No good news on the eastern front this week. Really. Read on.

Just Spain and Italy, NBD

The UEFA qualifying groups for the 2018 Kleptocratic Expansionist World Cup in Russia were announced, and it more or less couldn’t have gone any worse for Israel. Well, it looks good if you read UP the group table: Liechtenstein, Macedonia, and Albania aren’t exactly world-slayers, but keep going and you bump into two names that are a little more impressive- Italy and Spain. Israel needs to win (ha) or be runner-up (bwahaha) in that group, so let me ask you just one little question: “Do you believe in miracles?” Qualifying kicks off on October 6, 2016.

Flat Feet

Despite hosting the first leg of the home-and-home fixture in the third round of Champions League qualifying, Maccabi Tel Aviv came out flat and uninspired, conceding goals in the 17th and 21st minutes to Victoria Plzen. Barak Itzhaki came on as a substitute in the 64th minute and scored in the 79th minute, but it was too little, too late, and Maccabi not only lost 2:1 but conceded two precious away goals. Maccabi will try to overcome that deficit next week in Plzen, and will be looking to repeat their performance from last week, when they overcame a 2:1 first leg deficit with a 5:1 thrashing of Hibernians. The return leg is next Wednesday in the Czech Republic.

Battle Stations

It’s not really Israeli sports, but given Tom Brady’s earlier-this-millennium trip to Israel with Robert Kraft and Kraft’s support of not only Israeli American football and Israel in general, today’s decision that TB12’s suspension will be upheld has sent Patriot Nation and this Patriot fan into going-to-the-mattresses mode. Really? REALLY? There’s so much wrong with this decision that it actually gives me a headache, and the time has absolutely come for a post to be written about how the NFL’s treatment and singling out of the Patriots bears a nightmarish resemblance to the UN and other international bodies’ singling out and treatment of Israel. I. Can’t. Even.

Coupled with the USMNT’s Gold Cup collapse, the Red Sox’s further descent into oblivion, and this awful picture of the Celtics’ summer activity, there’s nothing else to do but close your eyes and hope that next week is a whole lot better.