Pride on the line in Saturday's Tel Aviv derby

Hapoel has got something to prove after being humiliated 4-0 in the most recent derby in February.

April 5, 2013 07:17
1 minute read.
Hapoel Tel Aviv's Iyad Khutaba

Hapoel Tel Aviv's Iyad Khutaba 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Barring an unprecedented collapse, Maccabi Tel Aviv will soon clinch a first Premier League title since 2003.

Hapoel Tel Aviv has seemingly secured third position in the standings, with second-placed Maccabi Haifa likely out of reach.

Nevertheless, Saturday night’s derby between Tel Aviv’s two top teams at Bloomfield Stadium is guaranteed to be as fervent as ever, with local pride taking precedence over all else.

Hapoel, in particular, has got something to prove after being humiliated 4-0 in the most recent derby in February.

Maccabi steamrolled the helpless Reds with a champion’s performance, effectively ending Hapoel’s title hopes while also forcing the sacking of coach Yossi Abuksis a week later.

Hapoel has continued to struggle for form under interim coach Freddy David, but has still managed to grind out results.

The Reds are unbeaten in six league matches under David, winning their past three to move seven points clear of Ironi Kiryat Shmona in the battle for third place and European qualification.

Maccabi defeated Kiryat Shmona 3-1 on the road on Wednesday to reestablish a 10-point lead at the top of the standings and needs just four wins from its final seven encounters to secure the championship even should Haifa triumph in all seven of its remaining contests.

After drawing 0-0 with Maccabi Tel Aviv last Saturday, Haifa returned to winning ways in the most convincing of fashions on Tuesday, crushing Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 6-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium for its 16th victory in its past 19 matches.

The Greens will hope to continue their unstoppable form when they host Kiryat Shmona on Saturday.

Also in the championship playoffs, Ramat Hasharon welcomes Bnei Yehuda.

While it seems that everything has been decided at the top end of the table, the battle against relegation looks set to go down to the wire.

Just seven points separate the seven bottom sides, with two of them to be demoted to the National League at the end of the season.

Hapoel Haifa (32 points) has climbed out of the relegation zone by going undefeated in its past seven matches. However, it will be leapfrogged by Hapoel Ramat Gan (29), which is currently positioned four places below it, should it lose the showdown between the two teams at Kiryat Eliezer on Saturday.

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