The regular season runs from August 19 to March 10, then splits into championship and relegation play-off sections. Early highlights include Maccabi Tel Aviv against Beitar Jerusalem on the opening weekend.
Major coaching changes
After five years as Maccabi Tel Aviv’s director of sport, Jordi Cruyff (right) has taken over from Lito Vidigal as the club’s coach.
Title-winners for the last two seasons, Hapoel Be’er Sheva are hot favourites to make it three in a row. The only team who could realistically thwart them are Maccabi Tel Aviv, who have been runners-up in the past two seasons.
A lack of firepower could be fatal for Hapoel Ashkelon, Hapoel Ra’anana and Ashdod. Newly promoted Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Acre inhabit the same twilight zone: too good for the second tier; unable to compete with the elite.
one to watch
Be’er Sheva fans would have been mightily relieved on hearing that Nigerian striker Anthony Nwakaeme turned down a move to China.
signing of the summer
Maccabi Haifa should pat themselves on the back for sealing a deal with Grasshoppers for 31-yearold Brazilian playmaker Caio. He was a major source of marksmanship, creativity and spectacle in his four years in Switzerland.