Beitar Must Disrupt the Polish Waltz

That Wisla Krakow is unhappy with Mariusz Pawelek, that the team administration is calling him the weak link, does not make him an absolute failure.

At the goal line he is excellent, his instincts are good, and it is nearly impossible to score when he is between the posts.

But when he leaps for high shots, Wisla fans have learned to cover their eyes.

Compared to him, even Israel's Dudu Awat and Nir Davidovich emerge as heroes.

So should Beitar just throw forward Sebastian Abreu - nicknamed "El Loco" - at Wisla and hope for the best?

No. The Polish coach knows very well what his goalie is worth (not very much), and has therefore erected a wall of defenders in front of him.

These are tall players capable of heading away nearly any well-placed shot on goal. Brazilian defender Cleber is a terrific header, and his advanced age (in the soccer world) of 34 gives him immense experience.

Beitar will have to forgo an aerial assault in favor of a ground attack.

Some will say that Wisla has strong defensive midfielders, but that its attacking midfielders are heavy and technically deficient.

This is not exactly inaccurate, but if Beitar ignores Mauro "The Bull" Cantoro, this will be at its peril.

The Argentine-Pole is Krakow's leader, its brain, and a terribly efficient midfielder. His foot is where many a play has begun that later turned into a goal.

Okay, so Beitar should concentrate on containing Cantoro?

Not quite. "The Bull" is indeed one of Wisla's stronger elements, but Marek Zienczuk is its fastest and therefore most dangerous midfielder.

None of Beitar's best defensemen - Arik Benado, Tomer Ben-Yosef or Shimon Gershon - can match him for speed, so they will have to contain him with muscle.

Pawel Brozek should give Beitar pause, but there is no reason to fear him.

True, he scored 23 goals in 27 games last year. But Polish national coach Leo Beenhakker hesitated to put him on the roster, and he had good reason why.

Brozek has ups and downs, both in his game play and his emotional state. Barak Ithzaki is a stronger, steadier player, and with the help of Cristian Alvarez and Tvrtko Kale, should be able to deliver a blow to his equilibrium.

Knocking the Poles' waltz out of step can only work in Beitar's favor.