Maccabi Haifa players 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
It was just over one month ago that Maccabi Tel Aviv was threatening to run away
with the Premier League title.
The yellow-and-blue took a six-point
cushion into the showdown against Hapoel Tel Aviv after winning seven of eight
However, it ended the derby with a 1-0 defeat and nine-men
before falling to Bnei Yehuda by the same score-line. Maccabi recovered with a
4-3 comeback win at Hapoel Ramat Hasharon and a 4-0 thrashing of Bnei Sakhnin.
But those proved to be the team’s only wins in the past seven weeks, with Oscar
Garcia’s side only managing a 1-1 draw with Betar Jerusalem before losing 1-0 at
Maccabi Haifa on Monday.
After collecting just seven points from a
possible 18 over its last six matches, Tel Aviv dropped to second place,
although only a single point behind the equally struggling Hapoel Tel
However, the next two matches present Maccabi with an ideal
opportunity to kickstart its title challenge, with the yellow-and-blue hosting
the floundering Maccabi Netanya at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday before
welcoming rock-bottom Hapoel Haifa.
Netanya has collected just two points
from its past six contests, drawing 0-0 with Hapoel Haifa last
Despite leading the standings, Hapoel Tel Aviv has looked
embarrassingly vulnerable over the past two weeks, only managing to draw at home
against two of the league’s weaker teams.
Last week’s 2-2 stalemate with
Hapoel Ramat Gan followed a goalless deadlock against Hapoel Acre, costing the
Reds valuable points.
Yossi Abuksis’s team could not ask for a more
comfortable opponent against which to return to winning ways on Saturday, with
Tel Aviv visiting Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
“There is no
such thing as a certain win in this league,” Abuksis said. “Haifa is fighting
for its life the same way we are fighting for the championship. There are
matches you think will be easy and they end up being difficult.
go wild after winning four consecutive matches so we are not going to bury our
heads in the ground after two draws.”
Also Saturday, third-placed Ashdod
SC hosts Sakhnin, Bnei Yehuda visits Ramat Gan and Acre plays Ramat
Betar Jerusalem visits Hapoel Beersheba on Sunday, while the
red-hot Maccabi Haifa, which has won four straight games, goes to Ironi Kiryat
Shmona on Monday.