Recap: Maccabi Tel Aviv - Hapoel Petah Tikva 0:2/Sport1
The top teams in Israeli football know these games well, even though most of them have passed away: an opponent who comes to dig well, closes the lines, tightens the defensive lines, stands with ten behind the ball. The way to crack such formations is through the flanks - it is as difficult to prepare for balls coming from the side as it is for balls coming from the front, there is less reaction time - in remote kicks or individual operations.
Robbie Keane may be upset by the quality of his team's play and Eran Zahavi has the right not to praise his ability, but Maccabi Tel Aviv chose to win this game in the way that has characterized it since the Irish coach arrived in Kiryat Shalom: intensity.
The pace at which Maccabi Tel Aviv plays, and we saw it already in its first game this season, against Hapoel Be'er Sheva in the Toto Cup (1:6), is murderous. Maccabi Tel Aviv moves the ball quickly, returns it quickly, does not let breathe, the teams against it do not come out of the first third, fly without address. It is this way that ultimately causes the opponent to make mistakes, and the secret of football's power is that more goals are caused by mistakes than performance superiority. So it's hard to move a ball without losing it, and it's hard for Milson to pass five players who are close to each other on a square meter, and it's also hard for Eran Zahavi sometimes to kick into the net, so he kicks into the goalkeeper's hands. At the end of two stupid penalties (Nawi's kick at Milson and an unnecessary push by Gaucher on Kanikovsky), and an uncontrollable movement by Omer Katz on penalties, it was Petah Tikva that had to respond to the arrears, too late, and too little.
With football like this, Hapoel Petah Tikva has nothing to sell in the Premier League. There are other teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv that will continue to play at a much higher pace than it and drag it to it, instead of the other way around, and the audience will also have something to say at the end: You don't bring such a large crowd to Bloomfield to see a magnificent bunker. Hapoel Petah Tikva has the tools to play football, it's the Premier League, not the Spanish league. You don't stick a peg in the league by sticking the game.
With such football, Maccabi Tel Aviv will eventually win the championship. It's not just the 9-point gap and the two extra games that Maccabi Tel Aviv has, it's already a psychological advantage: it doesn't matter if they keep Eran Zahavi (4 goals and 3 assists in <> games) and stop Milson away from the goal, in the end what will decide the game is the quality of the substitutes and the necessity that Robbie Keane imposes on his opponents. Maccabi Tel Aviv will not play differently against Maccabi Haifa, nor this week in Ghent, because that's how it got used to it. In the end, there is a payoff for it.
Playing at a murderous pace. Maccabi Tel Aviv/Ariel Shalom
Each season has its fox head. Last season it was Hapoel Jerusalem, two years ago Maccabi Netanya, 3 years ago M.S. Ashdod. In the permanent absence of Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem from the top echelons of Israeli football, there must be a Torah attaché. This season it will probably be Maccabi Petah Tikva's turn, which sits in third place, undefeated, with a win over Maccabi Haifa, and a quintet to Bnei Sakhnin's net yesterday.
Despite being relegated 3 times in the last decade, Maccabi Petah Tikva knows how to rise back. Its declines come mainly when it sacrifices its sporting success for its funding. In other words, it realizes very quickly the ripeness of the fruits it produces, and sells them to the highest bidder. Manor Solomon, Liel Abda, Thai Bribo, soon it will be the Tocalomati era.
At the same time, Maccabi Petah Tikva has more talent, and has a great eye for the players it meets on the way from the lower leagues, as well as the ability to bet on the right horses. Professional manager Omer Golan and almighty CEO Ofir Luzon, who have been an integral part of Maccabi Petah Tikva for decades, see, internalize, and bring.
Last season in Leumit, both Petah hopes arose. Maccabi Petah Tikva had to go down a little further in the table in order to bring its reality. One of these players is Jonathan Teper, son of the CEO of the referees' union Yariv Teper, and he was not brought in because of connections, Yariv Tepper is not from the judges' slot. Jonathan Tepper was at Hapoel Acre the best 50/50 player in Leumit last season, one of the best box-to-box players in Israel.
A quiet player, who does defense and attack with the same quality. Already last season, Petah Tikva removed Maor Levy, a player who creates goals, from Maccabi Haifa without an uncontrollable lust for scoring. The third is Anas Mahamid, who was a star in Hapoel Tel Aviv's youth, who was talked about wonders, and he made unfortunate choices, both in relegation from the Premier League and in choosing a rather drab team in Switzerland like Winterthur. Last season um Al Fahm saw his entire arsenal: a rare play-call, the ability to spot hesitant defenders – even if they play for Maccabi Haifa – and no-ball movement into the delivery lanes of defenders. He grabs, he stinks, he's both fast and agile, and he knows how to finish. Hamid has huge potential that it would be a shame to discover only at the age of 25, but you know, Eran Zahavi also started conquering only at the age of 26. It's not too late.
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The league's biggest hit. Mahamid, Bereshetsky and Maor Levy celebrate/Danny Maron
This cycle isn't over yet – and I hope I'm not opening my mouth to the devil – but still no manager has been fired or resigned in the Premier League. Let's say already, this is not an unusual phenomenon. Although in the last three seasons there have been coaches vacating the position before the fifth cycle, usually the turning point is in the seventh cycle.
But it is necessary to pay attention to some phenomena. The least successful coaches at the moment are those who have been given a position of trust. Eli Levy received it from Jackie Ben Zaken in Ashdod. Ashdod usually releases its coach at a later stage, if there is no significant change in ability. Ashdod has a mediocre squad minus, so it is not certain that the coach is the problem. The same goes for Hapoel Jerusalem, which did not bring in a replacement for Barak Badash, and Ziv Arie enjoys the fact that he is in his fifth season with the team, and has already gone through bigger crises than these. Niso Avitan enjoys credit in Hadera for the 2019 Aliyah season and for the fact that until yesterday, he met significantly superior teams.
Who will be fired first? It could be a foreign coach, say Valkanis at Hapoel Tel Aviv, even though the new management conveys a seemingly different culture. It could be the coach of a top team that found itself in a terrible start to the season, but here too Masai enjoys the fact that he is the choice of professional manager Gal Alberman, who will not be quick to admit a mistake. And therefore, not always because of ability, but because of Prestige, coaches get immunity until the late term. It's not that we're in favor of firing coaches, but where rosters can no longer be repaired, at least until January, the only way to stop an avalanche is to shake up the coach's position. By the way, it may be ironic, but the last time a first coach in the league was fired only in the seventh round, was in the 2019/20 season in Kiryat Shmona. The coach then was Masai.
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