Sinai Says: A changing of the tide in TA soccer power
By ALLON SINAI
After years in the shadow of its archrival, Maccabi regained the supreme position that allows it to look down at the Reds and show no mercy.
The significance of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 4-0 humbling of Hapoel Tel Aviv in the
derby on Monday night seems quite straightforward.
The victory saw
Maccabi move eight points clear of second-placed Maccabi Haifa at the summit of
the Premier League and crushed Hapoel’s title hopes, with the Reds dropping a
massive 11 points behind the yellow-and-blue with their fourth straight
However, watching the Maccabi fans celebrate with their players
long after the final whistle sounded at Bloomfield Stadium, I couldn’t help but
wonder if the implications of Monday’s result weren’t far more
Maccabi hadn’t beaten Hapoel in the derby by a 4-0 score-line
in over 20 years, with Eli Driks netting an unforgettable hat-trick when it last
happened on October 10, 1992.
Maccabi had also thrashed Hapoel 4-0 the
previous year in a derby that seemed to mark a hegemonic shift between the
There was a similar feeling at Bloomfield on Monday.
years in the shadow of its archrival, Maccabi regained the supreme position that
allows it to look down at the Reds and show no mercy.
Over the past 16
years, Maccabi has picked up just a single league championship and in recent
seasons it was forced to watch the Reds celebrate time and again.
has won the past three installments of the State Cup and completed a league and
cup double in the 2009/10 season.
Maccabi entered the derby in November
1991 having gone 12 years without a championship and the 4-0 triumph remains the
most memorable result of that campaign, which ended with the yellow-and-blue
finally lifting the league title yet again.
Maccabi went on to win two
consecutive championships in the mid- 90’s (1995-96), but it lost its way soon
When Canadian-Jewish billionaire Mitch Goldhar purchased the club
three-and-a-half years ago, it seemed that a return to the glory days was just
around the corner.
However, Maccabi was no more than a bystander in
recent title races, while Hapoel hasn’t finished any lower than second place
All that seems set to change this season, with Monday’s
thrashing of Hapoel the best indication yet that another golden age is about to
begin at Maccabi.
Coach Oscar Garcia’s team thoroughly outplayed Hapoel
in every facet of the game and is steamrolling its opponents on the way to the
championship, winning its last six home matches by a combined goal difference of
Maccabi Haifa looks to be Oscar’s only rival for the title
following its dramatic improvement, but it is hard to see the yellow-and-blue
dropping an eight-point gap should it build on Monday’s display.
derby win is a momentous occasion for the triumphant fans.
Monday’s result was different.
It not only put Maccabi in the driving
seat to finally win a record 19th Israeli championship, but it also provided
unequivocal proof that the evolution of the club under Goldhar is finally paying
It may have taken longer than expected, but Maccabi is