BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, May 6, 2011
In the third round of the Israeli Championship playoffs, Leo Kurpnik and Maccabi Netanya hope to push their unbeaten run to 16 while Bryan Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona look to keep their Europa League hopes alive.
Hapoel Tel Aviv – Maccabi Netanya
Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya will look to keep their Europa League chances alive when they travel to take on second place Hapoel Tel Aviv in the third round of the Israeli Premier League Championship playoffs.
Krupnik is likely to start for Maccabi Netanya.
Maccabi Netanya has not lost since January and will enter into Saturday's game on a 15 game unbeaten streak. Their strong run of play has seen them move into the top four of the league and also into the semifinals of the Israeli State Cup.
With the top three teams in the playoffs qualifying for European play along with the winner of the State Cup, a fourth place finish may be good enough if the State Cup is won by a team that has already qualified via the league.
For Hapoel Tel Aviv, the game is also of great importance. They are currently in second place and trial first place Maccabi Haifa by just two points for first place and the only Champions League spot in Israel.
Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Avihai Yadin is questionable with a knee injury.
Maccabi Netanya will be without Mariano Caporale, Firas Mugrabi, and captain Orel Dgani.
Kiryat Shmona – Bnei Yehuda
Bryan Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona will look for an important win that could vault the small club into fourth place in the Israeli Premier Leauge in the third round of the Championship playoffs.
The Los Angeles-born Gerzicich is likely to start for Kiryat Shmona.
Kiryat Shmona are looking to continue their storybook season that has seen the club from the smallest city to have a Premier League team make a push for European play just one year after getting promoted. They are still alive in both the Championship playoffs and the State Cup where they are in the semifinals.
Bnei Yehuda are in sixth place in the Israeli Championship playoffs but one win could see them rise to fourth place.
Neither team are reporting any injuries at this time.