Conference LeagueHe came, he saw and guided Anderlecht (almost certainly) towards the play-offs of the Conference League. Lior Refaelov (36) was the director of a corporate purple and white in Estonia. You can still go to war with him.
“Rafaaa,” Felice Mazzu called from the sidelines. A thumbs up went up in the air.
Lior Refaelov had presented striker brother Fábio Silva the 0-2 just before half-time with a great through pass. The Portuguese, who finished well himself, was also impressed. “It’s easy to play football with a player like ‘Rafa’ next to or behind you. Without a doubt man of the match.”
Silva was more than right. After ten minutes Rafa ‘himself’ had already put Anderlecht ahead.
Book in the A. Le Coq Arena, where the second most visited match ever in Estonian club football took place with 7,506 spectators. Despite the defeat, the Estonians – many with a bag of popcorn in hand – had a great time. Everyone’s hands went up after the game. Beautiful.
However, the tickets for the play-offs of the Conference League can (almost) be booked by Anderlecht. Signed, Rafa.
Mazzu had announced on Wednesday evening that he would “look for the right balance between young talent and experience” for the European matches. Yesterday the balance was clearly tilted towards the youth. With an average age of just 23.7 years, Mazzu threw his youngest team in his early career as an RSCA coach between the lines. See especially the midfield with Arnstad (18) – great match on the six – Ait El Hadj (20) and Verschaeren (21). No one crossed the 30 spring mark except one man.
It is no coincidence that Refaelov was back in the team just yesterday and even stayed for ninety minutes. With 78 European matches to his name, he is by far the most experienced pawn at Anderlecht – there are even more than the other ten basic players added together. Refaelov did in Tallinn what is expected of someone with those figures: take the team by the hand. The Israeli coached remarkably, both from his striker role and later in midfield, and was an often sought-after focal point. The goal and the assist as a crowning achievement. Excellent party.
Of course it was only against Paide Linnameeskond and Anderlecht were again not overwhelming yesterday. Van Crombrugge even had to be very attentive a handful of times whether the Estonians had scored. But the Purple & White mainly did what it had to do: cash in on a good starting position. Business, directed by Refaelov.
For those who still doubted it: Mazzu is certainly counting on the nestor in his selection. “Lior is such an intelligent and positive player,” the trainer praised. “He is an example for the cloakroom. Five minutes before the end, he came in for a solid tackle just in front of the bench. With that attitude, Lior will teach us a lot this season.”
Of course this will not be on a weekly basis. At 36, Refaelov knows his body like no other and knows exactly how to dose. Something that Mazzu is also aware of, but at key moments he will still attribute an important role to the Israeli. Like yesterday.
On the plane to Estonia, Refaelov had already said that the fire was still burning. And certainly for those European evenings. “I like to visit cities all over Europe,” he grinned. Tallinn – city on the water with a beautiful old center – can be ticked off here.
In two weeks, without major plot twists, the next stop will follow: Bern.
You bet he’ll be at the appointment. With Refaelov Anderlecht and Mazzu can go to war.
Anderlecht with one and a half legs in the last preliminary round of the Conference League after a smooth victory at the Estonian Paide
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