Maccabi massive favorite in Tel Aviv derby

Hapoel enters showdown nine points back of safety and with a depleted squad in Koretzki’s first match.

January 16, 2017 00:13
2 minute read.
Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Avihai Yadin (center) is one of only five of his team’s players to surviv

Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Avihai Yadin (center) is one of only five of his team’s players to survive from the side that lost 5-0 to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last derby in September, with Maccabi’s Nosa Igiebor (right) scoring the opener in that match.. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

So much has changed at Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv since they last met four months ago. There is, however, at least one thing which remains as it was back in September.

Maccabi enters yet another derby as a firm favorite, perhaps even greater than it was last time, which is saying something considering that showdown ended in a record 5-0 rout in favor of the yellow-andblue.

Maccabi, still without a full-time replacement for the sacked Shota Arveladze, is looking to return back to second place and close within eight points of leader Hapoel Beersheba. Hapoel, which will be guided for the first time by new coach Menahem Koretzki, sits in last place in the standings, nine points from safety.

“I think that these games have tactical things that can be prepared for. But they are not games that you need to motivate the players as they will come into the game with 200 percent effort,” said Maccabi sports director Jordi Cruyff, who will once more step in for Arveladze. “Plus their fans will be behind them so we can’t go into the game with any arrogance. We need to come with the goal to win and to take the points.”

Cruyff is not expecting a repeat of the score-line from the last match between the teams.

“Every game is different and we don’t look like the same team we were when we won 5-0,” added Cruyff, who remains wary of Hapoel. “When someone is hurt or if you are in a difficult situation you give more than 100 percent. Derbies are full of surprises.”

Hapoel suffered a 2-1 defeat at Ironi Kiryat Shmona in coach Guy Luzon’s final match at the helm on Thursday night.

Luzon, who only joined the team in September to replace Eli Gutman, resigned last Wednesday due to the dramatic changes the squad is undergoing under the new ownership group led by the Nisanov brothers.

Luzon was forced to start with five players from the youth department on Thursday as the new owners are still struggling to assemble a squad, insisting that the club’s new budget doesn’t allow them to pick up the contracts of many of the players brought to the team by previous owner Amir Kabiri.

Hapoel, which was deducted nine points for entering a stay of legal proceedings last month due to debts estimated at over NIS 100 million, added striker Shahar Hirsch to its squad on Sunday. Koretzki will, nevertheless, have to use several youth players on Monday, although he insists he believes the team can register an upset against Maccabi.

“I believe you can win every match. We will fight from the first minute until the final whistle,” said Koretzki. “I believe we can avoid relegation.”

Elsewhere Monday, Bnei Sakhnin hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona.

On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem moved up to fifth place with a 1-0 win over Hapoel Haifa at Teddy Stadium. Dan Einbinder scored the only goal of the match in the seventh minute.

Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba handed Maor Buzaglo a lenient punishment on Sunday for his outburst on social media against coach Barak Bachar.

Buzaglo, who claimed Bachar had benched him in the match against Maccabi Haifa for unprofessional reasons, will have to invite the entire squad to a dinner and post an apology on social media.

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