Maccabi Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to finally overcome its inferiority complex against
Hapoel Tel Aviv when it hosts Israel’s most heated derby match at Bloomfield
Stadium on Sunday night.
It has been almost three years since Maccabi
last defeated Hapoel in a Premier League showdown, with only Dor Malul surviving
from the yellow- and-blue team which recorded the 3-1 win on March 9,
Maccabi entered the first derby of the season brimming with
confidence after winning four of five matches following its off-season
However, it was completely outplayed in the 1-0 defeat, taking
its record in derby matches since March 2008 to five losses and two
The yellow-and-blue once more enter the derby on a four-game league
winning streak, but despite trailing Hapoel by just four points in the
standings, coach Moti Ivanir was cautious not to build up expectations on
Thursday, especially with his team being knocked out of the State Cup at the
first hurdle on Tuesday, losing 3-1 at Hapoel Petah Tikva.
ignore our current state and just pretend that everything is okay,” Ivanir
“I hope we will play better than we did against Petah Tikva, but I
always knew it would take time until the side would play the way I
Meanwhile, Hapoel recorded its eighth win in nine contests in all
competitions on Wednesday, thrashing Ironi Kiryat Ata 7-0 to advance to the last
16 of the cup.
The reigning champion will be guided by assistant coach
Yossi Abuksis once more on Sunday, with Eli Gutman to sit out the next couple of
matches as he recuperates from last Saturday’s heart attack.
feel that this is a test for me because Gutman’s spirit is in the dressing room
even when he is at home,” Abuksis said. “We have been working together for over
three years and we have a blind understanding.
The derby will be a test
for the entire team and not just for me. Derby matches usually come down to
which team excels on the day and I believe that this will be the case once more
With Itai Shechter likely out for the rest of the season with
a shoulder injury, Ben Sahar has shined in recent weeks, scoring seven goals in
Hapoel’s last six league matches after finding the back of the net just once in
the side’s first 14 games.
“I’m feeling good and I’ve found my form,”
“The cup victory was important for our morale ahead of the
derby. I hope we will play well as a team against Maccabi and prove that we are
the better side. They will be entering the match after a defeat and will be
desperate to win.”
Hapoel will likely enter Sunday’s match in second
position, with Maccabi Haifa needing just one point from its game against Bnei
Sakhnin at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Saturday to leapfrog the Reds into first
Haifa has won just one of its last three league encounters, but it
will be confident of getting the better of Sakhnin after brushing aside Hapoel
Kfar Saba in the cup on Wednesday.
Betar Jerusalem will be hoping to
continue its revival under new coach Roni Levy when it hosts Bnei Yehuda on
After beating Hapoel Beersheba and drawing with Maccabi Haifa,
Levy’s men defeated Hapoel Ramat Gan on Wednesday to progress in the
Bnei Yehuda has won two of its past three league game, but dropped
to a 4-1 cup loss at Maccabi Netanya on Tuesday.
Also Saturday, Maccabi
Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva, Ironi Kiryat Shmona welcomes Hapoel Haifa,
Hapoel Ashkelon visits Hapoel Acre, Hapoel Ramat Gan goes to Netanya and Hapoel
Beersheba faces Ashdod SC.On TV: Saturday: Maccabi Haifa vs Bnei Sakhnin (live on Sport 2 at
4:45 p.m.); Hapoel Beersheba vs Ashdod SC (live on Sport 1 at 4:50 p.m.); Betar
Jerusalem vs Bnei Yehuda (live on Sport 2 at 7 p.m.)a