Local Soccer: The battle for a spot in Europe

Maccabi Herzliya hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Bnei Yehuda in Matchday 29.

Betar Jerusalem 298.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem 298.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
With the Premier League title as good as won by Betar Jerusalem, the battle for European qualification and the fight against relegation will take center stage on Saturday. Maccabi Herzliya hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Bnei Yehuda in Matchday 29, with the results from both games affecting the top and bottom of the league standings. Herzliya, which is five points clear of Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan and the relegation zone, has been in excellent form recently, winning three straight matches before drawing 2-2 with champion-elect Betar at Teddy Stadium last week. Tel Aviv, on the other hand, has disappointed in recent weeks, not winning its last four league matches. Hapoel is only four points ahead of Maccabi Netanya in the race to clinch third place and a UEFA Cup berth, with Maccabi Haifa also lurking just behind. Bnei Yehuda, which is only one point in front of Herzliya, desperately needs to record its first victory in more than two months on Saturday at Bloomfield Stadium. The club hasn't won in seven league matches, but will be facing a team which is looking to return to winning ways and finish the season on a high. Tel Aviv has only won once in its last three matches and could find itself struggling to qualify for European play should it continue to falter. Netanya will need to rediscover its scoring touch on Saturday when it travels to Kfar Saba to play local side Hapoel. Netanya's last two league matches have ended in goalless draws, but the team will be confident of recording a win against a Kfar Saba squad that no longer has anything to play for. Haifa, which has won three of its last four matches, is a massive favorite against Hapoel Petah Tikva, which is facing certain relegation following its three-point deduction by the Israel Football Association on Wednesday. Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Ashdod SC in a match between two clubs that are comfortably placed in the middle of the standings. Hakoah hosts Betar in the final game of Matchday 29 Sunday night.