Maccabi TA looks to end slump versus Netanya

Maccabi TA ended the derby with Hapoel TA with a 1-0 defeat before falling to Bnei Yehuda by the same score-line.

Maccabi Haifa players 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
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 matches.
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 Aviv.
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 week.
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.
We didn’t 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 Hasharon.
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.