Maccabi Tel Aviv struggles in fifth place

Heads into Matchday 11 of the Israel Premier League, with disappointing results and unrest among the fans.

maccabi TA 88 (photo credit: )
maccabi TA 88
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv heads into Matchday 11 of the Israel Premier League in deep turmoil, with disappointing results piling up and growing unrest amongst the club fans. The big signings made over the summer are not paying off and rebuilding plans are being made just two months into the season. The yellow-and-blue are fifth in the standings and anything less than a win against Maccabi Petah Tikva this weekend will probably end it's chances to qualify for European competition next year. Reigning champion Maccabi Haifa will look to keep its perfect record intact when it goes for its 11th straight victory in a difficult away fixture against Maccabi Netanya at "The Box". Motti Ivanir's Upper Nazareth hosts Bnei Sakhnin Friday afternoon in a critical bottom-of-the-table clash. Brazilian striker Gabriel Lima, who rejoined Sakhnin last week, has impressed in training and is expected to open in Lufa Kadosh's starting eleven. Captain Abbas Suan has recovered from an injury suffered in last week's match and will also start for the reds. Nir Klinger's Maccabi Tel Aviv takes on Maccabi Petah Tikva at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan, with both teams not in the best of form lately. Tel Aviv has fallen behind in the race for second place and Petah Tikva is now in ninth place, dangerously close to the relegation zone. Eyal Berkovic is expected to return to Maccabi Tel Aviv's starting lineup, but Giovanni Rosso will probably be relegated to the bench to make way for youngster Liran Cohen. Brazilian striker Jose Duarte is lacking match fitness and will be a game-time decision. Petah Tikva's Salim Tuama has recovered from a nagging injury and has been declared fit after missing about two months' action. A third straight championship looks inevitable for league frontrunner Maccabi Haifa, which faces Reuven Atar's Maccabi Netanya. The Netanya management has been under fire lately, after raising the ticket price to NIS 95 for the game. The average fee for entering a Premier League match is around NIS 70. Haifa coach Roni Levy released backup Dekel Keinan from his squad earlier this week. Hapoel Petah Tikva has been mentioned as the leading candidate to secure the young defender's services. Hapoel Petah Tikva will be looking to keep its winning streak alive against Dror Kashtan's Hapoel Tel Aviv. Nir Levin's side has now won two straight, including last week's win against Betar Jerusalem at a hostile Teddy Stadium. There has been uncertainty surrounding Hapoel Tel Aviv lately, with Russian billionaire and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reportedly interested in buying out the current management. Abramovich is expected to land in Israel over the weekend. Tel Aviv striker Elyaniv Barda is suffering from a hip injury and is doubtful for the fixture. Coach Kashtan will insert Baruch Dego back into the starting lineup, after Dego started on the bench for the team's last three matches. Ashdod SC faces Hapoel Kfar Saba in another bottom-of-the-table clash. Kfar Saba can escape the relegation zone with a win and complicate Ashdod. Kfar Saba coach Elisha Levy is interested in Maccabi Haifa's Shai Biruk to strengthen his attack, which is the weakest in the league with only eight goals scored so far. Betar Jerusalem takes on Bnei Yehuda at Herzliya Stadium on Sunday evening. The yellow-and-black will be missing midfielder Idan Malichi, who is down with flu. Tomer Haliva and David Amsalem are also doubtful due to knocks suffered in training.