Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Gal Alberman knows as well as anyone how long it's been since his team last beat Maccabi Haifa at their Kiryat Eliezer Stadium: "We've already beaten them once this season, we can do it again"
Maccabi Tel Aviv held their weekly press conference today in the run up to their first game in the second round of league matches against Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer tomorrow night. They will try to regain first place with three points at a venue where they have not beaten their green nemisis in over eight and a half years. Maccabi Tel Aviv completed the first round with a draw against Beitar Jerusalem, while Maccabi Haifa will be coming off a run of three consecutive victories.
Coach Oscar Garcia is aware of Maccabi Haifa's abilities, despite their bad start this season: "They have a very good team and they are now in peak form, they haven't lost in six games. The last time we won in Kiryat Eliezer was eight years ago, so I know it won't be easy, but we will do our best. We have done similar things this season, turned round statistics that were not in our favour, but the most important thing is to move forward and improve with every game".
The coach also discussed the most recent games and the team's place in the table as the second round of league matches begins: "Those games are in the past and all we are doing now is thinking about the next game. Even the league table doesn't interest me much right now. I will only look at it in the final rounds. It's too early to calculate right now, we have to focus on constant improvement. We must win all the time, but each match teaches us something about ourselves,our rivals and the league and you must use that knowledge to continue to improve."
Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder, Gal Alberman, who has played and beaten Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium when he played for other clubs, shows respect for his rival: "Even when they weren't winning they played well, and I knew they were one of the strongest teams in the league and that their run of disappointing results would not last long. I've won there in the past, but it was always hard. But it's not the statistics that count, we are focusing on getting as many points as possible in order to continue our fight to stay on top".
"In recent years the statistics of encounters with Maccabi Haifa are not in our favour, but we have to make the difference on the pitch, not just talk about it. Before the season started they talked about how hard it is for us to beat Maccabi Haifa and yet we did it and we will try to do our best again. We are focusing on ourselves, regardless of what happens with Hapoel Tel Aviv. This is indeed an opportunity to open up a small lead at the top, but if we don’t do our job properly, it won't matter anyway".