Both teams playing for pride in this dead rubber between the Israeli side host the French outfit at their temporary home- the HaMoshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.
For all intents and purposes, the 2020-2021 UEFA Europa League campaign had been a failure for both Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Nice. The home side got their campaign away to a promising start following a 3-1 victory over Slavia Prague. However, that’s where their joy in this campaign comes to an end, as they’ve gone on to lose every game since in Group C. In the reverse fixture of tonights game, Nice got the better of Hapoel by a single goal to nil. Much like Hapoel, that is their only victory or points of any kind in this years Europa League to date.
So, with Bayer Leverkusen and Slavia Prague battling it out for top spot in Germany (Both currently sitting on 12 points), this contest is the proverbial ‘Wooden Spoon Match’. Of Course, this won’t always be the case, as from next season there will be a competition transfer for the side that finishes 3rd in a Europa League group into the all new Europa Conference League. Now, whatever clubs opinions may be on a 3rd tier European competition being introduced, it does I suppose provide a new incentive for games towards the end of a group stage campaign (such as tonight’s contest) that would previously have been dead rubbers.
As for this game though, it’s a welcome distraction from otherwise disappointing domestic campaigns so far for both of these sides. There were signs of recovery for Hapoel Be’er Sheva as they beat Beitar Jerusalem 2-1. As for Nice they couldn’t find a way to break down Stade Reims and are winless in all competitions since the 1st November.
Hapoel Be’er Sheva- Rahamim (GK), Twitto, Kabha, Taha (C), Tzedek, Gamoun, Yosefi, Keltjens, Madmoun, Hatuel, Varenne
Substitutes- Acolatse, Dadya, Goldberg, Josue, Keren (GK), Levita (GK), Meli, Ramzi, Sallalich, Shviro
Manager- Yossi Abukasis
OGC Nice- Cardinale (GK) (C), Racine, Robson Bamba, Pionnier, Pelmard, Trouillet, Schneiderlin, Thuram Ulien, Claude Maurice, N’Doye, Rony Lopes
Substitutes- Benitez (GK), Boudoaui, Cretier, Mahou, Prso, Rolland, Seghir, Wade
Manager- Adrian Ursea
1′- Kick Off- This contest gets underway. an opportunity for these players on the fringes of both squads to prove a point.
3′- Positive start for Nice as they press the home side high and win the ball back in a dangerous area. Rony Lopes got a shot away but it was a very tase effort.
8′- Dominant start from the French side. Plenty of possession but no chances as of yet.
13′- By far the best chance of the game so far. Hapoel can’t get out of their own half at the moment. Some good play from Claude Maurice allowed Ndoye to get a shot from distance away. The effort whistles past the post.
18′- The home side have enjoyed their best spell of possession in the last 5 minutes. However, they have still struggled to get over the halfway line. Seemingly a big gulf in quality between the sides right now. You certainly wouldn’t have thought these were two sides level on 3 points.
20′- Bad looking injury for Racine Coly- seemingly an issue with his collar bone after landing awkwardly.
27′- After almost seven minutes of treatment, Coly is stretchered off and replaced by Hicham Mahoud. Mahoud slots in at right back and Pelmard switches to left back.Embed from Getty Images
33′- Good spell of pressure from the home side who have grown into the game. Tomer Yosefi floated the ball cross field to Madmoun who struck the ball wildly over the bar.
36′- First shot on target and it goes to Hapoel Be’er Sheva via a long range effort from Keltjens that stung the gloves of Cardinale.
40′- A very harsh yellow card for Hapoel captain Loai Taha for a handball from very close range at the touchline.
43′- A free kick played in to the Hapoel box by Trouillet and results In a dreadful effort from N’Doye. Sums up the 1st Half so far…
45′- 8 additional minutes in this 1st half- When will this end?
45+1′- Yellow card for Kephren Thuram Ullien following a shocking challenge on Keltjens.Embed from Getty Images
45+3′- Yellow card for Josefi for a late challenge on Trouillet.
Half Time- Hapoel Be’er Sheva 0-0 OGC Nice- Look up the dictionary definition of ‘Forgettable” and this is what you’ll find.
46′- Kick Off in the second period. Pray this game finds a spark from somewhere.
46′- Double Substitution from Nice as Rony Lopes and Morgan Schneiderlin are withdrawn in place of 17 year old Salim Seghir and Hichem Boudouai.
51′- A Scrappy affair this one, with neither side really able to get their foot on the ball. There was me hoping that no pressure and nothing to play for would lead to a goal fest…
54′- An effort that sums this game up perfectly. Tomer Yosefi cuts in from the left hand side onto his right foot and lets fly from 25 yards out. The strike is still rising as I speak.
58′- By far the best opportunity of the game falls to Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Twitto delivered a good ball in towards Madmoun who took a touch and just dragged the ball wide of the post.
62′- Substitute Boudouai did well to find N’Doye, who looks as if he’s forgotten how to make a clean connection with a football. 0-0.
63′- Seghir keeps his composure to pick out N’Doye in the box. Do I need to say anything else?
66′- Double substitution for the home side. Frenchman Gaetan Varenne is replaced by Itamar Shviro whilst Tomer Yosefi is replaced by Portuguese winger Josue.
68′- A free kick to Nice on the left hand edge of the Hapoel penalty area. Taken by Claude Maurice. Wouldn’t have gone in if the goal was twice the height.
72′- GOAL HAPOEL- This game saved by one of the scrappiest goals you will ever see. Gamoun’s pull back for Josue was poor but a double deflection diverted the ball to Rotem Hatuel who had time and space to stroke the ball home from 8 yards out. Nice currently bottom of Group C. For a club with Champions League aspirations this Europa League campaign has been a shambles.Embed from Getty Images
75′- Less than 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute, Itamar Shviro has picked up a groin injury and will be replaced by Ramzi Safouri.
79′- Yellow card for David Keltjens for a cynical challenge on Mahou.
84′- Another Substitution for the home side as goalscorer Rotem Hatuel is replaced by Sintyahu Sallalich.
89′- Hapoel Be’er Sheva very content to sit in and protect what they’ve got.
90′- Yellow card for Shir Tzedek for a clumsy challenge on Boudoaui.
90+2′- It has taken N’Doye 92 minutes to look dangerous, but he latched on to a cross and headed narrowly wide.
Full Time- Hapoel Be’er Sheva 1-0 OGC Nice- A shambolic Europa League campaign ends in defeat in Israel for OGC Nice.
In truth it was two sides packed with fringe players and youngsters in a game with nothing to play for, so it’s hardly surprising it wasn’t a classic. I certainly wouldn’t have recommended this to someone as their first ever experience of watching football, because I’m convinced they would never watch a minute of football again after watching this snooze fest.
Nice dominated the early goings and looked in an altogether different class to the hosts. Whilst the gulf in class between the French Ligue 1 and the Israeli Ligat Ha’al is quite sizeable, the opening 20 minutes were maybe not so representative of the difference between the quality of these two respective outfits. Hapoel Be’er Sheva themselves are a highly successful Israeli side, winning three consecutive league titles from 2015-2018. Meanwhile, Nice are a French side who worked there way up to being a side that challenges for Europe, even achieving Champions League qualification a few years ago when they had Mario Balotelli in their ranks. However, there has been a subsequent decline since the exodus in the hierarchy at Nice, which consequently led to an exodus in players. Whilst they qualified for this season’s Europa League, it was a thoroughly disappointing showing from the side based on the French Riviera.
Following a lengthy injury stoppage, the home side grew into the game and started mounting more meaningful attacks. Following a couple changes from Adrian Ursea at half time in which he introduced two young talents, the fluidity of Nice seemed to evaporate and they were put on the back foot by a buoyed Hapoel Be’er Sheva side. Whilst the home side did have the better of proceedings in the 2nd half, it was a positively scrappy game that was very stop start in all honesty. However, in the 72nd minute, the goal game for Hapoel in perhaps unsurprisingly scrappy fashion. The home side were more than happy to sit back and protect what they had following this breakthrough and saw out a match day 6 victory.
Sitting 10th in the Ligat Ha’al, Hapoel Be’er Sheva will look to carry this positivity into their game with Kiryat Shmona. Meanwhile, Nice will see the back of their pathetic Europa League campaign and will look to mount a charge to earn a return to Europe for next season. That starts with a tough home game against Stade Rennes.
Thanks for reading,