National Team Pool – Midfielders
This is another post in a series of articles that Israel Football is publishing on the players available for the National Team. This week we will be talking about the midfield position for Israel. This is undoubtedly the deepest and most competitive part of the National Team. Last campaign Dror Kashtan struggled to find a midfield duo or trio that was effective. Many times he opted to utilise two defensive midfielders with less offensive qualities. In 6 games against Switzerland, Latvia, and Greece, Israel only managed to score five goals. It is my opinion that this formation did not play to the strengths of the national team and that two offensive minded midfielders would be beneficial to the national team as opposed to just one.
– Yossi Benayoun is the face of Israeli soccer at the moment. He plays for one of the world’s biggest clubs, Liverpool FC, with names like Torres and Gerrard along side him. However his performance in the last campaign was forgettable. In many games he often forced things and didn’t look like the old Yossi we had grown to love. However he did play injured and this could have been a contributing factor. Many teams also made an effort to shut him down, which turned out to be an effective strategy, since none of the other players stepped up to fill that void. I don’t forsee any coach leaving him out of the starting eleven unless he is out to injury or moves to a smaller club. Hopefully Yossi can replicate his club form this time around for the National Team and show that he still isn’t too old to contribute.
Due to the revolving door policy in the midfield position; it is hard to guess who will play besides Yossi. It would be safe to say that the team selected for this Wednesday’s friendly against Romania is a selection of the best midfielders that are currently available.
-The first player that I would add in is Gili Vermut, he has been outstanding for Hapoel this season, and has been the creative force behind their Europa League run before falling to Rubin Kazan recently. Gili previously played with AA Gent in Belgium two seasons ago, but he chose to return Israel. It is a decision that has paid off dividends for him and his club. Gili has a great a first touch and is confident on the ball, something that our midfield lacked at times during the last campaign. Gili is a good passer and playmaker, and most importantly he can take some of the pressure off of Yossi Benayoun and provide another attacking threat from the midfield.
– Although he hasn’t been capped yet by the National Team, It is hard to see Israel’s future National Teams without the services of Bibras Natcho. He is only 22 yet already has several seasons of starting experience with Hapoel Tel-Aviv. He is classic deep lying playmaker like Xavi and Pirlo. Although I wouldn’t put him in the same class as those players he does have the potential to reach their level. He is already the best passer available to the National Team, and is an excellent taker of free kicks and corners. Rumors have linked him to Rubin Kazan but it is possible he could move to a different club in the summer because that is when his contract with Hapoel ends. I will be very disappointed if he doesn’t play against Romania this Wednesday.
– Biram Kiyal is already a veteran in the National Team after playing in many of the games last campaign. Most of the time he was a solid but unspectacular player. Kiyal has had a tedency to commit bad fouls, including a silly foul that led to Greece winning its second game against Israel. He needs to work on his defensive play if he is to become an all around good midfielder. He is a good passer and is good at switching the ball to opposites sides of the field. He isn’t an eye popping player, yet he was more consistent than his competition for the defensive midfield position. His place in the team could be jeopardized depending on the next coach and the performance of other players.
– Bibras Natcho’s partner in midfield at Hapoel Tel-Aviv is Avihai Yadin. I would rate him at about the same level as Biram Kiyal right now. In league and European play he has impressed with his composure on the ball and likes to venture forward even though he is more of a defensive or holding midfielder. He is a good tackler but at times makes bad tackles that result in unnecessary yellow cards. In his competitive debut for Israel against Switzerland he looked shaky, and wound up getting a red card after two yellow cards during the game.
– Tamir Cohen is probably the least desirable option right now for the defensive midfielder position. Even though he plays for an English Premier League club, Cohen is only bench player right now after starting much of the season. Tamir isn’t a good passer, but has good speed and height that other candidates for the position lack, not to mention he is a very hard worker. The reason for him being least desirable is that he made several foolish passes and tackles in the last campaing that led directly or indirectly to goals.
All four of these players that are injured have a legitimate shot at taking away the spots of those listed above.
-After being the darling of everyone in Israel and being linked to big clubs all over Europe, Maor Buzaglo has had to recover from an ACL surgery and only just got his first start last week. If he recovers his old form, he will be the fastest midfielder available to the National Team.
–Gal Alberman has been injured the whole season but before he was injured he held the starting midfield postion. His last game against Latvia was so bad though, that he was substituted at half time. He has been training with the first team at Borussia Monchengladbach for a month now so he should be ready to start playing soon.
-After an impressive last two seasons, Aviram Bruchyan has been hobbled by an injury this season and has put off surgery twice. This may come back to haunt him but I wish him the best. I advocated very strongly for him last campaign, even though he played only a little bit for the National Team, I thought he was one of the more impressive players available. I hope he can regain his form.
-The story of this years winter transfer window was Eyal Golasa. The talented central midfielder transferred to the Italian giants Lazio and then changed his mind. Now he has signed a four year contract which probably means Haifa will get a nice transfer fee for him. Golasa is a classic attacking midfielder, much like Yossi Benayoun but more solidly built. He is only 18 years old, so his potential is still very high. If he quickly regains his form from the first part of the seasons expect a call up for Eyal.
Israel has so many talented young options in the midfield. The only player that will be thirty or over next campaign is Yossi Benayoun. This is the future of our team and we need a coach that is good at dealing with and developing young players. Next week we will be profiling the Defenders and Goalkeepers available to the National Team.