Dramatic final slate before league is split
Beitar, Ramat Hasharon, Ashdod all hoping to claim final top-6 spot; Mac TA secure in first.
Maccabi Haifa's Yaniv Katan Photo: Asaf Kliger
The sixth and final ticket to the Premier League championship playoffs will be
decided in the last weekend of the regular season, with three teams fighting for
a berth that will determine how their campaigns will be remembered.
league will be split into two sections after each team completes their full
schedule this weekend, with the top six sides to play each other twice more to
decide the champion, while the bottom eight teams will play each other once more
to determine the relegation battle.
By the end of this weekend, each PL
club will have played every local opponent twice.
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon
currently sits in sixth place, one point ahead of Beitar Jerusalem and two in
front of Ashdod SC. A victory at the struggling Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday
will clinch Ramat Hasharon’s place in the championship playoffs, but Benny
Tabak’s team has picked up just a single point over its past four matches,
failing to score a goal.
Beersheba lost any hope of finishing the regular
season in the top six following last week’s 1-0 defeat to Bnei Yehuda, but it is
also desperate for the points, holding just a five-point gap from the relegation
Should Ramat Hasharon fail to win on Saturday, Beitar Jerusalem
will be able to leapfrog into sixth place on Sunday. However, Beitar visits
rampant league leader Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium, with the
yellowand- blue boasting a 10-point gap at the top and a six-match winning
Nevertheless, Beitar will not be lacking in self-belief having
beaten Maccabi 2-0 at Bloomfield in the last 16 of the State Cup just last
Beitar could also overtake Ramat Hasharon with a draw against
Maccabi, should Tabak’s side lose in Beersheba.
However, that would open
the door for Ashdod, which hosts Bnei Yehuda on Monday night. Should both Ramat
Hasharon and Beitar fail to win, Ashdod, which has won just one of its past 14
matches, will be able to book a playoff berth by beating Bnei
With Maccabi Tel Aviv not playing until Sunday, Maccabi Haifa
will be hoping to put the yellow-and-blue under a little pressure by beating
Maccabi Netanya on Saturday to close within seven points of the
Haifa dropped two important points in the title race after only
managing a 1-1 draw in the derby against Hapoel on Monday, but coach Arik Benado
is adamant his team will continue to fight until the final whistle of the
“A 10-point gap is significant, but we will not give up,” Benado
said on Thursday. “We will fight hard to remain as close as possible to
The match against Netanya is dangerous as they tend to excel
against the stronger teams.
“We want to get back into the title race and
we will not allow a single result to dampen our spirits.”
Netanya is just
two points off the relegation zone despite losing just once in its past nine
games. Tal Banin’s men have recorded five draws over that stretch, including in
their past three matches.
Hapoel Haifa hosts Hapoel Ramat Gan in a
six-point relegation battle on Saturday, with the former languishing in the
relegation zone and Ramat Gan ahead of it only on goal
Despite remaining in last place, Hapoel Acre resurrected its
hopes of survival by winning two of its past three matches to close within two
points of safety.
Acre hosts third-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv on
A slip-up by Tel Aviv could see it drop to fourth place should
Ironi Kiryat Shmona defeat Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday.