Israeli champs to attempt the impossible

Hapoel Be'er Sheva needs to beat Scottish powerhouse Celtic by 3 goals in order to advance to Champions League.

Shai Landesman , | updated: 12:33 PM

Hapoel Be'er Sheva
Hapoel Be'er Sheva
Photo: Flash 90

After the rather deflating 5-2 defeat in Glasgow at the hands of Scottish champion Celtic last week, Hapoel Be'er Sheva will take the field for their home leg at Turner stadium tonight (Tuesday) praying for a miracle.

In order to advance to the lucrative and prestigious group stage of the European Champions League (ECL) - the top club soccer competition in the world - the defending Israeli league champions will need to beat Celtic by at least three goals, a very tall order.

Hapoel manager Barak Bachar will have to field an attacking starting lineup, and the team will be sending many player forward in the hope of scoring an early goal and inspire some hope that the impossible can be done.

Celtic, for their part, are sure to try to take advantage of the many counterattacking opportunities that will be afforded them by Be'er Sheva's desperation. It will be crucial for Hapoel to avoid conceding, as any Celtic goal will put the tie almost certainly beyond reach for the Reds.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (formerly of Liverpool) basically said as much about his team's tactics going into the match, and even had some positive things to say about his visit to Israel:

"We can't be sure they'll put pressure on us right from the start, but at some point they know they have to attack because they're at home and they're a team who can score goals. Their manager has done a wonderful job with them and they're the premier team in Israel, but we have to do our job. Israel is a wonderful country with wonderful people."

Be'er Sheva coach Bachar tried to maintain an optimistic tone going into the final preparations:

"We understand the reality we're faced with, and the difference in quality between the teams. But we're also optimistic. Things like this have happened before in soccer, we'll do our best to remember that and do absolutely everything we can to make it happen for us too."

One thing is certain. If Hapoel do somehow manage to pull off the comeback win by the required margin, they will give their home fans - and Israeli sports fans everywhere - a night they will never forget.