While Avram Grant celebrated steering Chelsea into the semi-finals of the Champions League, his hopes of European and Premier League glory were dealt a blow after fellow Israeli Tal Ben Haim sidelined keeper Petr Cech in a training ground accident.
Since taking over from Jose Mourinho last September, Grant has done well to keep the West London team fighting for honours as he has rarely been able to name his strongest line-up due to a series of injuries.
Ben Haim, who has fallen out of favour in recent weeks, collided with the Czech Republic stopper who required 50 stitches in an injury that needed cosmetic surgery after the player’s studs raked down his face.
“It was just back luck,” said Cech. “Tal tried to clear the ball and I dived for it at the same time. We hit each other and he tore my face.”
However, Grant could still joke: “This year I am more a doctor than a manager. I need to speak about injuries every week.”
Having trailed 2-1 from the first leg, Grant masterminded a 2-0 win over Fenerbahce on Tuesday night.
Looking ahead to the Liverpool clash, he said: “Of course I believe we can win the competition. I am optimistic by nature.”
Israel has risen two places in the latest FIFA rankings to a record high of 20 following last month’s 1-0 friendly victory over Chile.