ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 150

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'We don't like to lose'

FC Barcelona legends arrive to play Maccabi Tel Aviv, Haifa veterans

Former Barca soccer stars will square off against ex-Maccabi players Tuesday before playing in Haifa Thursday; Rivaldo: ‘We retired years ago, but we don’t like to lose any game’

Former Barcelona stars Rivaldo and Javier Saviola pose for photo with Maccabi Tel Aviv's Avi Nimni and Tal Ben-Haim, ahead of a friendly match in Tel Aviv, September 4, 2023. (Charlie Summers)
Former Barcelona stars Rivaldo and Javier Saviola pose for photo with Maccabi Tel Aviv's Avi Nimni and Tal Ben-Haim, ahead of a friendly match in Tel Aviv, September 4, 2023. (Charlie Summers)

A lineup of Barca Legends, former FC Barcelona greats, arrived in Israel on Monday, ahead of two matches this week against veteran Israeli players from Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa.

Tuesday evening, at Bloomfield Stadium, the now middle-aged stars will go up against a team of former players for Maccabi Tel Aviv, including ex-captains Avi Nimni and Tal Ben Haim.

The Barca Legends include Brazilian ace Rivaldo Ferreira, one of the top goal-scorers in Barcelona history, and former forward for the team Javier Saviola.

“My expectations are high, but I have to lower them because what everyone wants and expects from us is not what will happen,” Nimni said during the team’s press conference at Tel Aviv’s Carlton Hotel, where the athletes are staying ahead of the first game.

“We’ve trained two times and although my body is betraying me, not letting me do the things I was once able to, it’s still very exciting,” he added.

When asked whether he’s the “Israeli Rivaldo,” Nimni quipped that such a statement is “flattering for me, but sad for him.”

“I’m very excited to return to Israel,” said Rivaldo, who visited two years ago to compete for Barcelona Legends against its longtime rival Real Madrid in front of an Israeli audience.

“All of us retired years ago, but we don’t like to lose any game, just like Maccabi Tel Aviv doesn’t like to lose. We’ll go on the field to win,” said Rivaldo.

After playing Tel Aviv, the handful of stars will travel up the coast to face off against Maccabi Haifa on Thursday and close out their stay in Israel.

Along with Rivaldo and Saviola, the legends playing in the exhibition games this week include Ronaldinho, Bojan Krkic, Jesús Angoy, Xavi Guzmán, Frederic Dehu, Sergi Barjuan, Jon Andoni Goikoetxea, Juliano Belletti, Roberto Trashorras, Jofre Mateu and Ludovic Giuly.

Barcelona legend Thierry Henry, who helped win the club its historic treble in 2010, was initially expected to participate in the two games, but has since dropped out to focus on coaching the French U21 team.

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