FC Barcelona stars land in Israel to play against Maccabi Tel Aviv, Haifa veterans

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 soccer greats, arrived in Israel today, ahead of two matches this week against veteran Israeli players from Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa.

Tomorrow evening, at Bloomfield Stadium, the stars will go up against Maccabi Tel Aviv, whose team will feature former captains Avi Nimni and Tal Ben-Haim.

The Barca Legends team includes Brazilian ace Rivaldo Ferreira, one of the top goal-scorers in the team’s 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 at the team’s press conference in Tel Aviv’s Carlton Hotel, where the athletes are staying ahead of their first match.

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

“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 will go on the field to win,” said Rivaldo.

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

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 the visit to focus on coaching the French U21 team.

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