OLIM FOOTBALLThe latest round of action in the Sports Direct Olim League sees the match of the day feature a clash between the League’s top-two sides…

ASHDOD (7th) vs RAINBALL TEL AVIV (9th)

Both sides go into this fixture having spent the best part of the season rooted to the bottom 3.

These sides met back in September on week two, with Ashdod running out 7-1 victors to show the league the potential they have. Instead of moving upwards, they went on a poor run of four defeats in five, in what has been a disappointing season for the talented French side.

Just before the Chanuka break they showed their potential by beating former champions England FC 4-2, to edge away from the bottom two. Despite a disappointing defeat in their last game at Jerusalem, David Ohayon’s troupes have the perfect opportunity to leap frog England FC who are not playing this weekend, and confine the former champions to the bottom 3 in their place.

Rainball are still looking of their first points of the season. They have made a couple of signings as they look to continue their improved performances of recent weeks, despite narrowly failing to turn those performances into points. If Ashdod fail to show the basement side respect, then a shock win could be on the cards for Ron Cohen’s men. However, Ashdod have the players and experience that should see them kick-start a better second half of the season for them.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Rainball Tel Aviv 1 v Ashdod 7

Leading Scorers:
Ashdod: Shmouel Darmon 7
Rainball Tel Aviv: Noam Siluk 3

Dangermen:
Jonas Marciano (Ashdod); Avi Ben Hamo (Rainball Tel Aviv)

Form:
Ashdod: WLLWL
Rainball Tel Aviv: LLLLL

Prediction:
Ashdod 5 v Rainball Tel Aviv 2

INTER TEL AVIV (4th) vs MODI’IN (8th)

Last week Inter missed a golden opportunity to throw the league race open as they lost a tightly fought game at home to Ra’anana 2-1, in a match they led. In what has been an impressive debut season in the Olim league, a win could earn them valuable breathing space between them and the teams behind them, as they look to a top 4 finish, at the first time of asking.

However, they will have to be on their best form, as Modi’in despite being lodged in the bottom two all season, seemed to have turned things around. After six consecutive defeats, they are unbeaten in two, including an impressive comeback from 3-0 down to draw at runaway leaders Ra’anana.

Joint manager Jamie Lazarus will be looking to continue their momentum with another win, looking to avenge their narrow defeat to Inter back in September.

This will be a tough game in tough conditions, and both keepers will have to be on top form, as it may take one slip up that will determine the outcome.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Modi’in 2 v Inter Tel Aviv 3

Leading Scorers:
Inter Tel Aviv: Emanuel Scholtz 5
Modi’in: Matan Kroizer 4

Dangermen:
Craig Smitheram (Inter Tel Aviv), Omri Encauou (Modi’in)

Form:
Inter Tel Aviv: DLWWL
Modi’in: LLLWD

Prediction:
Inter Tel Aviv 2 v Modi’in 1

RA’ANANA (1st) vs JAFFA (2nd)

Match of the day sees the top two lock horns.

The story of the season so far has been Ra’anana, Ra’anana, Ra’anana. Week in week out, they have put in impressive results. The management team of Avi Wiesenberg, Moshe Freedman and Guv Lebens have formed a very tight unit. Even in games where they have not been at their best, they have managed to grind out results, and are looking to go through the season unbeaten.

A win against second placed Jaffa, and they will all but mathematically be champions.

Having said that, Jaffa have put together an impressive run, going unbeaten in five to sneak up to second. A Jaffa victory, and things open up dramatically. If that happens, the last few months will see an interesting three-horse race between these two and third placed Jerusalem, who due to the snowy weather, will have two games in hand, as well as a game against Ra’anana, that could decide which of these three sides lifts the league title.

Ra’anana will hope that their home advantage will mean they will not be drawn into an end of season battle, looking to pick up the three points they need.

Ex-Scot Daniel Berkeley will be looking to rouse his players with a Braveheart style team talk, and you can be sure that both sides, no matter the result, will know that they have been in a game.

This game will not be for the faint hearted, but should league top scorer Aviad Ben Meir return after missing their last game, then Ra’anana will be able to really start thinking about their first ever piece of silverware in Olim football.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Jaffa 1 v Ra’anana 2

Leading Scorers:
Ra’anana: Aviad Ben Meir 19
Jaffa: Josh Bar 6

Dangermen:
Josh Lipman (Ra’anana); Nir HaCohen (Jaffa)

Form:
Ra’anana: DWWDW
Jaffa: WDWWW

Prediction:
Ra’anana 2 v Jaffa 1