Local Soccer: Pressure on Maccabi Haifa after Champions League defeat

Local Soccer Pressure o

Maccabi Haifa will need to put Wednesday's disappointing 1-0 defeat at Bordeaux quickly behind it if it is to maintain its 100 percent record in the Premier League on Saturday. Haifa hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium less than 72 hours after an impressive showing in Bordeaux ended in heartbreak. Elisha Levy's men had chances to win the Champions League match, but Michael Ciani's 83rd minute strike left the Greens wondering what might have been for a second straight continental encounter following the 3-0 home loss to Bayern Munich two weeks ago. Haifa has cruised in the league so far, beating the newly-promoted Hapoel Acre, Hapoel Ra'anana and Hapoel Ramat Gan to start the season, before claiming an important 2-1 victory at Hapoel Tel Aviv last week. Playing in the group stage has yet to take its toll on the defending champion, but Petah Tikva is hoping to be the first team to take advantage of Haifa's fatigue, especially after finally picking up its first win of the season last week with a 3-0 victory at Hapoel Beersheba. Bnei Yehuda, which is second in the standings, two points behind Haifa, visits Hapoel Petah Tikva on Saturday. Petah Tikva won its first match of the season, but has lost its three games since by a combined goal difference of 0-7. Maccabi Tel Aviv's positive start to the season has turned sour in recent weeks following its 0-0 draw with Bnei Yehuda and 3-1 loss to Hapoel Haifa. Tel Aviv won its first two matches of the campaign, but is under pressure once more entering Saturday's match against Acre at Bloomfield Stadium. "We began the season well and we believe in ourselves despite the loss at Haifa," Maccabi coach Avi Nimni said on Thursday. Also Saturday, Hapoel Haifa visits Bnei Sakhnin, Ahi Nazareth hosts Ra'anana and Ramat Gan travels to Ashdod SC. On Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv goes to Maccabi Netanya, with Beersheba hosting Betar Jerusalem on Monday.