Watch the game summary. Courtesy here11
From the first moment, people talk about the Israeli team for the World Cup as a team that succeeds thanks to heart and soul. It's not a bad thing, even good and flattering, but Israel didn't beat Brazil on Saturday just because of mental strength. She did show character when she twice came back from behind and turned things around, but yesterday's game was all about clear professional superiority for most of the minutes. Israel simply looked like a smarter, better-trained team that understood the game much more than its Brazilian rival.
You could see it on Ofir Haim's face when he came for an interview at the end of the game. Usually with the emotional coach it goes straight to emotion, but this time the emotion was related to the attack that occurred in the morning, not to the team and the game. It was important for Chaim to come and talk professionally about his team's clear advantage over Brazil, as delusional as it sounds. When Ofir Haim felt the professional inferiority in the game against Japan, he defined the victory as a miracle and immediately turned to emotion. It was the same in other games. But yesterday he felt at the top of football after such a clear priority and victory after a turnaround over the Brazilian national team. Frankly, he deserves it.
This time he did not "run away" to emotion. Ofir Haim celebrates (Photo by Getty Images, ANDRES LARROVERE/AFP)
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Of course, this superiority takes nothing away from the mental strength of the team, which is expressed when necessary. It's not just coming back from behind, it's also not letting Brazilians build momentum and get chances after missing two penalties. When you miss two penalties that could end a game, everything can be reversed, but the national team players didn't even give the Brazilians a real chance to take advantage of it.
Some wonder how much better the team was with Oscar Gluch and Idan Tocalomati, the two stars absent from the championship. She might have been more talented, but I'm not at all sure she's more successful. You can see so much talent in this tournament being lost, the four favourites to win are already out, Brazilians who will still reach Europe's top leagues are not functioning and alongside them one Eli Madmon, who can't find minutes in the Premier League, dominates against them in the middle of the field. Maybe Gluch and Tocalomati would have helped, but what brings each player of himself here in terms of character, concentration, quiet and wisdom, is what carried us to the semi-finals.
Towards the end of the 90 minutes, the team got tired. Ofir Haim woke them up with a motivational speech before extra-time, but Ran Binyamin's entry made the difference. Hapoel Tel Aviv's young midfielder, who was sent off in the previous game with two quick yellows, was everywhere on the pitch. His mobility and aggressiveness gave the feeling of another player on the pitch, he didn't let the Brazilians breathe, chased lost balls and beat his teammates in every corner of the field. He was Ofir Haim's oxygen machine.
The best just the way they are. The national team players celebrate (Photo: Reuters)
After such a day that the people of Israel went through with the attack on the Egyptian border, it is very nice that Ofir Haim and the actors knew how to connect the two things. When they heard about it for the first time, everyone was despondent, but at the meeting the coach already knew how to make the change and urge his pupils to lift the spirits of the people. Let's hope he won't have any more similar reasons in the future. To make it to the finals? With what this team is doing, we'll just be disappointed if we don't. From game to game we feel that they are just better - and deserve to go all the way.
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