Beitar Jerusalem vs Sloboda by DamirJ
Beitar Jerusalem was obviously at least a bit better side in the first leg of first qualifying round of Europa League away in Bosnia to Sloboda, but the team had to get satisfied with a goalless draw only. However, they now have a perfect chance to improve and seal the qualification with an easy victory in front of their own fans this time.
Overall, it was obvious that the Israeli side had much more of the individual quality and experience, but also that they are in quite early stage of preparations. They have quite an experienced side in comparison to Sloboda, but they have only 1-3-1 record in front of own fans in Europa League so far, so the team is desperate to show that they can compete at such level. Last season, they managed to progress over Osmanlispor, but suffered exclusion to Charleroi later on.
Their roster consists of decent domestic players mostly, but with addition of Spanish defender Jesus Rueda, who is known for many seasons spent with Valladolid, but also full back/midfielder Claudemir who played for Portuguese side National and Dutch winger Arsenio Valpoort who spent some of his career with Ferencvaros and RKC most recently.
Sloboda's main concern in the first leg was not to concede a goal, at least that's how the team looked like on the field and they suceded it. The side was several times exposed in danger, but with a little luck and inefficient from Isralis, they managed to walk away with quite a positive result for their standards.
At the same time, they did create several decent chances in offense, but didn't show anything special. They are coming from the best season in their history, as the team took the second position at the table, but also managed to reach the finals of the Cup - however, they are now heading into the new season with a task to repeat it, which will be almost impossible for them. The club has signed some more experienced players during the transfer window, but they still look like below average squad for Europa league qualifiers.
Between signed players are defender Dzidic who played for Shakhtyor Karagandy for six years, but also left back Ivan Fatic (had some seasons in Italy) but without playing much of competitive football recently. Also there is full back ALeksandar Lazevski who comes from Serbian side Mladost, but previously played for Partizan and Ukrainien side Goverla.
Even though Israeli league won't start soon, I believe Beitar has what it takes to overcome this obstacle without much problems in front of own fans. They showed that they are more quality side in the first leg and now should only confirm it.