Israel is coming off a home loss to Croatia. Greece is coming off a confidence boosting win over Latvia. The Greeks are in great defensive form. The Israelis are missing the greatest player of their generation – Yossi Benayoun – due to injury.
All signs, then, point to a Greek win in this crucial Group F Euro 2012 qualifier today from Karaiskaskis Stadium in Greece.
The Israelis need a point, at minimum, to keep their Euro 2012 qualification hopes alive. 3 points would be a marvelous shock to all – and while the manager Luis Fernandez has received a lot of flack from the Israeli media over the past few days, the Blue and Whites do have a chance to get something out of this game:
Greece will be without Vassilios Torossidis, which plays to Israel’s advantage.
Even without Benayoun, I think Israel can muster a draw in this qualifier. It may not be enough to get the Benayoun-less Israelis to Euro 2012, but what it will do, is inspire the team to believe there is still a “chance,” at qualification. A draw would put Israel on 5 points after 4 games, and with games still against Croatia (away) and Greece (home), Israel would of course control their own destiny.
The country’s chances of qualification will become slimmer without a win tonight, but I think the Blue and Whites can’t win without Benayoun and the suspended Tal Ben-Haim, the country’s two most experienced players other than goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.
So a draw it is then. 1 – 1 is my pick and that result will keep Israel alive in their qualification dream, with just barely enough hope to continue fighting for the remainder of the campaign…
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