Hapoel Beersheba midfielder John Ogu (left) celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal in last night’s 2-0 victory over Maccabi Netanya at Turner Stadium..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba is showing no signs of letting up, but Maccabi Tel Aviv will at least try and place some pressure on the Premier League leader when it visits Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday.
Maccabi can close within two points of Beersheba for at least 24 hours, with the leader only visiting Hapoel Kfar Saba on Sunday.
Beersheba has won 17 of its past 19 matches, picking up 53 of a possible 57 points. It enters Sunday’s game on the back of a club record seven-match winning streak, with its last defeat coming five months ago.
Since 1982/83, the first season in which three points were awarded for a win in Israel, only one team has registered a better winning percentage than Beersheba through 24 matches.
Maccabi Haifa had 64 points and an 88.9 success rate in 2009/10, with Beersheba currently on 60 points, an 83.3 success rate, tied for second best at this stage of the season over the past 33 years.
All Maccabi can do at the moment is win its matches and hope Beersheba eventually slips up, with the teams still to meet twice more this season in the championship playoffs.
The yellow-and-blue is aiming to become just the second team in local soccer history to win four straight championships, the first since Hapoel Petah Tikva took five consecutive league titles between 1959 and 1963.
Maccabi has won its past two league games after two successive draws, but coach Peter Bosz hasn’t been pleased with his side’s performance and may well opt for a more attacking formation on Saturday.
“This is not the Maccabi I want to see,” said Bosz after last week’s 2-1 win over Hapoel Haifa. “The first half was not good and the tempo was too low.
We weren’t creative enough.”
Elsewhere, the battle for a top-six spot continues on Saturday, with seven teams still in contention for the three remaining berths to the championship playoffs, with two games left.
Hapoel Ra’anana, in fourth, can secure its place with a win at Hapoel Haifa on Saturday, with the latter in desperate need of a boost in its battle against relegation.
Only four points separate Bnei Sakhnin in fifth and Ironi Kiryat Shmona in 10th, with the two meeting on Saturday. Sixth-place Maccabi Haifa visits rock-bottom Maccabi Netanya, while Maccabi Petah Tikva goes to Beitar Jerusalem, securely in third.
On Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Acre.