The Sports Rabbi will have his Starting XI each week to wrap up the Israel Football League Matchday that was. Here is Round 2!
1) Is this the same Maccabi Tel Aviv we saw last season? The team that dominated the league and won the championship months before the season was close to being over? There is something very wrong with the Yellow & Blue from top to bottom. Vladimir Ivic’s squad just can’t score and are not playing the same disciplined football that we saw all of last season.
Maccabi was bounced from European play by two teams that they should have been able to overcome in Cluj and Suduva and I’m not interested in the excuses about how Cluj made it all the way to the Champions League Playoffs and eliminated Celtic. Maccabi was just plain out bad.
The killer has been that Ivic keeps saying that they have been playing well and have been the better team when they are clearly just aren’t. Add to that an unconvincing win over newcomers Nes Tziona and a brutal goalless draw at a packed Bloomfield Stadium and owner Mitch Goldhar just can’t be happy with the product he sees on the pitch. Of course, the club is still digging out of the Financial Fair Play situation that they are in, but still, they have enough weapons and young guns that could make a difference.
2) The one positive of note is keeper Daniel Tenenbaum who is finally getting a chance to play and play well he is. It’s great to see the naturalized Israeli manning goal for Maccabi and looking good, really good.
3) After playing well against Hapoel Beer Sheva, Beitar Jerusalem laid the proverbial egg at Raanana losing 2:1. Nothing seemed to work. There was no speed, no creativity and the effort just seemed to be lacking against a super motivated Menachem Koretzky team.
The Black & Yellow desperately need a creative midfielder to replace the injured Michael Ohana. They need someone to distribute the balls to the wingers who can then take advantage of the opportunities they have. Yossi Benayoun the player would benefit greatly on the pitch by the likes of Gadi Kinda who was called up to the Israel National Team, Freddy Plumain and Levi Garcia. But that’s probably not a realistic option.
4) The other need is a true number 9. A real striker that can be the target man, get the ball in the box and put it home. It will be interesting to see if Beitar bring a player or two in over the next couple of weeks before the transfer window closes.
5) After crashing out of Europe, Hapoel Beer Sheva came back and won against Hapoel Hadera, last season’s Cinderella story. Beer Sheva is still going through changes but with Barak Bachar steering the ship the southern side will continue to evolve. They have already said goodbye to winger Jose Angel Carrillo who was a massive disappointment in the couple of months he was with the club and they’ll have to find some kind of replacement for him. But my bet is that they will be battling it out for the league title this season.
6) Maccabi Haifa was a shell of what they could be against Hapoel Haifa. Tjaron Chery, their new attacking midfielder was stymied by Haifa coach Haim Silvas and his squad and the Greens just looked like they were playing on empty as they were held to a 0:0 draw in their city Derby. Marko Balbul, may not be the answer that Maccabi Haifa needs to lead the team, but right now he’s the best option that they have. However, he’s got to figure out how to mesh a team with a lot of personality together. And by the way, why haven’t we seen a second of Dutch winger Yanic Wildschut?
7) Keep an eye for out Gaby Kanichowsky who was absolutely superb for Maccabi Netanya. The midfielder was dominant in their win over Nes Tziona. Netanya coach Shai Barda praised the youngster and said that believes that he will one day be a leader on the national team something that Blue & White coach Andi Herzog agrees with. And to think that Maccabi Tel Aviv gave up on him.
8) Hapoel Tel Aviv is in deep, deep trouble. They look terrible and can’t score if their lives depended on it. Niso Avitan’s head is already being called for by the fans and he’s on a very, very, very, short leash as his results in the preseason and regular season have something to be desired.
9) Raanana looks good, really good. Or Dasa, Eugene Ansah, Divine Naah, Carlos Rivas and David Mateos have been spectacular and exciting; they may be the best kept secret in Israel. Add to that Coach Menachem Koretsky’s defense prowess and bingo, you have a competitive team.
10) Omer Fadida was the star of the show for Kfar Saba who don’t have many threats and that may be a good thing for the veteran. If he can continue to be a dominant player for the newly promoted side, his value will just increase which will be great for him and the team as he may be a potential asset that will be sold to a competitor in the next transfer window.
11) Four huge games over the first two matchdays in front of big crowds ended up with the same goalless result. Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield opener, the Beitar Jerusalem/Hapoel Beer Sheva contest and the Haifa Derby all ended up 0:0 witnessed by close to 90,000 fans. That’s not a good showing for Israeli football who also couldn’t get a team into the group stages of a European competition for the second season in a row. Where is Blue & White footy going? And with that in mind, how will the National Team fare this week against North Macedonia and Slovenia? More to come…