Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel) (Away)
UEFA Cup - Group G

Thursday 8th November 2007


Unbeaten in their last four home European games, Hapoel Tel Aviv might benefit from the long journey away sides have to make to play in Israel.  But they have a decent track record in the competition, having knocked out Chelsea in the second round of this competition in 2001-02 winning 2-0 at home and  drawing 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.  They also beat Rangers 2-1 in the first game of the UEFA Cup group stages last season.

One of our players will find the surroundings familiar, as Paul Robinson was in the Leeds side in 2002-03, as they beat the Israeli team 1-0 at home and 4-1 away.  Hopefully, he will have a quiet night of it, as Hapoel currently sit bottom of their league without a league win this season, having played eight games.  With a local derby coming up against Maccabi Tel Aviv coming up at the weekend and their rivals sitting one place above them, they might have more important league points on their mind and it is rumoured that some of the Hapoel star players will be rested for this UEFA Cup tie.

They lost their first group game like Spurs did, but did not put up too much of a fight of it against Anderlecht as they went down 0-2.  They have an athletic keeper from Nigeria in the shape of Vincent Enyeama, but three of their players might be missing after being suspended following their attendance at a casino after the Anderlecht game.  With other players sitting the match out, it might be easier for Spurs than they might have expected, although we are hardly firing on all cylinders ourselves.

The "Berbatov to go" rumours may well affect Ramos' selection.  Does he play Bent and Defoe who did well in the first half on Saturday or does he go with Berba and Keane, hoping that the Bulgarian puts in a good performance to bump up his asking price and help us progress to the next stage of the competition ??  A tough one, but I am sure that Ramos has the best interests of the club at heart rather than any particular player.

With the Israeli side already beaten in this competition and with tougher games for them to come, I would expect Tottenham to ease to victory, although they can expect a committed performance from their hosts and they might struggle to put together some flowing football, as they did in Cyprus in the previous round.  Having said that, I reckon the final score will be ...

PREDICTION : -  Hapoel Tel Aviv  0   Tottenham Hotspur   2


HAPOEL TEL AVIV :  - (-); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee), Ricardo Rocha, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Anthony Gardner (all ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); - (-); - (-); 


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Hapoel Tel Aviv   0   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-2)

UEFA Cup - Group G
Venue : -  Bloomfield Stadium
Thursday 8th November 2007
Kick Off :  4.00 p.m. (London time)
Crowd :   10,000
Referee :  Grzegorz Gilewski (Poland)
Weather :  -  Dry, warm
Teams : - 
Hapoel Tel Aviv :


Bakshi (Manzor 46)
Gabriel Dos Santos     

Abutbul (Abedi 46)
Dego (Goncalves Antebi 58)
Badir (c)

Fabio Junior Pereira

Unused subs: 
Ben Shaanan

Tottenham Hotspur :


YP Lee

Jenas (Boateng 68     )
Malbranque (Defoe 56     )

Keane (c) (Bent 68)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Hapoel Tel Aviv

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Hapoel Tel Aviv


Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 26
Berbatov 31

Cards : -  
Hapoel Tel Aviv

Shish (foul) 41
Dos Santos (ungentlemanly conduct) 41 

Shish (second yellow - foul) 50

Tottenham Hotspur 

Berbatov (ungentlemanly conduct) 41
Defoe (foul) 62
Boateng (foul) 90  


Match Report : -  
In a performance that saw a number of players play well below the level expected of them, Tottenham still proved good enough to win 2-0 against a struggling Hapoel Tel Aviv side.

The passing and control of the ball proved poor throughout and some players seemed less than determined to exert themselves against a side who could have taken the lead early in the match, but once one of their players was sent off five minutes after half-time, the game slowed even further and Spurs failed to show the desire to punish the Israelis.  And there lies some of the problem.  The lack of urgency in the play left Hapoel able to get players behind the ball and stifle a Spurs side, who lack a midfielder with a creative, defence splitting pass.

I truly hope that having got the game won, they were playing within themselves to save something for Sunday's game against Wigan Athletic, which is a must win match and one which they must show a lot more effort, as the visitors will be putting in the sweat to make sure they pull away from the bottom of the table.

One thing about the way we are playing at the moment is the insistence in passing the ball around at the back.  It's fine when there is no pressure on the defenders, as it pulls players to them and opens up space for others, but the loose passing around the edge of our penalty area or across the pitch leaves opponents a possibility to nick the ball away and have a chance of scoring.  And that just what happened when Chimbonda tried to pass to YP Lee, Natcho took the ball and fed Pereira, who hit a shot that Chimbonda got back to get it in the way of.  A couple of minutes later, the favour was returned when Pereira played in Natcho, but he pulled his shot wide with a less than cleanly hit shot.

Aaron Lennon had a fine first half when he was running at young defender Backshi, who gave him free rein to attack him, but once past him, the Spurs winger failed to produce a decent final ball to a Spurs striker.  Not that he was alone, as Steed Malbranque was the sole Tottenham player who hit some good balls into the area.

When we were all looking for some evidence that Dimitar Berbatov was going to back up his words with actions, he seemed to spend a lot of his time thinking that other players were inside his head, as they should have known exactly where he was going to run/pass the ball.  His shoulder shrugs, facial expressions and animated pointing (perhaps the most animated he got) told a different story to the ones that hit the media yesterday morning.  Having been annoyed that Keane had not run where he wanted him to, he lashed a shot wildly high and wide from over 25 yards when the ball fell to him later in the move.  It was something that was noticeable throughout the team as Spurs players seemed to be critical of each other as the game wore on.

