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Maccabi Haifa will attempt to revive itself on Saturday evening when it visits Maccabi Herzliya in Matchday 7 of the Premier League.
Haifa's poor start to the season continued on Monday when the team could only manage a 3-3 draw with Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan at Kiryat Eliezer and nothing short of a win against Herzliya will appease its fans.
Haifa has only won two of its first five matches and the three-time defending champion finds itself in an unflattering ninth place in the standings.
"We have a lot of new players and we need to be given time," Haifa midfielder Alain Masudi said on Thursday. "This is only the start of the season. I believe we will take the championship this year."
Goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch is likely to miss his second straight league match because of his injured hand. Chilean defender Rafael Olara and Adoram Keisi are both definitely out, but even with a depleted squad, Haifa is expected to win against a side that has lost four of its five games to date.
"Our league position is unpleasant for everybody. We are responsible for it and we will need to get the team out of this position," Haifa forward Yaniv Katan said ahead of Saturday's match.
"Because of our situation, everybody is looking for excuses. However, we should be judged at the end of the season and not now. We play Herzliya on Saturday and we need to pick ourselves up and look forward."
Saturday's other intriguing matchup will see Betar Jerusalem coach Yossi Mizrahi take his side to Ashdod SC, which he left 10 days ago for his new position.
Mizrahi got off to a winning start with Jerusalem, defeating Herzliya 3-0 on Sunday, but he will know better than anyone else that Ashdod is an entirely different proposition. Mizrahi's replacement, Alon Hazan, also won his first match with his side, beating Maccabi Netanya 3-1 last Saturday, and he will be eager to dent Betar's championship aspirations.
"I don't believe in the term 'certain victory,'" said Betar captain Itzik Korenfein on Thursday. "Ashdod knows us and we know them. There are no secrets in soccer.
"Ashdod is a very good team. We are playing at their home and we can not take the match lightly."
Betar will be without striker Joao Pinto and defender Tomer Ben-Yosef is also doubtful for the match after suffering a concussion against Herzliya.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Maccabi Netanya. Both clubs suffered disappointing losses last week and will need a positive result to keep pace with the top of the table.
Bnei Yehuda will look to recover from its 4-0 hammering by Maccabi Tel Aviv last week against Hapoel Kfar Saba, which got an impressive 3-0 win against Maccabi Petah Tikva in Matchday 6.
Two of the bottom three meet each other on Saturday when Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva. Hapoel is rock bottom with a single point in its six matches so far and another loss against a fellow struggler will be a big blow for the team.
On Sunday, Hapoel hosts Maccabi in the first Tel Aviv derby of the season at Bloomfield Stadium.
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