Maccabi Netanya 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
With the Premier League title-race already decided, the battle against
relegation and the fight for European qualification take center stage starting
Maccabi Tel Aviv officially clinched its first championship
since 2003 with a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Ramat Hasharon on
Maccabi Haifa is all but guaranteed to end the season in second
place, holding an eight-point gap over Hapoel Tel Aviv in third.
seemed to be cruising towards qualification for the Europa League from third
position before picking up just a single point over its past three
The Reds were humbled 4-1 at home by Ironi Kiryat Shmona last
week, bringing the northerners within two points of Hapoel.
can also secure a place in continental competition by winning the State Cup
final against Hapoel Ramat Gan on May 8, which will also mean that the team to
finish in fourth will play in the Europa League in 2013/14 should last season’s
champion end its campaign in third.
Regardless, Kiryat Shmona will be
aiming to climb up to third and will be focused on claiming its third straight
win when it hosts Bnei Yehuda on Saturday.
Hapoel Tel Aviv welcomes Ramat
Hasharon on Sunday, while Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first match since being crowned
champion will be against Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on
While there are still four more games to be played in the
championship playoffs, the teams fighting against relegation have got just two
more matches remaining to secure their survival.
Just five points
separate the bottom five teams, but last-placed Hapoel Ramat Gan could already
find itself relegated on Saturday.
A defeat at Hapoel Acre (33 points)
will see Ramat Gan (30) demoted to the National League, with a draw also
unlikely to be enough for Ramat Gan to maintain its top-flight
“We are in a very tough situation,” said Ramat Gan coach Eli
Cohen after his team dropped to a 1-0 defeat at Bnei Sakhnin on Tuesday in a
match postponed from Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch.
“We will have
to win our next two matches and pray for miracles.”
Maccabi Netanya (32)
resurrected its hopes of survival with its first win in 10 matches last week,
defeating Ashdod SC 2-1.
Netanya visits Beitar Jerusalem (38) on
Saturday, hoping to make the most of the hosts’ indifference towards the
Hapoel Beersheba (35) and Bnei Sakhnin (35) could all but
guarantee another year in the Premier League with victories on Saturday.
Beersheba welcomes Hapoel Haifa (38), while Sakhnin visits Ashdod (39).