Natcho hit a long range effort straight at Robinson before Tottenham finally broke the deadlock with a piece of quality finishing.  Keane gave the ball wide to Malbranque on the left, the midfielder took on his man and dinked a cross into the middle of the penalty area, where Keane had run on to hit a controlled low volley past a static keeper.  There was a certain amount of relief after recent results and the game allowed Tottenham to press on, as Hapoel's confidence crashed.

The wide open spaces in the Spurs end made you wonder why the number of tickets released to Tottenham was so limited, as although the trip was expensive, I am sure there might have been more there had seats been released for them.  They had something more to celebrate five minutes later, when Dos Santos blocked a shot by Berbatov', the ball flew to Malbranque on the left and there was an action replay of his cross, but this time it was higher and found Berbatov's head.  The Bulgarian headed the ball down near the left hand post, back where the keeper came from to bulge the net and give Tottenham a 2-0 lead. 

Spurs could have made it three minutes later, when Berba broke through two players to hit a shot that Emeyama saved, but Keane hit the rebound goal-wards, only for it to be deflected wide off Dos Santos.  Robbie claimed that it had been a hand that took the ball away from goal, but the Polish ref wasn't really bothered and a corner was all that was given.  Just before half time, Chimbonda rose unchallenged to head a corner narrowly over the bar, when perhaps he should have done better and that was about the last decent chance we had until the final minutes of the match, as Spurs appeared content to knock the ball about - which was something they didn't always do that well.

The first action of the second half saw Hapoel almost fluke a goal with a cross that flew over Robinson and slid across the goal and went wide, but then a rash challenge from behind on Lennon saw Shish sent off for his second foul on the little Spurs man.  Tottenham then had even more space and possession, but failed to make the most of either, as their opportunity to find some tempo and confidence in a goal glut wasn't taken.

Malbranque was through on the right and pulled his shot across goal, Jenas fired over from distance and when Jermaine put Keane through, he also pulled his shot wide of the far post rather than testing the keeper.  Bringing on Defoe, Bent and Boateng for Malbranque, Keane and Jenas, perhaps Ramos was looking to give them more recovery time before Sunday's Premier League match, but it did little to help Tottenham in this game.

As the game fizzled out, Hapeol got a bit braver and had more time around the Tottenham box, with Chen hitting a very long range effort off target, then Natcho looked to have a good opening until Paul Stalteri produced a timely tackle.  Thirteen minutes from time, Paul Robinson brought out a good save as he rushed from his line to thwart Fabio Junior.  Spurs hit back with Zokora coming as close as he ever has to scoring for Spurs, with a shot just wide after a run through the Hapoel defence and the best chance fell to Bent with two minutes left, as he was played in by Defoe and he took the ball around the keeper before shooting with his left foot, which was a weak effort that beat a defender in front of goal, but hit the post and bounced out.

The performance was good enough to beat Hapoel, but might not be to beat any side a bit better than them.





Reaction : -



So, Dimitar Berbatov enters the long line of miserable gits who played up front for Spurs, following in the scoring boots of Steve Archibald and Chris Armstrong.

Why he has to show such negative body language, I am at a loss to explain, but the only way he will get a move away from White Hart Lane that suits him is to score goals and help Tottenham gain something out of this season, however small that might be.

I heard someone discussing his current attitude on TalkSport with a German journalist who said when Berba played for Leverkusen, he would have one good game and then three where he was not at the races (or he might have well had been).  Everyone was shocked with his performance over the 2006-07 season for Spurs.  But now, we might be seeing the Berbatov of former years.

Whatever happens, we need his goals, whether in the short or long term.  If he goes, then we will get big bucks for him and we have three good forwards in the ranks anyway. 

And I am sure he will be happy when he pulls on a different colour shirt ... for a season, at least.


What has happened to some of our players since last season ??

Dawson seems to have lost confidence and the ability to get in the way of the ball.

Chimbonda can't control a football and seems to think he is now a midfielder a lot of the time.

Berbatov has turned into a player who thinks no-one else in the team is good enough to play alongside him.

Robinson can't hold a ball.

Lennon can't go past a man.

About the only consistent one among them is Robbie Keane.

I think Ramos might find it hard to progress the current bunch much further, unless he starts showing them videos of last season's matches.




Other scores this weekend :
Group A
Nuremberg (GER) 0 Everton 2 Thursday
Larissa (GRE) 2 Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS) 3 Thursday
Group B
FC Copenhagen (DEN) 0 Panathinaikos (GRE) 1 Thursday
Aberdeen (SCO) 1 Locomotive Moscow (RUS) 1 Thursday
Group C
Mlada Boleslav (GRE) 1 Villareal (SPA) 2 Thursday
Fiorentina (ITA) 6 Elfsborg (SWE) 1 Thursday
Group D
Rennes (FRA) 1 Brann (NOR) 1 Thursday
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 0 Basel (SWI) 0 Thursday
Group E
Spartak Moscow (RUS) 2 Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 1 Thursday
Toulouse (FRA) 2 Sparta Prague (CZE) 3 Thursday
Group F
Aris Salonika (GRE) 3 Crvena Zvezda (SER) 0 Thursday
Bayern Munich (GER) 2 Bolton Wanderers 2 Thursday
Group G
Aalborg (DEN) 1 Anderlecht (BEL) 1 Thursday
Group H
Galatasary (TUR) 2 Helsingborg (SWE) 3 Thursday
Austria Vienna (AUS) 1 Bordeaux (FRA) 2 Thursday


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