With 41 victories apiece in their 128 meetings since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, the winners of Monday's game between Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC and Maccabi Tel-Aviv can take a historic lead.
Only two points separate Hapoel and Maccabi in second and third place in the Israeli table and any winner at Bloomfield would make strides in the Ligat Ha'al. Yet historical statistics may be more significant for fans of the two clubs. Maccabi were traditionally stronger – they led Hapoel 31-23 in derby wins back in 1997 – but the tables have been turning since then. Hapoel have recorded 18 wins to Maccabi's ten, levelling the overall win totals with last November's 1-0 victory.
That is a far from unfamiliar scoreline when it comes to Tel Aviv derbies: 1-0 is the most common result, with Hapoel registering 15 wins by that scoreline to Maccabi's 13. Goalless draws are also not a rarity – there have been 20 so far – yet Maccabi continue to lead the way when it comes to derby goals, with 143 to Hapoel's 129. That will count for nothing if they lose tonight.
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