Date: Tuesday 31st March 2015
Location: Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem, Israel
Preview for Israel vs Belgium
Our Belgium boys are brimming with confidence following their 5-0 hammering of Cyprus on Saturday night. Marouane Fellaini was the star of the night scoring first-half goals with Benteke, Hazard and debutant Mishy Batshuayi sharing the spoils.
On Tuesday night, the Red Devils face a determined Israeli team who are looking to qualify for their first major competition since the World Cup in Mexico in 1970. Until their 0-3 loss to Wales on Saturday where Gareth Bale scored a double, Israel had a perfect record in the group. Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring for Wales and minutes later Israel had a sending off which they could not recover.
For a team that has Jewish, Arab, Bendoin and African players in the squad, many Israelis see footballing success as a possible way to unite a country with extreme political differences and hostility.
Eli’s Guttmann’s men have been the surprise team of Group B which on paper should be dominated by Belgium and Wales. But Group B is a tough group with the talented Bosnia also pushing for a top spot.
Don’t forget, with the new Euro 2016 format, there are 24 teams the top 2 teams in each of the 6 groups automatically qualify with the best third-placed team and the remaining 8 third-placed teams go into a playoff to find the top 4. So its all to play for.
Source: BBC Sport
So for Israel, this is a real opportunity to reach a major tournament. I know we have a lot of Israeli fans who follow this blog and from what I gather, the fans are passionate and hungry for success. For a team that has Jewish, Arab, Bendoin and African players in the squad, many Israelis see footballing success as a possible way to unite a country with extreme political differences and hostility – such hostility that previously caused the original Israel vs Belgium tie on 9th September to be postponed until tonight.
Belgium vs Israel Squad News
No Januzaj or Lukaku - We were saddened when fan-favourite Adnan Januzaj and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku were not chosen for the Cyprus and Israel double-header. Lukaku is nursing an injury despite fantastic recent form and Januzaj was not selected as Wilmots claims that the young Belgian needs to regain his place in the Manchester United squad to have a chance of featuring again for Belgium. We feel for Adnan, other than those boy-ish good looks, it must be hard to feature in a squad that is under-performing but feels the need to play ‘big names’ where they have splashed cash, including Mata, Di Maria, Herrera, Falcao and co.
Good to see Beneteke on form - Fans were sad that Benteke missed the World Cup through injury but his header against Cyprus showed he still has a big role to play for Belgium. Despite a rocky club season for Aston Villa, Benteke is a huge threat in front of goal and plays the lone-striker role brilliantly in the absence of Lukaku.
All eyes on Tal Ben Haim - THERE’S ONLY ONE TAL BEN HAIM, ONE BEN HAIM …. well, actually there’s two. Tal Ben Haim which translates to ‘ Dew son of life’ (although probably means something different in Israel) is a common name in Israeli football. Israel have a striker called Tal Ben Haim but the one we’re referring to is Tal Ben Haim, the current Captain of Charlton and ex-Chelsea and Portsmouth player. Probably past his best, he is the soul of the team at centre-back and will also be celebrating his 33rd birthday today.
This game is particularly sweet for Rami Gershon (Gent) and Lior Refealov (Club Brugge) who play in the Jupiler league respectively.
Belgium vs Israel Possible Line-Up
Wilmots loves squad rotation – we learnt this at the World Cup. We think Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli will get a run out and although Dembele deserves a place, we think Fellaini’s fine performance against Cyprus will keep him in the squad. We expect Mertens and Mishy Batshuayi also to be involved.
Prediction: Israel 0 – 2 Belgium
We expect Israel to start strong and go all guns blazing but eventually be overpowered by Belgium’s class and depth in squad.