OLIM FOOTBALLMatch of the day in this weekend’s Olim League fixture list features a colossal top-of-the-table clash which could see Ra’anana put all but two hands on their first league title.

INTER TEL AVIV (4th) vs ASHDOD (6th)
With Jaffa not playing this week, league new boys Inter have the perfect chance to pull clear of their local neighbours in an impressive debut season and to finish the weekend in the top 3, as they hope for a podium finish, as the league reaches the business end of the season. Jerome Katz and Omri Elani’s troupes have been the model of consistency all season, with their only defeats coming to the league’s top two sides this season.

Ashdod’s predominantly French side have been hit with a number of injuries this season, most notably prolific striker Shlomi Toubol, who has been out all season. Whilst Shmouel Darmon has stepped up to the plate, les bleus have had a stop start season, winning one, losing one or two, winning one, losing one. Having won their last match by the odd goal against Modi’in last time out, they will be hoping to pick up points for a 2nd consecutive game, something they have so far failed to do all season.

Ashdod have pretty much secured mid table safety, and will already be looking ahead to next season, in the hope that lady luck allows their big guns to come back fully fit, and assist them launch a title challenge that they are more than capable of.

Inter will go into this fixture looking to record their 3rd consecutive victory and clean sheet in a row, against a side they have already whitewashed in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. A win will lift them up to 3rd, with every chance of staying in the top 3 between now and the end of the season.

Inter should however treat Ashdod with respect as David Ohayon’s men have already tested some of the better sides this season, and depending on who is available, could sneak a point.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Ashdod 0 v Inter Tel Aviv 3

Leading Scorers:
Inter Tel Aviv: Emanuel Scholtz 6
Ashdod: Shmouel Darmon 8

Dangermen:
Mike Langer (Inter Tel Aviv); Igal Darmon (Ashdod)

Form:
Inter Tel Aviv: WWLWW
Ashdod: WLWLW

Prediction:
Inter 3 v Ashdod 1

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MODI’IN (8th) vs ENGLAND FC (5th)
Modi’in go into this game missing veteran defender Martin Lange following his dismissal against Ashdod, but will be hoping to avenge their narrow 1-0 defeat England inflicted on them back in November.

England will be looking to bounce back from their heartbreaking defeat at old foes Jerusalem last week, when they threw away a lead, conceding twice in injury time, to somehow leave the capital empty handed.

They will need to learn from that hard experience and play the full 90 + minutes, as Modi’in know all about comebacks, following a late hard earned draw at runaway leaders Ra’anana just over a month ago, after being 3-0 down.

This game may prove to be another low scoring affair in a match that pits 2 of the 3 lowest scoring teams against each other.

England FC welcome back Motti Colman from suspension and his experience may prove the difference as the past league champions look to try and finish their disappointing season on a high, in preparation of a title challenge next year. However Jamie Lazarus will be hoping that his men will be able to capitalize in their home advantage in order to stop the rot of 3 successive defeats.

Reverse Fixture this season:
England FC 1 v Modi’in 0

Leading Scorers:
Modi’in: Matan Kroizer 4
England FC: Gaby Balulu 8

Dangermen:
Adi Meiyuri (Modi’in); Omri Hamama (England FC)

Form:
Modi’in: WDLLL
England FC: DLWWL

Prediction:
Modi’in 1 v England FC 2

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RA’ANANA (1st) vs JERUSALEM (2nd)
Match of the day sees the eagerly awaited battle between the leagues top two sides this season.

Both sides have conceded fewer goals than any other side, as well as scoring considerably more goals than the rest. 5 of the league’s top 6 goal scorers will be on show in what ought to prove another classic battle between these two quality sides.

However, back in November, it was the defenses that came out on top, as both sides saw out a high octane 1-1 draw.

Ra’anana have been the runaway leaders all season, thanks in no small part to the work of Ra’anana’s management team of Moshe Freedman, Guv Lebens and Avi Wiesenberg. But a resurgent Jerusalem, buoyed by two “Fergie” time goals last week against England FC, have reduced the difference between the top two to just 4 points. With only 4 games for each side to play after this fixture, anything but a win for Jerusalem, and Ra’anana will be almost guaranteed their first ever league title, as they have a relatively easy run in.

Jerusalem’s management duo of David Preston and Danny Newman will be hoping to get their name back on the league trophy once more, and avoid a runners up spot for the 2nd year in a row. They go into this game knowing that even if they were to somehow stop the “invincible” league leaders and inflict their first defeat of the season, they will still need to win all their very tough remaining league fixtures, as well as hoping that Ra’anana will slip up elsewhere, with their respective remaining fixtures all against sides outside the top half of the table.

As they showed last week, with 2 injury time goals against England FC, Jerusalem will keep playing till the final whistle is blown in the hope that however unlikely it seems, that Ra’anana will somehow drop points elsewhere.

Home advantage will most probably play an important factor, as well as the added knowledge that a draw will be enough to almost guarantee the league title for Ra’anana, and that even if they lose; they are still in control of their own destiny. This lack of pressure may allow Ra’anana’s young guns to relax, and all but end any glimmer of hope their visitors may have on reducing Ra’anana’s lead even further.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Jerusalem 1 v Ra’anana 1

Leading Scorers:
Ra’anana: Aviad Ben Meir 19, Gavriel Kanichowsky 9
Jerusalem: Zack Lewis 15, Moishe Lewis 11, Dan Cohen 9

Dangermen:
Alberto “Tito” Telias (Ra’anana), Lollu Hibbert (Jerusalem)

Form:
Ra’anana: WDWWW
Jerusalem: WLWWW

Prediction:
Ra’anana 3 v Jerusalem 2

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REAL ATHLETICO JERUSALEM (7th) vs RAINBALL TEL AVIV (9th)
The good news for one of these sides at least, is that one of them will end a horrendous run of defeats.

Rainball have had a tough introduction to the Olim League, and are yet to break there duck, having lost every single game this season. The good news is that they have gradually improved as the season has gone on, and it is only a question of time before they record their first points.

Real Athletico, will be trying to stop a run of 5 defeats in 6 games, including their last 4 on the trot, in a seismic loss of form that has seen them go from potential title contenders to a probable bottom 3 finish.

Real have yet to find the back of the net in 2015, and their top 3 strikers, who at one stage looked to be challenging for the league’s golden boot, have not scored since 13th December! Real Athletico’s Carlos Mazzini and Mario Gayan will both be hoping that the Duek brothers will rekindle their scoring touch, and stop the rot before they face yet another almost certain defeat against runaway leaders Ra’anana next week.

Rainball’s Ron Cohen has made some excellent signings in the January transfer window, with both Yochai Cohen and Eliot Tubul making goal scoring debuts over the past couple of games. If they are to record their first win of the season, then this is perhaps the perfect time to face the sinking ship that is Real Athletico, with many of their players currently low on confidence.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Rainball Tel Aviv 0 v Real Athletico Jerusalem 5

Leading Scorers:
Real Athletico Jerusalem: Jackie Duek 9, Meni Duek 8
Rainball Tel Aviv: Noam Siluk 3

Dangermen:
Magdi Zayd (Real Athletico Jerusalem); Or Ganism (Rainball Tel Aviv)

Form:
Real Athletico Jerusalem: WLLLL
Rainball Tel Aviv: LLLLL

Prediction:
Jaffa 2 v Inter Tel Aviv 2