In the main video: Zehavi’s narrator opposite Lyon
The history of Israeli players and the Champions League is a relatively new thing. The factory, in its current configuration, may have existed since 1991, but it was not until 2001 (ten years later) that the first Israeli actor appeared: Haim Revivo, who dragged Fenerbahce (in which he was a key and leading player) to the home stage for the first time in its history. Fener fell to a murderous home with Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen (who would reach the final that year and surrender only to the left foot of Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid) and Lyon, finishing it with zero points and two right-handed goals – one of them, was a memorable goal by Revivo at Bay Arena.
Since then, quite a few Israeli players have passed through the prestigious factory – five times they even came in an organized team (twice Maccabi Haifa, twice Maccabi Tel Aviv and once again Hapoel Tel Aviv). In honor of the day when another Israeli, Manor Solomon, is recording another season in the Champions League, this time we will try to find the top five – the five best performances of an Israeli player on the main stage of European football. Before that, one note to order: we are only referring to the home stage itself, not the qualifying stage (although the player who did the best qualifying campaign gets very nice honor on this list, thanks to another performance, in a different team). Let’s go!
In fifth place: Yaniv Katan (Maccabi Haifa, 2002/03) – because of the glow
Yes, everyone remembers this campaign thanks to Igbini Yakubu – the super striker who gave first proof of what he is capable of doing on the pitch of the truly great. And there were quite a few other big names – the powerful Nenad Pralia, the fantastic Giovanni Russo, Raymonds Joutouts with the same formidable left foot. But we want to talk about Yaniv Katan: the boy who grew up in Maccabi Haifa, who “already from high school” showed what he is worth in another European setting, and reached the greatest status of an Israeli team ever – without fear. It only took him eight minutes to get to Old Trafford, against Manchester United, and to slip a little to Fabian Bartz between his legs. For one sweet moment, shake the thresholds of European and world football. Katan added another big goal to United’s net (this time to Ricardo, in return for GSP) and added another Katna in the game against Greece against Olympiacos, which helped the Greens grab third place and a ticket to the UEFA Cup. Katan has not really done much since on the continent, but this campaign win Remember – green, and also those that are not.
Watch Haifa’s 0: 3 over Manchester United >>
In fourth place: Beavers Natcho (CSKA Moscow, 2017/18) – because of the stability
Natcho did not score a single goal at this stage, unlike his teammates on the list. Nor did he do it in front of overly strong teams. But Beavers Natcho made it onto that list because of the spot he took on the team he played for. Apparently of all the players who played in a non-Israeli team, Natcho took the most significant part. And so in this campaign: Natcho opened in all six games, was a crucial partner in the three victories and third place – which sent CSKA to the Europa League, where it reached the quarterfinals. Natcho made six appearances in the squad, five more in Europe, and led CSKA To a distant class. Quiet, though, but a player who is hard to beat without. Natcho has appeared with CSKA twice more in the home leg, in all of them he was a key player – he even scored an equalizer against Manchester City, one season earlier.
In third place: Baruch Dego (Maccabi Tel Aviv, 2004/05) – because of Cinderella
At the gate stands Liran Strauber. The three brakes are Avi Stroll, Moshiko Mishalop and Marcio Giovanni. On the right side, Kobi Musa breaks through, on the left side – Salem Abu Siam. In the link? Erez Mesika, Tamir Cohen and Liran Cohen. On offense? Ishmael Edo, and Baruch Dego. This is the 11th match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Ajax on November 3, 2004, and this is the fourth round of the home leg. Maccabi went through a bad first round, with three losses and zero goals. and then? Then came Dego. The boy from Ashdod, who did not really get along with Maccabi Tel Aviv fans, those who still swore in Avi Nemani’s name, defeated everyone – including the empire of Ronald Koeman, with one to win the European Cup later in his career (Wesley Sneijder). He gave an unforgettable double in the stadium Ramat Gan (“Europe cheers for Baruch Dego!” Cried Yoram Arbel in the broadcast position), surrounded by a medium and low group of players, and led them to fame that a club like Maccabi deserves. Another goal in the Yellows’ defeat in Munich against Bayern, and an equally prestigious goal against Juventus in the last round Dego was left with four golden goals, in the highest arena of European football. How big is Dego’s performance? The same team finished the Premier League that season in eighth place.
Watch the duo of Dego who defeated Ajax >>
In second place: Eran Zehavi (Hapoel Tel Aviv, 2010/11 season) – because of the future
The truth is that in retrospect, Zehavi’s time at Hapoel Tel Aviv almost seems like a miss. Given the incredible produce he gave on the other side of the road, when he got there, Eli Guttman’s decisions to put him in more backward positions seem almost incomprehensible. Zehavi’s offensive – we actually saw under Guttman. It was Hapoel Tel Aviv at its greatest professional peak, and Zehavi took it to new heights: he scored three goals in this campaign, but each in color – one great shot at Bloomfield against Benfica, the Grand Final in the same game he completed A pair (with a right-to-left kick – a-la the famous Teddy goal) and of course, the same memorable narrator at the Stade de Gerland against Lyon.The moment Salim tasted sent a high high ball, which Zahavi’s leg met in unimaginable art – and shook the continent. , It was a total first taste; Zahavi will do the really big European campaign in the qualifiers five years later, when at Maccabi – where he was already a key striker and goal player – he will lead the home stage with an unforgettable series of games (including another crazy goal for the resume, in St. Jacobs). But this campaign by Zahavi, is his biggest single appearance (so far) in the strongest class. Precisely in practice.
And in first place: Yossi Benyon (Liverpool, 2007/08 season) – do you need a reason?
The discussion of the question “who is the greatest” will always be a part of our lives, but it seems that at least one question has an answer already now: Yossi Benyon has come as far as possible. He broke all the glass ceilings, went up to the pitches that it is doubtful if another Israeli footballer would go up to again. And the classic example was the 2007/08 season – Rafa Benitez on the lines, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are the big stars, but Benyon is always there. Especially, in one game, on a night that no Israeli fan will ever forget. Not many remember, but Liverpool desperately needed points in the fourth round. It started the home stage badly, with one point out of nine when at its peak a not-so-simple loss to Besiktas in Turkey. But then came the rematch, at Anfield – and Liverpool had Yossi. One goal in the 32nd minute, another in the 53rd minute – and another in the 56th minute, provided Benyon with the first (and only!) Three-pointer of an Israeli player in the strongest factory there is.
Later, Liverpool used their energy to give both Porto – and Marseille – and a place in second place. Later, Liverpool beat Inter; in the quarter-finals, they waved Arsenal, until they reached the semi-final against Chelsea. Chelsea of Abram Grant, the coach who brought Yossi Benayoun to the biggest peak of his career. The first meeting ended in a 1-1 draw. Strange with an own goal by John Arena Risa in extra time, but the real show both Abram and Yossi – saved for reciprocity.Benyon pulled one moment out of the legends, when in the 64th minute he ran and ran and ran to thread a ball at the right moment to Fernando Torres who equalized and sent the In overtime, in overtime, “Abram’s Ass” (a phrase Benyon invented!) Arrived, along with “Ads” in the form of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, and sent the Blues to a historic Champions League final. Yossi Benyon may have been eliminated, but – literally – the most As far as possible, in the largest factory there is. Therefore, he is our winner.
Watch Benyon’s hat-trick against Shiktash >>
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