The art of the goalless draw. Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv made sure to give us all a lesson in that last night at Teddy Stadium as the two squads mustered a few opportunities a piece and that as that. Nada, Zip, Zilch, Zero.
Once again, Daniel Tenenbaum the Yellow & Blue’s ace shot stopper made the saves when called upon as did his counterpart Itamar Nitzan at the other end of the pitch. However, it never seemed that the match was going to end in anything other than a 0:0 special.
Sure Levi Garcia hit the left post on a brilliant free kick (maybe Tenenbaum talks to them like Patrick Roy the great Montreal Canadiens hockey goalie) and Nitzan was in the right place at the right time to stone Dor Peretz just as the second half began but that was it.
This goalless draw was the epitome of anti-football that has unfortunately been ravaging Israel’s top division for some years now.
Roni Levy, the Beitar Jerusalem coach didn’t want to lose and that’s fine as he’s been under huge pressure from the fans and management since the league returned a week plus ago. The problem is that Levy really in fact couldn’t afford not to try and win. After a 1:1 draw last week at home against a weak Hapoel Beer Sheva team that has been turned upside down with owner Alona Barkat leaving and a devastating 3:0 loss at Hapoel Tel Aviv, Levy had to throw every weapon at Maccabi including the kitchen sink.
Where was striker Shlomi Azulay for Levy’s Yellow & Black with the #9 position being an issue all season long for Beitar, The past 3 games have seen them score a grand total of 1 goal. That’s it, 1. Moshe Hogeg’s team has plenty of speedy wingers, no lack of those on Beitar, but they have no one that can finish and put the ball into the goal. They had one in Anthony Varenne but he was sent packing to Beer Sheva during the winter transfer window and sports director Yossi Benayoun didn’t find a replacement or even look to fix the problem which has plagued the team since the preseason.
Yes, Beitar has 43 goals in 29 matches which is the third best goal total in the league and they’ve scored bundles against the bottom of the league. But in the games against the top 4 teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Beer Sheva and Hapoel Tel Aviv they’ve scored a grand total of 6 goals in 11 contests while giving up 12 goals and sport a record of 3 wins, 4 draws and 4 losses. That’s just not enough if you are trying to win the league or even qualify for Europe at the stage
It’s a lot easier to play the likes of Nes Ziona, Ashdod and Hadera where Beitar can use Freddy Plumain, Levi Garcia and Co. to tear up the wings but when you are playing the better clubs in Israeli footy you’ve got to have someone who can bang in the ball. Now the blame can’t be totally placed on Levy it also falls on Benayoun for not filing this glaring hole.
Of course, when you play the game of football you need to two to tangle and Maccabi Tel Aviv is a guilt party as well. Without midfielder Dan Glazer who is arguably Coach Vladimir Ivic’s most valuable player of the season, Maccabi is certainly a different team, no question about that. But the Serbian maestro had a perfect replacement for his MVP in Ruslan Barsky who can play the part pretty well, however, he chose to park him on the bench.
Without the ability of one of his top central defensive midfielders who knows how to spread the pitch with the best in the business, Maccabi had problem after problem in going on the attack and settled into a shell that only allowed for select chances that barely threatened the Beitar goal.
Defensively, the Yellow & Blue were brilliant as usual and recored their 24th clean sheet while having only conceded 7 goals in 29 league contests, so it’s certainly hard to argue that defense doesn’t win championships.
Maccabi captain Sheran Yeini said following the game that they expected a different type of look, a different style of match from Beitar and that’s why they had trouble creating chances. If that was the case, Ivic should have used one or two of his five substitutes to change it up a bit early on and find a solution to the problem at hand. Bringing in Barsky and the offensive minded Eylon Almog in the 88th minute was about a big of risk Ivic was going to take on the night.
Of course, Maccabi wants to go undefeated and cap off what looks to be Ivic’s final year in charge of the club in order to go out in style. But the football witnessed on Monday night wasn’t exactly earth shattering as the bench boss played not to lose the game. Instead, the coach chose to play it safe, not go for the win and move even that much closer to the league championship.
Anti-football can win titles, but as the game returns to the forefront after the coronavirus break the teams need to provide as much action as possible for those fans who can’t be in the stands but who are watching at home.