Who are Hapoel Be’er Sheva?

Who are Hapoel Be’er Sheva?
September 14, 2016 09:41
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SempreInter.com

Hapoel Be'er Sheva

Club information

Nicknames: Negev’s Pride, The Camels, Crazy Reds.
Founded: May 1 1949.
Nationality: Israeli.
Stadium: Turner Stadium, Beersheba.
Coach: Barak Bachar.

Qualification

Hapoel Be’er Sheva reached the qualifying stages of this season’s Champions League by winning the Israeli Premier League title for the first time in 40 years. More recently, they shocked European football fans and journalists alike by sending top table regulars Olympiacos crashing out in the third qualifying round before crazy two-legged play-off tie versus Celtic proved to be a bridge too far for them to overcome.

Stadium

Frank De Boer’s players can expect an extremely hostile atmosphere when they visit the Turner Stadium on matchday five. Whilst the newly-opened 16,000 arena’s size pales in comparison with Europe’s most established grounds, the fans create an intense atmosphere which is sure to reach new levels when such a renowned club as Internazionale of Milano visit Israel.

Style of play

In their recent double header versus Celtic, we saw the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Hapoel’s style. Despite trailing by three goals, they put the Glaswegian side under an immense amount of pressure at home and almost managed to sneak through on away goals. Tahat’s side appear comfortable in alternating the intensity of their play, which they did so regularly in Beersheba.

They generally set up in a modern-day 4-2-3-1 formation whereby the rigidity of their shape depends entirely on the level of opponent they are facing. Expect Hapoel to be set up ultra-defensively when they visit San Siro this Thursday. They will sit deep and wait for opportunities to counter attack at pace using the strength and guile of their wide players. Their ability to give teams short, sharp shocks is something De Boer will have to be wary of.

However, the high press deployed by Brendan Rodgers in Glasgow simply overawed Hapoel who, in truth, caused very few problems in the first leg barring a chaotic ten-minute spell during which Celtic’s players appeared to lose concentration almost and shipped two goals they should not have.

Inter will have to maintain focus for the whole 90 minutes, both home and away, to beat the Israeli side who, as previously mentioned, shocked 43-time Greek champions Olympiacos whose own European credentials are not to be dismissed.

Key players

Miguel Vítor is the linchpin around whom Hapoel’s defensive organisation is built. Having began his professional career with Benfica, there is no doubt the Portuguese centre back has been educated in a school of footballing excellence. It became apparent throughout the first leg of the play-off tie versus Celtic just how vital Vítor’s presence is. A 5-2 destruction in Glasgow speaks volumes to this.

John Ogu is a huge physical presence for Hapoel and, combined with his ability to fill a number of different positions on the pitch, this makes him one of their most prized assets. The 6ft3in Nigerian has proved himself to be a strong runner with and without the ball. Given Inter’s tendency to be overrun in central areas at times, Ogu is a man the likes of Gary Medel will have to be on alert against.

Elyaniv Barda is very much the talisman of this Hapoel side. The 34-year-old is the club captain having started his career in Beersheba back in 1998. He has a prolific goal tally everywhere he has played in-between his spells with Hapoel with sides such as Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Genk. Due to injury he missed both legs of the play-off round and, again, it showed. Had he been fit, the Israelis might just have had enough to score that decisive third goal.

Verdict

Theoretically, Inter should encounter few problems in defeating Hapoel both home and away. Despite their valiant efforts so far this campaign, they are still relative novices in terms of European competition. Israeli sides have never been noted for their ability to travel well and, given their disastrous showing at Celtic Park just a few weeks ago, the Pride of Negev look no different to their domestic counterparts. Concentration will very much be the name of the game for the Nerazzurri.

For more information regarding Hapoel Be’er Sheva, check out this weeks episode of SempreInter.com’s podcast Studio Inter, where Israeli football journalist Raphael Gellar delivers a detailed background analysis about the club as well as the current squad.

By Jordan Russell
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