Recap of Maccabi Tel Aviv's 1:2 away win over Hapoel Jerusalem/Sport1
On the shop windows in Givatayim are pictures of many abductees, especially one abductee - 21-year-old Yonatan Semerano. Jonathan, "Kobi's son from the animal camp," is one of those many young people who just wanted to spend time at a nature party in bad guys and got caught up in an inferno that Satan did not create.
Before the Hapoel Tel Aviv basketball team game in Be'er Sheva last night, captain Bar Timur organized a group photo with Yair, Jonathan's brother and a fan of the team, through which the hope for Jonathan's return along with the other abductees was expressed. At 20:22 p.m., the club posted a photo on Twitter commemorating the moving gesture. Less than three hours passed, and Kobi posted an obituary announcing Jonathan's death on Facebook. In retrospect, Yair's picture with the team's players was their farewell picture to his brother.
How does this story connect to the first full league cycle in the Premier League since the war began?
As in the less beautiful days of the coronavirus, during October and November 2023, Erez Kalfon and the league administration faced a difficult decision - when and especially how to restart the business? This time it wasn't a global problem, but a big problem that is unique to us, Made in Yizrael. While the European leagues were going on, ours went on strike. At first UEFA did us a favor and allowed rest, then it was impossible to postpone the end. And in the midst of all this, the Secretariat had to overcome many obstacles and discussions in order to reach an agreed date and somehow make its way back.
It was a complicated story, not only because of the teams but also because of the commitment to the fans. A return without an audience seemed like ingratitude towards subscribers and ticket buyers, the same people who provide a colorful wrapper for a product that is hard to define as flashy. In hindsight, too, this is a problematic decision – football without crowds is a sad business. It turned out to be correct.
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A difficult decision that drew criticism but turned out to be correct. Erez Kalfon/Shlomi Gabbay
The reason why it is true is not economic, professional or logical. Shortly after Yair Semerno took a picture with the Hapoel Tel Aviv players, in the very same hall, several unscrupulous ruffians in the gallery booed the memory of police officers who sacrificed their lives in the October 7 massacre, in front of their families, all in the name of the open account they have from past confrontations with the police.
This is a despicable act, dozens of times worse than players who refuse to touch the sign for the return of the hostages, but beyond the moral preaching, it mainly proves that we are not ready for the audience in the stands at the moment. With a wounded and bleeding country in every possible sense, we have no strength for this despicable, it is still too early. We need a few more weeks without ultra-wars, without street fights, exchanges of accusations, Holocaust chants and people who open their minds and occupy expensive hospital beds.
Thus, through that ugly incident, it became clear to us that Kalfon was simply right, even if that was not what he intended in the first place. The show must go on, but it takes us a little more to extinguish the illusion that something has changed here.
Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Maccabi Haifa's lifeline
Maccabi Haifa was two minutes away yesterday from putting the rest of its season in existential danger. Everything is playing to her detriment right now, on and off the pitch. The meeting with Hapoel Be'er Sheva, which was originally supposed to be a football celebration and turned into a faded and tired version of a season game, came at a bad time. The sign affair has taken up too much space on the agenda, and the expected farewell to Dia Seba is also floating in the air. Professionally, the team had been stagnating even before the war, and things did not improve after it. Last night's draw was devastating. Then Charon Sari, Lior Rafalov and Dean David came along and revived the business.
Arrive just in time. David Verfalov / Maor Elkeslassy
In Beersheba, however, it is evident from afar that this is not it. The team's construction was already in question, and the departures of Ramzi Sapori and Sagiv Yehezkel to Turkey were a fatal blow to the club's chances of competing seriously. Elinib Barda's players held onto the ball 38 percent of the time, kicked twice into the frame and generally came to interfere more than trying to play football. The traces of that 6-1 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv, in a game that was essentially insignificant but left a scar even before the season began, are still evident. This team just looks scared - they're afraid to make a mistake, they're afraid to absorb and most of all they don't really want to score.
The one that managed to get out of the long hiatus almost without damage and maybe even with some profit is Maccabi Tel Aviv. It has accomplished a number of tasks successfully: qualifying for the knockout stage of the conference, retaining the squad almost entirely (with the exception of fitness coach Andy Liddell) and even skipping over the obstacle known as "when will Robbie Keane say something pro-Israel at the press conference". It's true that a big load is expected now, but most teams in the league have a much less deep roster, and the fact that the conference group stage is almost behind it allows the team to distribute the forces better.
Despite the sleepy atmosphere at Teddy, in hindsight they might look at this victory as formative. Last year, Maccabi Tel Aviv encountered similar difficulties against many teams, including Hapoel Jerusalem, and for the most part failed to meet the task. Last year it recorded its first turnaround only in the playoffs, this time it did so in the sixth round. Still, to say it's not impressive would be an understatement.
It's time to break through. Dor Turgeman/Bernie Ardov
The eyes and hopes of Maccabi Tel Aviv are mainly on Dor Turgeman. The striker was the star of Israeli football last summer and his progress in the national teams has been meteoric, especially in relation to the slowness with which he integrates into Maccabi Tel Aviv's squad.
The stage of proof came for Turgeman. When he gets a spot in the 11th, even if not always in "his" position, he must bring the same killer instinct we got to know in June and July. It is customary to say that you have to give time and use nice words like "patience" and "long term", but Maccabi Tel Aviv has had enough talent over the years that did not produce receipts and their reputation has declined. Every opportunity should be seized and from any comfortable situation a goal must be made.
In the previous round, way back in September, Turgeman came on as a substitute against Hapoel Petah Tikva and immediately scored a goal that sealed the result. The same goes for Derby. He's a conqueror, but he's not making a difference right now. His destiny is to be Maccabi Tel Aviv's tiebreaker, in every possible sense. Preferably as an ensemble player.
Abramov is right, everyone is wrong
In Beitar Jerusalem, as in Beitar Jerusalem, bad things lead to good things and vice versa. This club has the logic of a domestic cat, the least predictable animal in nature. Last season's opening defeats eventually translated into cup wins, the fans' fiasco with the president created a four-point deficit at the start of the current season. A real madhouse.
The problem is that Barak Abramov is trying to act according to this (lack of) logic. It suits him to do what he did in Bnei Yehuda - invest a minimum of money, rely on Yossi Abukasis' magic and get out of the season safely, maybe even steal some kind of title. For Beitar's owners, 2022/23 is a model of success, not a coincidence.
The ship sinks and he is ripe. Abramov/Maor Elkeslassy
It's too risky a gamble. Beitar does not have the privilege of betting every season on its future in the league. It can't afford to start every year with defeats and losses and expect the business to work, certainly not in the season when it started minus four. They closed that gap quickly with wins in Ashdod and Hadera, but then came three consecutive losses, the most painful of which was the home defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv.
When owning a football team, the consultants closest to you determine what you will look like. In Abramov's case, he probably doesn't listen and continues on the old path, the one where he's everything, I'm right and everyone is wrong. Not only did he play a significant part in the fact that the squad was bad, he managed to create a big rift with the players during the war break, creating a situation in which already in the sixth round some of them simply want this season to end.
Technically, Beitar's opening, six points from a possible 18, is better than the lone win and six losses last year, but after the dust wipes and the cup hangover drops, you can smell the danger again. Over the years, Beitar in general and Abramov in particular have a tendency to think that everything will work out, simply because things work out. It's walking a very dangerous path. In the next two games, Beitar has a Jerusalem derby and a meeting with Maccabi Haifa. The derby is the story - a win, and you can breathe a little. A loss, and maybe Abramov will start throwing Avoxys to the grill and explain that as far as he is concerned, he did everything right.
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