Eran Zahavi is unlikely to be a name that you know much about in the footballing world. Unless you’re from Israel of course, where you’d normally refer to him as the Tel Aviv version of Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the last two-and-a-bit seasons Zahavi has played 71 league games, bagging 60 league goals, at an average of a goal every 98 minutes. He also bagged five goals in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s four tricky Champions League qualifying games, against Basel and Viktoria Plzen – almost single-handedly guaranteeing Tel Aviv Champions League football this month and finishing the qualifying period as the competition’s top scorer.
A quick look further down his CV, and in the last two years not only has he won the Israeli Golden Boot twice, he’s also been Israel’s footballer of the year twice.
It’s a fairly impressive list of figures and stat-bombs, and if most of those achievements had come in a stronger league then you could put your house on the fact he’d be a lot shorter than 13/2 to score anytime against Chelsea in Wednesday’s Champions League Group G opener.
Chelsea have had their worst start to a league campaign since 1988 – back when their average attendance in Division Two was just under 16,000 and Kylie Minogue was number one with I Should be so Lucky. Four points from five games has put Jose Mourinho’s side under more pressure than Wayne Rooney’s barber, but there’s no reason why they should slip up at home to Tel Aviv, where they are 2/13 to pick up three points.
But while it’s hard to imagine Chelsea cocking up at the Bridge, it’s certainly more believable to see them conceding a goal to Tel Aviv. No Premier League side has conceded as many goals as Chelsea this year (12 in five games) and only one team in England’s top seven divisions has a worse defensive record this year than the reigning Premier League champions – The National League South’s Weston Super Mare, a side who have conceded 20 goals in eight games.
So with that in mind, although it’s hard to see past a Chelsea win, there’s certainly a sniff of value in Israel’s very own Cristiano Ronaldo getting on the scoresheet. At anytime, Eran Zahavi might well be worth keeping an eye on at the Bridge.