“The Israeli team will meet the Scottish team” – this sentence has been said so many times in recent years, that it is already difficult to follow. Tonight (Sunday) at 21:45, the Blue and Whites will host the Scots for the second game in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which will be the sixth meeting between the teams in the last two and a half years.
During this period, including the current game, the Israeli team played 22 official games. Six of them against the Scots – certainly an extraordinary figure. Of the previous encounters, four were played in the League of Nations and another in the playoffs for promotion to the Euros.
The balance is the same – two wins for each team and one draw, but as we know well, when the big money was on the table, it was the Scots who came out with their hand on the top. On the other hand, ahead of the upcoming game, the good news is that in its two home games out of the five, the Israeli team won. So just before they meet for the first time in the framework of FIFA (and not of UEFA), ONE presents you with a summary of the previous episodes.
October 2018, Sami Ofer, League of Nations 2018/19, 1: 2 to Israel
The first meeting between the teams since the 1980s was the second game in the new factory at the time – the League of Nations. Israel came after a disappointing loss in Albania and in general after a shocking streak of games – six losses in the last seven official games, and a single victory, over Liechtenstein.
In the 25th minute, Sami Ofer seemed to be continuing the trend. Although Andy Herzog’s side started well, the Scots won a questionable penalty and Charlie Allegro kicked inside to put the visitors in the lead and spectators in the stands saw another drop to the half lagging behind. But then came the second half and with it the team’s first turnaround since 2008. Dor Peretz equalized in the 52nd minute and an own goal by Kieran Tierney in the 74th minute gave the signal for the celebrations in the Israeli team. Dawn of a new day? not exactly.
November 2018, Hampden Park, League of Nations 2018/19, 2: 3 to Scotland
After that victory, the team also defeated Albania and reached the last game at home, again against Scotland, this time away, knowing that a draw would be enough for first place, a guaranteed promotion to the second tier of the League of Nations and the playoffs for promotion to the Euros.
Biram Kiel still gave an advantage in the ninth minute and hopes rose accordingly, but James Forrest recorded the game of his life in the team with a hat-trick for Ariel Harush. Eran Zehavi managed to shrink and in the 88th minute Tomer Hemed could have given Israel the point it needed, but McGregor took a safe goal and the Scots celebrated a great victory.
In retrospect, it must be said, that victory did not have too much significance – because of the change in the format of the League of Nations, Israel in any case rose from the third to the second tier (because it finished second at home, before Albania). And because of the way the Euro qualification method was conducted, Israel’s second place was also enough to advance to the playoffs in the end. But there she was drawn to stay with the top-flight playoffs (Scotland, Serbia and Norway) and got an away game against Scotland, which we will get to later. Still, even if in retrospect it was enough, in the first moment of truth against the Scots the team failed.
September 2020, Hampden Park, League of Nations 2020/21, 1: 1
About two years have passed and the world is completely different. The days are the days of Corona, but before the British mutation, and this time about 300 spectators were allowed to enter Hampden Park and watch the teams. Also in the Israeli national team, this was the beginning of a new era with Willy Rotensteiner for the first time on the lines as coach, after replacing Andy Herzog. He had hoped to open on the right foot, but it did not go.
The game opened the League of Nations campaign for both teams and ended in a points split. The Scots again went down to the half in the lead with a goal from Ryan Christy (and perhaps all of those penalties were a hint of the future to come), but in the 73rd minute a moment of magic from Eran Zehavi gave a precious point. However, for the two teams the game was mostly a preparation for the really big game between them, a month later.
October 2020, Hampden Park, Euroleague playoffs, 0: 0 (3: 5 on penalties)
The really big moment between the two teams came five months ago in the playoff semifinals on the rise to the Euros. The Israeli team has never been to the tournament, the Scots were last in 1996, and both teams knew they were two wins away from the illegal immigration.
They both came to the important game bruised, with many players missing due to the corona virus. It was a game in which more than two coaches wanted to win, they mostly did not want to lose, and thus ended their 90 minutes with a poor quality 0-0, and the other 30 minutes did not rise to a high level, to say the least. The game ended in a penalty shootout where Eran Zehavi missed Israel’s first kick, the Scots captured all their kicks and won 3: 5. Again, in the moment of truth it was the Scots who came out with their hand on the top.
It was a heartbreak for Rotensteiner’s team and especially for Eran Zehavi, who wept bitterly at the end, after before the game in an unforgettable speech he promised that he would not end his career in the team without a big tournament. In the meantime he stays and keeps trying. The Scots continued to win on penalties in Serbia as well and advanced to the Euros for the first time in 25 years.
November 2020, Netanya, League of Nations 2020/21, 0: 1 to Israel
A month after the defeat in Scotland, the Israeli team hosted the Scots for the last game in the League of Nations, and it must be said that it was also an important game. The Scots knew a win would give them first place at home and promotion to first place, while the blue-and-whites would have been relegated to third place if they had lost points and Slovakia would have beaten the Czech Republic at the same time, then Rotensteiner’s team would have finished last at home.
But this time it was Manor Solomon who celebrated a debut goal in the national uniform and gave Rotensteiner’s team a victory, leaving it in the second tier and also the Scots (after the Czech Republic finally won the parallel match and passed them). At the time we still thought it was Rotensteiner’s last game as coach, but since then it has been decided he will stay and now he will coach the team for the fourth time against Scotland out of nine games in the role on the lines. Good luck.