Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Israel March 2010

Maccabi Herzliya 1 Ironi Ramat HaSharon 0

In the Liga Leumit (2nd level) this match set the tone for the extended weekend - few goals and a lack of quality near goal.

The home side played better in the second half after Ramat HaSharon had passed well in the first without threatening too much.

The winner came from some good dribbling a chip over the goalie.
I'd taken the train to Herzliya for a very reasonable 8 shekels but paid more than ten times that for the taxi back to Tel Aviv (it being Friday afternoon)

Maccabi Petah Tikva 0 Hapoel Petah Tikva 0

The Petah Tikva derby in the Municipal stadium watched by 6,000 fans.

The ground comprises two sides with the 'away' fans opposite in the open stand and the 'home' supporters in the covered main stand. Both had plenty of flags.

Not too far away the new stadium is going up, though from a distance viewed through the undergrowth, it seemed to be progressing slowly.

Maccabi edged the fast paced first half but both teams struggled to find a killer pass.

That continued into the second half.

Hapoel had a man sent off for two yellow cards, the second for 'simulation', but they held out OK for the draw.

I took the 51 sherut back, via Ramat Gan, to central Tel Aviv.

Hapoel Beersheva 1 Bnei Sakhnin 0

The away side started better and passed well but as usual lacked a good final ball.

Typically the first half was goalless.

But entering the second period Beersheva came out with more purpose, created some half chances and eventually got a penalty. This was scored and they should have got at least one more as Sakhnin pressed for an equaliser and left themselves open to counter attacks.

A decent crowd of 5,000 attended including the 'camels' and 'south boys' fans.

Beersheva is in the Negev desert and though it might be somewhat unfair to call it a one camel town it doesn't attract too many tourists.

Maccabi Haifa 1 Maccabi Tel Aviv 0

Haifa had a lot more activity especially around the packed Kiryat Eliezer stadium.

This win, from another penalty, consolidated Maccabi's grip on the leadership of the Israeli Premier League. They are virtually certain to retain their title.

Though not at their best the home side were helped when Mayuka was sent off in the first half.

Maccabi Tel Aviv played pretty well with ten men, holding out until the 83rd minute when top scorer Arbeitman slotted the (retaken) spot kick.

I strolled back to the German Colony for a couple of Araks and enjoyed the scenery around the impressive Baha'i gardens.

So not exactly a goalfest in Israel but a welcome respite from the English winter.

I took the Easyjet route back joined by a record number of babies (15) plus sundry infants.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Italy February 2010

Juventus 0 Ajax 0 in the Europa League.

Juventus had a 2-1 lead going into this second leg game and they completed the job reasonably comfortably in the Stadio Olimpico.

Ajax brought their hardcore ultras who I joined for a short while as they walked along 'Green Street' (Via Sacchi) towards the ground.

The away section was full and overall the crowd, 16,400, was pretty good for a Juventus Europa League match.
The Italians should have wrapped it up in the first half as they came close with a number of headers.
Ajax did play better in the second period when Juve consolidated to preserve their advantage.

Christian Eriksen, a recognised talent, showed good feet and the occasional shot but Ajax lacked a cutting edge.
It was only when Manninger, in for Buffon, had a couple of uneasy moments that the Dutch might have had some hope.

Vicenza 0 Citadella 2 in Serie B.

A local derby involving two teams in mid-table watched by around 8,000.

The stadium is of medium size, mainly open, with a covered main stand. The fans from Cittadella were in the left hand end and their counterparts in the better occupied end to the right.

Though the home side benefited from some good passing by Sgrigna it was Cittadella who took the lead after a defensive error allowed Carteri through to be brought down for a penalty, from which Pesoli scored.

Vicenza developed some pressure and missed a good chance near the end but the away side sealed the win with a last minute breakaway goal by the impressive Iunco.

Incidentally Vicenza produced at least three 'newspaper' style programmes and one official version.

Padova 0 Torino 1 in Serie B.

Despite Padova being second from bottom a decent crowd turned out on a sunny but coldish afternoon.

The 'programme' commemorated a game played in February 1949 between the two sides which ended 4-4. The Torino team was then 'Il Grande Torino' the great Turin side that would perish some months later in the Superga plane tragedy.

This (lesser) Torino team had support from a small group of ultras, far less than Ajax, but they looked somewhat similar except the Italians had sunglasses.

Their team got the win in the second half after top scorer Bianchi was put through to shoot home.

Though the Padova leading scorer Di Nardo worked hard up front the home side couldn't manage an equaliser and the fans went home disappointed.

I'd walked the good 45 minutes or so from the station to the stadium but took the bus back even though it was, as a helpful Padova fan said 'sempre ritardo'. Nevertheless I made my train.