(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
The top of the Premier League standings could be set for another reshuffle this weekend with only five points separating the top six teams ahead of Matchday 15.
Second-place Ashdod SC hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv and can once more grab the top spot from Betar Jerusalem for at least 24 hours.
Ashdod, which has won five of its last six matches, comes in with an air of confidence never seen before in the coastal town and will face a Maccabi club that is unbeaten in nine matches.
"Ashdod is the hit of the league, a young vibrant team that is always looking to score," Tel Aviv coach Eli Cohen said. "We're meeting them on top form and we need to start winning again.
"Our last couple matches weren't that good and we haven't scored goals. Nevertheless, I'll settle for a single goal and three points on Saturday."
Tel Aviv has drawn its last three matches, only scoring once in those ties, and for the first time in recent memory comes into a game against Ashdod as an underdog.
Maccabi Haifa travels to Bnei Yehuda, which hasn't taken all three points in nine matches. Haifa is happy to find itself only four points from the summit after a poor start to the season and a win on Saturday is a must if the club is serious about its title aspirations.
Bnei Yehuda ended its last two matches against fellow strugglers Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan and Maccabi Herzliya in goalless draws and would be pleased with a similar result against Haifa.
Hapoel Tel Aviv plays Herzliya at Bloomfield Stadium and will look to continue its prolific scoring. Hapoel is the highest scoring side in the league with 25 goals, including four last week against Ramat Gan.
Herzliya has lost only one of its last four matches and is hoping to continue its recent improvement.
Coach Reuven Atar will guide Maccabi Netanya against Hapoel Kfar Saba, his first match since rejoining the club on Wednesday. Netanya and Kfar Saba are both winless in their last four games and are tied on 18 points midway down the table. The teams are five points from the top clubs and seven points from the bottom ones and both are desperate for three points that would put them among the leading sides and further away from the relegation battle.
Tensions are guaranteed to run high in Petah Tikva on Saturday when Maccabi hosts Hapoel in the local derby.
Maccabi has gone through a rough patch recently, failing to win in its last three match. A good start to the season put it at the top of the league early on, but after its recent form, the team will need to return to winning ways in the derby to make sure it doesn't lose touch with the league leaders.
Hapoel, which lost the first derby of the season 1-0, would gladly take on Maccabi's troubles, as its winless streak currently stands at seven. The team has only won one match this season and perhaps the unexpected nature of derby matches will help it get a rare victory on Saturday.
Betar Jerusalem visits Hakoah in Ramat Gan on Sunday in the final game of Matchday 15.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>