Ligat Ha’al Playoffs – Round Four Preview
As we head into the fourth week of the playoffs for the championship here are the fixtures.
Hapoel Tel-Aviv – Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Maccabi Haifa – Beitar Jerusalem
M.S. Ashdod – Bnei Yehuda
1) Hapoel Tel-Aviv which currently leads Maccabi Haifa on goal differential will look to put pressure on the reigning champions against a determined Maccabi Tel-Aviv side that looks to deny their city rivals a championship. Maccabi lost their last game against Maccabi Haifa in rather unconvincing fashion but, expect the intensity of this game to be much higher. Hapoel are expected to play in 4-1-3-2 formation, while Maccabi are expected to open in a defensive 5-2-3. Hapoel will need Gil Vermouth and his sixteen assists to unlock Maccabi’s defensive formation. The key player for Maccabi has to be Maor Buzaglo, Buzaglo has only two goals and five assists after being gone much of the season, but in Maccabi’s defensive lineup he will need to be the catalyst for them going forward. Prediction 2-0 Hapoel.
2) Maccabi Haifa needs to beat Beitar Jerusalem and hope for a Hapoel tie or loss in order to regain its position as league leader. Haifa had an imperious display against Maccabi Tel-Aviv last weekend while Beitar was miserable in its two nil loss to Bnei Yehuda. Beitar’s defenders have been poor all season and if Beitar wants to win they’ll need to put in a good defensive performance. The central pairing of Tomer Ben-Yosef and Arik Benado will be important in that objective. Haifa has struggled at times during the season to score goals, but if Lior Rafaelov plays like he has been of late then Haifa shouldn’t worry. Prediction 3-1 Haifa.
3) Ashdod is battling for fourth place while Bnei Yehuda is looking to sneak up on Maccabi Tel-Aviv and take third place. Ashdod is looking to recover from a 4-0 beatdown suffered at the hands of Hapoel Tel-Aviv last week while Bnei Yehuda is looking to continue their momentum from a last week after a surprise 2-0 victory of Beitar. Bnei Yehuda has finished fourth last year and has continued its form thanks to its solid offensive and defensive performances. Ashdod has also been consistent as well, which makes this game hard to call. Idan Shriki and Dimitar Makriev need to score goals for Ashdod to keep themselves in the game while Bnei Yehuda will rely on their talisman Assi Baldut for some leadership. Prediction 2-1 Ashdod.