Beitar, Mac TA can’t score in snooze-fest

Both Jerusalem and yellow-and-blue play not to lose in what is becoming all too common in Israel.

MACCABI TEL AVIV (in white) and Beitar Jerusalem battled to a boring 0-0 draw this week at Teddy Stadium in Israel Premier League Championship Playoff action. (photo credit: DANNY MAROM)
MACCABI TEL AVIV (in white) and Beitar Jerusalem battled to a boring 0-0 draw this week at Teddy Stadium in Israel Premier League Championship Playoff action.
(photo credit: DANNY MAROM)
The art of the goalless draw.
Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv made sure to give us all a delightful lesson in futility this week at Teddy Stadium as the two squads mustered just a few opportunities apiece, without the ball reaching the back of the net even once.
Nada, Zip, Zilch, Zero.
Once again, the yellow-and-blue’s ace shot stopper Daniel Tenenbaum made the saves when called upon as did his counterpart Itamar Nitzan at the other end of the pitch. However, it never seemed that the match was going to end in anything other than a 0-0 special.
Sure Levi Garcia hit the left post on a brilliant free kick and Nitzan was in the right place at the right time to stone Dor Peretz just as the second half began, but that was it.
This goalless draw was the epitome of “anti-soccer” that has unfortunately been ravaging Israel’s top division for some years now.
Roni Levy, the Beitar Jerusalem coach, didn’t want to lose and that’s fine as he’s been under huge pressure from the fans and management since the league returned two weeks ago.
The problem is that Levy really couldn’t afford not to try and win. After a 1-1 draw last week at home against a weak Hapoel Beersheba team that has been turned upside down with owner Alona Barkat leaving and a devastating 3-0 loss at Hapoel Tel Aviv, Levy should have thrown every weapon at Maccabi, including the kitchen sink.
Where was striker Shlomi Azulay for Levy’s yellow-and-black, with the #9 position being an issue all season long for Beitar? The past three games have seen Beitar score a grand total of 1 goal. That’s it – just one lonely tally.
Moshe Hogeg’s team has plenty of speedy wingers, but they have no one that can finish and put the ball into the goal. They had one such player in Anthony Varenne, but he was sent packing to Beersheba during the winter transfer window and sports director Yossi Benayoun didn’t find a replacement or even look to fix the problem which has plagued the team since the preseason.
Yes, Beitar has 43 goals in 29 matches, which is the third best goal total in the league and it has scored in bundles against the bottom of the league. But in the games against the top four teams – Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Beersheba and Hapoel Tel Aviv – Jerusalem has scored a grand total of six goals in 11 contests while giving up 12 goals and sporting a record of three wins, four draws and four losses. That’s just not enough if you are trying to win the league or even qualify for Europe at the stage
It’s a lot easier to play the likes of Ness Ziona, Ashdod SC and Hapoel Hadera, whereas Beitar can use Freddy Plumain, Levi Garcia & Co. to tear up the wings, but when you are playing the better clubs in Israeli action you’ve got to have someone who can bang in the ball.
The blame can’t be totally placed on Levy – it also falls on Benayoun for not filing this glaring hole.
Of course, when you play the game of soccer you need two to tango and Maccabi Tel Aviv is a guilty party as well. Without midfielder Dan Glazer, who is arguably Vladimir Ivic’s most valuable player this season, Maccabi is certainly a different team, no question.
But the Serbian maestro had a perfect replacement for his MVP in Ruslan Barsky, who can play the part pretty well, however he chose to park him on the bench.
Without the ability of one of its top central defensive midfielders, one who knows how to spread the pitch with the best in the business, Maccabi had problem after problem in going on the attack and settled into a shell that only allowed for select chances that barely threatened the Beitar goal.
Defensively, the yellow-and-blue was brilliant as usual and recorded its 24th clean sheet while having only conceded seven goals in 29 league contests, so it’s certainly hard to argue that defense doesn’t win championships.
Maccabi captain Sheran Yeini said following the game that the players expected a different type of look, a different style, of match from Beitar and that’s why they had trouble creating chances.
If that was the case, Ivic should have used one or two of his five substitutes to change it up a bit early on and find a solution to the problem at hand. Bringing in Barsky and the offensive minded Eylon Almog in the 88th minute was about as big of a risk as Ivic was going to take on the night.
Of course, Maccabi wants to go undefeated and cap off what looks to be Ivic’s final year in charge of the club in order to go out in style. But the soccer witnessed on Monday night wasn’t exactly earth-shattering as the bench boss played not to lose the game. Instead, the coach chose to play it safe rather than go for the win, and move even that much closer to the league championship.
Anti-soccer can win titles, but as the game returns to the forefront after the coronavirus break the teams need to provide as much action as possible for those fans who can’t be in the stands but who are watching at home.
Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents ( Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi at