Ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Europa League group stage decider, we caught up with Israeli journalist Benny Glowinsky to get the lowdown on Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
This is a decisive game of the Europa League group - how will Be'er Sheva approach the game?
They couldn't be in better shape. The 5-0 win over FC Ashdod last Saturday was the eighth consecutive win in the league and they lead by 10 points over second place Maccabi Tel Aviv. They have scored 35 goals in 12 matches so far, including a sequence of 5-1, 5-1 and 5-0 in the last four games.
What chance do the Israeli fans think they have of qualifying?
After defeating Inter Milan twice (only team in history to do it in a group stage), the fans believe the team can achieve the right result and qualify for the next phase. The defeats against Sparta Prague were disappointing, but many fans will travel to England with hope and belief. After years of heart breaking, the fans are in dreamland. The fans have many superstitions and they are afraid of jinx. They call it "Ama Ya'amik".
How big is this game for Be'er Sheva for their season?
It’s a huge game. Be'er Sheva won the championship last season after 40 years, and now they want to win the domestic treble, and to reach as far as they can in Europa League.
Are there any differences with the Hapoel team to the one that played against Southampton in September?
Basically it's the same team and formation. Maor Melikson who started in the 0-0 draw in Israel, is currently injured.
Has Be'er Sheva's view of the Europa League changed in any way?
Manager Barak Bakhar rotates the squad regularly and rated as the best manager in Israel, aged only 37. They will field their strong XI. No doubt about it.
Who are the players that Southampton need to keep a close eye on Thursday?
Maor Buzaglo is in great form, and he is a free kick and crossing specialist. Maharan Radi (winger) and Anthony Nwakaeme (striker) are also in top form.
Benny Glowinsky is a journalist for One newspaper in Israel – one.co.il