IMDB user bika's critique is spot-on.
Cohen is shirt maker and a soccer fan, with tickets to the World Cup being played in Spain. His character therefore is not a contrived soldier/soccer fan, but an every day guy who was called up as a reservist to fight for a month, who must miss the tournament. That he is captured by a PLO band led by Ziad (played magnificently by Mohammed Bakri) makes the situation worse.In a particularly memorable sequence, the PLO gang breaks into an empty estate to watch a semifinal match. When Italy scores, Cohen and Ziad leap up to high-five--then realize what they're about to do, and sink back into their seats.
Soccer serves as an early bridge between the two men, but it is never overt or presented in a corny fashion. It is natural, and leads to the discovery of other commonalities between Cohen on the one hand, and Ziad and his band on the other. Their appreciation of one another and mutual love for the Italian national soccer team is juxtaposed against episodes of sudden violence that shock and sadden the viewer.
Would make an excellent double feature with No Man's Land, a different take on war that is similarly--and tragically--timeless.