No shame for Israel in loss to Germany

Marvelous Marciano keeps blue-and-white close in friendly, Romania up next • U21 side draws Poland.

 Kai Havertz heads in Germany’s first goal off a corner kick late in the first half of its 2-0 home victory over Israel in Saturday’s international friendly in Sinsheim. (photo credit: Heiko Becker/Reuters)
Kai Havertz heads in Germany’s first goal off a corner kick late in the first half of its 2-0 home victory over Israel in Saturday’s international friendly in Sinsheim.
(photo credit: Heiko Becker/Reuters)

Germany blanked Israel 2-0 in international friendly action over the weekend as the Bavarian host scored a pair of first-half goals to take the one-sided win.

The blue-and-white was outclassed throughout the 90 minutes as Hansi Flick’s team had one chance after another, finding the back of Ofir Marciano’s goal near the end of the first half via a Kai Havertz header off a corner kick and Timo Werner via a free kick.

As the game headed towards full time each team was awarded a penalty but did not score – with Thomas Muller hitting the woodwork for Germany while Yonatan Cohen’s spot kick was saved by substitute ’keeper Kevin Trapp.

Next up for Israel will be a friendly back at home on Tuesday night against Romania, which is reported to have had numerous COVID-19 cases ahead of the matchup.

“We tried to cut down the gap between the two squads by our defense and we tried to find some counter attacks,” Israel’s interim coach Gadi Brumer said of the duel with the Germans.

Football / soccer ball (credit: INGIMAGE)Football / soccer ball (credit: INGIMAGE)

“I just have to take off my hat to the players for the performance. They played well against one of the best teams in the world and now we will get ready for Romania at home.”

Marciano, whose heroics kept the Germans from doubling or even tripling the score, spoke about his performance following the match.

“Throughout my career I’ve always done my talking on the pitch and not in the studio. I always gain confidence when I am with the national team and I’m happy that I was able to put in a solid showing.”

Eli Dasa, who captained the squad and became the first Ethiopian Jewish player to lead the blue-and-white out onto the field for a national team game, discussed the privilege to do so.

“This was a huge honor for me and I dreamed about this opportunity my entire life. It was very exciting. You can see the difference in levels when we play a team like Germany and we did out on a respectable performance. This was a great experience for us and now we will turn our sights to Romania.”

The blue-and-white has never beaten Die Mannschaft, having lost four times and drawn once. The last time the two sides met was back in May 2012 in Salzburg, Austria, as the Germans downed Israel 2-0 in that contest as well.

On Saturday, Brumer’s squad featured Marciano between the pipes, with defenders Dasa, Sean Goldberg, Nir Bitton and Sun Menachem in front of him. Muhammed Abu Fani, Aviv Avraham, Dor Peretz and Manor Solomon manned the midfield and Tai Baribo along with Monas Dabbur played up front.

Flick’s German side featured the likes of Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan, Havertz and Werner from Chelsea along with Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler and Barcelona shot-stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The hosts controlled the pace of play early on as they dominated possession with chances from Draxler and Werner. For Israel, Solomon dribbled into the box but was stymied by the German defense.

Havertz had a brilliant chance in the area, but Marciano pawed the ball to safety at the last second as the game hit the 30th minute. Werner followed that up with another pair of opportunities, with the Chelsea duo peppering the Israeli ’keeper as the matchup remained goalless.

However, Havertz finally broke through in the 37th minute as the attacker headed home the ball with authority off a David Raum corner kick to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

As the blue-and-white tried to keep the deficit to just one goal ahead of the break, Werner found the second marker off a Gundogan free kick from right outside of the box to double the advantage for Flick’s crew.

The second half saw Israel bring on Gaby Kanichowsky, as the midfielder made his national team debut,  while Dabbur tried to pull a goal back with a brilliant chance in the 53rd minute only to come up just short.

Marciano came up big once again as he made the save on defender Thilo Kehrer’s opportunity and did the same off of Draxler’s chance from in close.

Kanichowsky made his way into the Germany box, but was stopped cold by the defense and both Germany and Israel missed penalties while both coaches made wholesale personnel changes the rest of the way as Germany notched the home conquest.

Earlier this month, Israeli legend Yossi Benayoun – who played for Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal as well as a number of other acclaimed clubs – was named the Israel national team technical director as the it begins to remake itself after a four-year stint in which Austrians Andreas Herzog and Willi Ruttensteiner led the blue-and-white.

Benayoun will be tasked with bringing in a new head coach in time for Nations League action beginning in June as Israel will be in a group with Iceland, Albania and Russia, though the Russians are currently suspended from any UEFA activities, a ban which they have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In related news, the Israel Under- 21 national team was also in action during the international break with a pair of games – against Poland and Germany – with both being played in Israel. Against Poland, Alon Hazan’s side fell behind 1-0 early on but came back to take a 2-1 lead late in the game thanks to goals by Celtic’s budding star Liel Abada and Omri Gendelman.

However, the visitors were able to find the back of Daniel Peretz’s goal to catch a point as the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

The junior blue-and-white will now prepare for Germany on Tuesday in what will be a head-to-head battle for first place in the group and automatic qualification for the 2023 U21 European Championships.

Also in international play, Israel’s under-19 team played to a goalless draw with Hungary and then beat Turkey 3-1 on a brace by Dor Turgeman.