Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Title candidates Floriana, Gżira United in direct clash
Feb 6, 2020
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BOV Premier League
PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA
PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA

Valletta vs Balzan (Saturday – National Stadium, 2pm)

 

Valletta’s morale is sky-high following their 1-0 win over leaders and rivals Floriana last Sunday.
 


The Citizens, now only two points off the top, face another difficult obstacle on Saturday as they meet Balzan. A win for Valletta would increase the pressure on Floriana ahead of their match against fellow title contenders Gżira United in Saturday’s second fixture at the National Stadium.

 

Balzan, who are coming from a goalless draw against Birkirkara, welcome back midfielders Paul Fenech and Steve Pisani from suspension, and Dutch Augustine Loof who missed the draw against the Stripes. Coach Jacques Scerri must serve a one-match touchline ban.

 

Valletta, who have gone 10 league matches without a defeat, are expected to field their best team. The Whites won the first-round match 2-0.

 

Gudja United vs Sliema Wanderers (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 2pm)

 

Two teams situated in the bottom half of the Premier League table face each other in search of maximum points as they strive to steer away from the relegation zone. Sliema are 10th on 17 points, two ahead of Gudja United.

 

Gudja are coming from a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sta Lucia while Sliema are buoyed by their 2-0 win over neighbours Gżira United. The Blues have strengthened their squad during the January transfer window, signing Brazilians Gilmar Ribeiro and Gabriel Duarte, and Spanish forward Carlos Calvo.

 

Colombian Juan Andres Bolanos returns from suspension for Gudja.

 

The first-round game ended in a 1-1 draw.

 

Gżira United vs Floriana (Saturday – National Stadium, 4pm)

 

This is the most attractive fixture of the week as it is a direct clash between two title hopefuls who will be going all out to bounce back from defeats.

 

Floriana went down to rivals Valletta last Sunday while Gżira’s loss to Sliema was their second in a row in the championship.

 

Experienced defender Rodolfo Soares returns for Gżira United, now under the charge of Paul Zammit, while Tiago Adan Fonseca is back in the frame for Floriana after both served a one-match ban.

 

Floriana coach Enzo Potenza may give a debut to Brazilian Marcelo Dias who joined the Greens from Senglea Athletic last week. Nicolas Matias Garcia is suspended.

 

The first-round match ended goalless.

 

Birkirkara vs Mosta (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 4.15pm)

 

A mid-table game between two teams whose main objective is to gain the points to climb further up the table. Mosta are in seventh place, one point above Birkirkara.

 

The Stripes featured in a goalless draw against Balzan last Monday while Mosta moved further clear of the danger zone after a 1-0 victory over Senglea Athletic.

 

Gabriel Aquilina returns for Mosta while Birkirkara welcome back right-back Cain Attard.

 

The first-round match ended in a 1-1 draw.

 

Tarxien Rainbows vs Sta Lucia (Sunday – Hibernians Stadium, 2pm)

 

Tarxien Rainbows face neighbours Sta Lucia in a derby clash. 

 

Both teams are coming from wins. Sta Lucia beat Gudja 2-1 to further boost their prospects of retaining their Premier League status while Tarxien overcame Ħamrun Spartans 3-2 to finally end their winless streak. The three points will have lifted Tarxien’s optimism but they still have it all to do to revive their survival hopes as they are 11 points behind second-from-bottom Senglea Athletic.

 

The Rainbows are expected to field the same formation as in the win over the Spartans. Colombian duo Farid Zuniga and Luis Riascos return from suspension for the Saints who won the first-round game 2-1.

 

Senglea Athletic vs Hibernians (Sunday – Hibernians Stadium, 4pm)

 

Hibernians will be aiming to get back to winning ways after their 2-0 defeat to Sirens last Sunday. The Paolites have little margin for error if they are to stay in the title race.

 

At the other end of the table, Senglea Athletic need the points to improve their chances of avoiding the drop. They are coming from a narrow defeat to Mosta.

 

Jan Tanti and Sigitas Olberkis are suspended for the Yellow-Reds.

 

The Paolites, who won the first round match 2-1, will be without Joseph Mbong who is suspended.

 

Sirens vs Ħamrun Spartans (Monday – National Stadium, 3pm)

 

This season’s revelation tean, Sirens, meet Ħamrun Spartans who will be led by newly-appointed coach Andrea Ciaramella. The latter has replaced Manuele Blasi.

 

The Spartans are eyeing a revival after going eight matches without a win.

 

Not the same can be said of Sirens who occupy third place, only three points behind leaders Floriana. They are strengthened by the return of Lucas Memezes from suspension, while Clayton Failla and Darren Borg return for the Spartans.

 

Sirens won the first-round match 4-0. 

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