Soccer / Five-a-side / Barcelona on Verge of Moving Up Into Champions Group

In the Champions Group, the Brazilian team of Esporte Clube Bahia won 6-5 last week against Manchester City in one of the greatest games so far, putting them in third place.

With one last set of five-a-side soccer matches before the end of the regular season of the Ghetton League, the final slate of games tomorrow constitutes an in-or-out challenge for many teams still hoping to squeak into the playoffs.

In the Champions Group, the Brazilian team of Esporte Clube Bahia won 6-5 last week against Manchester City in one of the greatest games so far, putting them in third place. In case of victory against Bayern next weekend, the Brazilians will most probably face Barcelona in the quarterfinals. Barcelona is the leading team of the Europe Group, and if it holds that position would earn the right to jump into the Champions quarterfinal bracket.

Chelsea-Manchester United was the big match of the last round, with the Argentinian team winning once again even against a solid team like United, ranked the second best team of the whole league. Ari Goloboff scored a hat trick, while Gaston Hilman earned a brace. Elu Frajlich and Damian Abulafia added a goal each in the 7-3 triumph for Chelsea.

Sporting Lisboa-Bayern was another great show, where only a one-goal difference would probably decide the destiny of both teams. With a goal by Alex Assedo in the last minute, Sporting won 4-3 against the German team and now their qualification into final phase looks like a sure thing.

The loser, Bayern, will probably play its last game next Saturday against Bahia. The team lead by Emmanuel Heymann will need just one point against Bahia, but at the same time will need both City and Arsenal to lose in order to move onto the playoffs.

City also looks like it will miss out on the playoffs. The Citizens had an unlucky evening, as Daniel Markovits, Thedore Bokhobza, Rafael Hayon and Daniel Tisei looked like they were pretending to be the team that played more dominantly earlier in the season. City will now have to beat top-rated Manchester United and hope for an Arsenal defeat.

For Arsenal, a victory against Sporting would qualify them as the third or fourth team of the group, despite having lost three out of seven games. Raffi Rubin, coach of the Gunners, is putting in place some strategies to boost the performances of its team, who can count on Michele Disegni, Yuri Arazi and Daniel Khordian finally back from injuries.

In the other group, Barcelona is almost sure of a victory against Shakhtar, and this would put them as the regular season champion, granting them access to the Champions group quarterfinals and a pass for the Europa Finals.

Milan had a chance to reduce the goal difference gap with Barcelona and aim for the first spot, but their last match against Ajax was not as simple as planned. The seven goals scored by the Dutch will probably put the Italian team behind Barcelona. Milan will play against Maccabi next week, another difficult obstacle for the team led by Benjamin Namdar and Yigal Halwani.

The Swedish team of FC Hakoach was looking for victory against Maccabi in order to qualify for the next phase, but this European derby ended 3-3. For FC Hakoach the next game against Tottenham will be its last chance to advance to the quarterfinals.

Boca Juniors has also a chance left to qualify, but they will need a victory against Ajax, and hope for a victory for the Spurs against FCH.

The league announced this week that the finals are planned for March 23 at Goaltime Tel Aviv.

Elad Levin