achilles heal both domestically and intentionally for Israel and its clubs throughout Europe and that’s who Serbia took care of Israel.
It seems simple to defend set pieces. Make sure you mark you man. Ensure that you clear the ball immediately. You’d think Israel would be accustomed to defending and taking care of these free attempts, but no, not yet it seems.
On the plus side, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eran Zahavi continued to his goal scoring domination cleaning up a penalty attempt drawn by Hapoel Beer Sheva striker Ben Sahar as the champion was pulled down in the box good for a spot kick. However, not much else was new from this Israel side.
Was it tactics, fitness or some other factors which didn’t allow Israel to compete with a team that they should have been able to take care of?
An upbeat Levy said that what we saw against Serbia was the basis for the opening match of World Cup Qualifying at home against Italy. Not sure what that basis was as it looked like Israel will just be manhandled and taken a part by the Azzuri side. Sure, the Blue & White had some first half opportunities, but as usual they couldn’t bury them behind Maccabi Tel Aviv keeper Predrag Rajikovic.
Yes, there is a good set of new players that Levy can use and he can begin to mold the National Team in a model that may be able to compete at the highest levels, but it will be a challenging and daunting task.
Unfortunately all I see right now is more of the same from what we all witnessed under Eli Gutman. This may be a long ten qualifying matches, but hopefully a work in progress.