OLIM FOOTBALLWith stormy weather on the horizon and snow forecast for the capital, police advice and late pitch inspections will determine which games will go ahead, as the league meets the business end of the season.

ASHDOD (7th) vs JAFFA (4th)
Last week, Ashdod lost a 7 goal thriller against Inter Tel Aviv, the team that usurped Jaffa’s place in the top three. David Ohayon was left incensed at what he deemed another poor refereeing performance, which he felt cost his side at least a point.

On the bright side for Ashdod, that narrow defeat came against one the form sides of the league at the moment, and should they play to a similar level, coupled with their symmetrical 7 game pattern of losing one, winning one, losing one…, then they have a good chance of sneaking a win.

Mathematically at least, Jaffa still have a very faint chance of winning the league, albeit being 7 points adrift with 4 games to go, they will at least want to finish the season as the top Tel Aviv – Jaffa side, in order to have bragging rights over their neighbours England FC and Inter Tel Aviv who sit either side of them in the table.

Daniel Berkeley used the week off last week to rally his Orange troupes and to prepare for one last push in order to try and recapture some of their mid-season form, that had seen them looking a strong possibility for a top 2 finish.

Earlier this season, both sides saw out a 7 goal classic, which Jaffa nicked by the odd goal, thanks in part to a brace from player manager Berkeley.

That game saw Ashdod unveil Aviv Bikhar, who made a goal scoring debut for les bleus. In the last 3 games, Bikhar has stepped up to the plate to fill in the boots of top scorer Shmouel Darmon, who seems to have gone off the boil in recent weeks, scoring 4 in the last 3 games.

This game ought to be another goal-fest, and it may take a moment of brilliance to win it.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Jaffa 4 v Ashdod 3

Leading Scorers:
Jaffa: Josh Bar 8
Ashdod: Shmouel Darmon 8

Dangermen:
Aviv Bikhar (Ashdod), Eyal Hoffman (Jaffa)

Form:
Ashdod: LWLWL
Jaffa: WWLWL

Prediction:
Ashdod 3 v Jaffa 3

ENGLAND FC (5th) vs INTER TEL AVIV (3rd)
A stonking local derby is in store between league giants England FC and potential giant in waiting Inter Tel Aviv.

This has been a poor season by England FC’s standards. One of the traditional big two of Olim football, they have struggled this season, and at one point looked as though they may well finish in the bottom 3.

Terry Newman and Motti Colman read the riot act to some of their underperforming stars and have turned things around. With 3 wins in their last 4 games, they will be looking to continue their form of the past month, knowing that a win against their local rivals, will make it a very interesting last few weeks of the season, with a strong possibility of finishing 3rd, and the top Tel Aviv side still within reach.

Inter Tel Aviv continue to impress in their debut season, and with 5 wins in their last 6 games, still have outside chances of gate-crashing the end of season awards, should both Ra’anana and Jerusalem slip up. But if they are to have any chance, they must secure the full 3 points here.

When these two met back in November, there was nothing to separate each side, and it would take a brave man to predict the winner here too.

Team news: Inter will most likely be missing Cedric Membrez, who ended up gong to hospital for a nasty gash to the head, in the win against Ashdod last week.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Inter Tel Aviv 1 v England FC 1

Leading Scorers:
England FC: Gaby Balulu 9
Inter Tel Aviv: Emanuel Scholtz 6

Dangermen:
Nick Plotnek (England FC), David Schumann (Inter Tel Aviv)

Form:
England FC: LWWLW
Inter Tel Aviv: WLWWW

Prediction:
England FC 2 v Inter Tel Aviv 2

JERUSALEM (2nd) vs MODI’IN (8th)
Jerusalem will need to stay focused if they are to keep the pressure on Ra’anana at the top, following their impressive win at the league leaders last week.

These two teams know each other very well, and Modi’in will raise their performance for a match they consider to be their local derby.

Jamie Lazarus will be looking to stop the rot after 4 straight defeats, but will have a tough time stopping the losing run as they face the league’s top scorers who have won their last 5 on the trot.

Jerusalem’s David Preston and Danny Newman will know that Modi’in always raise their game against the top sides, as Ra’anana found out, when Modi’in staged an incredible comeback, to draw 3-3 after being 3-0 down at half time.

Despite threats of snow putting this fixture in jeopardy, both sides are focused on this game, with the home side looking to stay large in Ra’anana’s rear view mirror, and hoping that neighbours Real Athletico Jerusalem do them a favour by taking a point of the league leaders.

Team news: Jerusalem will be hoping for some good news from the physio’s table, and that some of their big guns will return for the crucial run in, after first teamers Lollu Hibbert, Yehuda Korman, top scorer Zack Lewis, Itamar Kornfeld and Gav Krieger all missed the trip to Ra’anana last week.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Modi’in 2 v Jerusalem 4

Leading Scorers:
Jerusalem: Zack Lewis 15
Modi’in: Matan Kroizer 4

Dangermen:
Akiva Zneimer (Jerusalem), Yaacov Aronovitch (Modi’in)

Form:
Jerusalem: WWWWW
Modi’in: DLLLL

Prediction:
Jerusalem 3 v Modi’in 1

RA’ANANA (1st) vs REAL ATHLETICO JERUSALEM (6th)
Ra’anana’s unbeaten run came to an end in a titanic tussle against Jerusalem last week. Ra’anana’s management team of Avi Wiesenberg, Moshe Freedman and Guv Lebens will be taking their squad to see sports psychologists in order to get the defeat out of their system, and to return swiftly to winning ways.

They have the perfect opportunity to keep at least one hand on the title, as they take on a team that has been in free fall the second half of the season.

Real Athletico stopped a run of 4 straight defeats, with a comprehensive win against basement boys Rainball Tel Aviv. However that comprehensive win will only paper over the giant cracks that have started to appear in Carlos Mazzini’s side, after such a promising start to the season.

The good news for Real Athletico, is that Jacky Duek rediscovered his scoring touch by netting a hat trick after a 2 month barren period. The bad news is that his brother Meni is still searching for his scoring boots. Even worse news, is that they face a Ra’anana side on the rebound, looking to bounce back in style, and with Aviad Ben Meir looking to secure the golden boot for a second consecutive season, he will be relishing this game against a side that has shipped 20 goals in the last 5 games.

If Ra’anana play like they did in the 2nd half against Jerusalem last week, Real Athletico could be in for a long evening and an even longer drive back to the capital, should this game beat the weather.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Real Athletico Jerusalem 4 v Ra’anana 6

Leading Scorers:
Ra’anana: Aviad Ben Meir 20
Real Athletico Jerusalem: Jacky Duek 12

Dangermen:
Gavriel Kanichowsky (Ra’anana), Eden Sharma (Real Athletico Jerusalem)

Form:
Ra’anana: DWWWL
Real Athletico Jerusalem: LLLLW

Prediction:
Ra’anana 5 v Real Athletico Jerusalem 1